Am I on the wrong path with my research?

Some days, like today, are really hard. I’m starting to wonder if I’m going down the wrong path with my research. The survey is just about ready to pilot, yet I’m not sure that the survey questions are appropriate, or that information literacy (IL) can or should be assessed using multiple choice questions.

Survey questions are loosely based on the ANZIL framework, which is in turn based on the ACRL general standards from 2000. These are now “sunsetted” –  removed from the ACRL’s webpages, and replaced with their IL Framework.

So is it wise to use “outdated” standards and learning outcomes to measure IL today? If not, how else can students’ IL be assessed? The Framework, unlike the Standards, doesn’t include learning outcomes, which were relatively easy to measure. It’s much harder to measure using the “threshold concepts” that the Framework prescribes.

This mini-crisis exploded last night, when I read an e-mail from the director of the ACRL, answering my questions about the replacement of the Standards with the Framework, and confirming my fear that even their discipline-specific standards also soon will be sunsetted.

I feel like the foundation of my project has been knocked out from under me. Have the past four months of work been wasted? Do I have to start over with a new research question? Is it normal to have days like this??Bilderesultat for wonder icon

Just now, my co-supervisor, Torstein, came by to discuss this dilemma, which has been bothering us both. He suggested that we reframe the way we’re thinking about the problem. My study, after all, is not solely based on the standards themselves, but rather on the assumption that IL can (at least to some extent) be measured with a survey. And that I think I can defend. Besides – I’ll also use other methods of assessing the students’ IL, not just the survey. And the measuring of IL is only part of my study.

So I feel a little better now, but still as though I’ve been through a whirlpool. Do other researchers also have doubts like this  occasionally?

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