Communities of Information: Information Literacy and Discourse Community Instruction in First Year Writing Courses
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The artifacts of discourse (print texts, recordings, Web documents, etc.) are information, and as such fall under the umbrellas of both discourse communities and information literacy. Since the product of a discourse community is information, and in a first-year writing course students are both learning how to navigate and to join discourse communities, students should be taught about discourse communities and information as linked ideas. We reframe the idea of discourse communities as information communities that share aspects of both John Swales’s definition of discourse communities and the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. By presenting these ideas as intertwined, not only do students learn about the features of different types of communication in a given field, they begin to think of the artifacts of that communication and how it is organized, shared, and created. In this chapter we give examples of how to explicitly draw together some of Swales’s characteristics of a discourse community and the Framework. In addition to tying together concepts from information literacy and discourse communities, we provide examples of assignments that can be used in the composition classroom.