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FROM CRITICAL THINKING TO HANDLING TIKTOK BRAIN WITH JILL WESTEN

ABBY DENAULT, TRUMPET GUEST WRITER

Jill Westen currently holds the roles of Information Literacy Librarian as well as College Librarian and has been at Wartburg for 12 years.

Westen came to Wartburg for the connections she could have with students.

“I think that small private colleges, in general, are really good at making those connections to individual students. Just because of the nature of it, smaller class sizes and higher ratio of professors. I am able to connect and feel like I’m making more of a difference,” Westen said.

Since then, students may have seen her in their classes as she is a liaison for the humanities including art, English, history, modern languages, music, religion and philosophy.

“Students in my liaison areas will see me in the courses where they have research projects. And if they don’t, we also provide online research tips on the lib guides. And I am always available for consultation appointments,” Westen said.

In her experience, Westen has seen many changes and trends in the practice. One of these being a sometimes-limited staff.

“We have had to evolve in the biggest way because of the number of librarians we have. That has gone down. We are still adjusting to be able to reach the students across all four years with a reduced amount of librarians. So, that’s a challenge. It’s a trend, but it’s a trend based on economic realities,” Westen said.

Outside of staffing, she has also noted changes in students. A recent change she likes to call “TikTok Brain,” a behavior she has noticed in some of her students.

“They get to a screen and start clicking around on top. I have to say, ‘slow down, let’s read this before we decide if it is going to help us.’ I am not sure if they feel like something should reach out and grab their eyes. Which TikTok does, you’re scrolling up and then there is a new thing. And that’s not everybody, that is just a few students. I would say I just need to be extra mindful when I’m showing something that I model,” Westen said.

Westen gave a reminder to students about the effects of information and the importance of critical thought.

“We’re all consuming information all the time, whether or not that is happening for a class or a paper. It’s up to us to consume that critically. Otherwise, we are letting that settle in our brains the way it came into it, taking ownership of that information in becoming our worldview,” Westen said.

In order to develop these critical thinking skills, Westen suggested a model of three questions.

“You ask yourself, what is it? Is that a news article or is that just on somebody’s blog? Why do I care? If I’m going to take a tweet as fact, I need to be reading more on that. And what does it really say? Really getting familiar with word choices and the connotations of why the author picked those words and that information and left it like that. You can answer those three questions whatever you are looking at. If you’re looking for a recipe or exercise pants,” Westen said.

For more helpful tips on information literacy and research or to set up a consultation with Jill Westen, visit https://knightguides.wartburg.edu/faculty/librarians.

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