Teaching Information Literacy
Q&A With Teachers Track Speaker Janet Tapper
"It’s a new world for massage therapists,” says Janet Tapper, instructor of “Information Literacy” at the Teachers Track at the AMTA 2011 National Convention. “Massage therapists should be aware of research that either proves the efficacy of their work or in some cases guides their practice.”
Why is it critical that information literacy skills related to evidence-informed massage practice be integrated into massage curriculum?
Massage is becoming more and more integrated into medical and Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) clinics. Massage therapists should be aware of research that either proves the efficacy of their work or, in some cases, guides their practice. Early exposure to search terminology and techniques demystifies the search and discovery process. It also emphasizes the utility of reviewing the literature in support of their massage practice.
When students use the professional literature in school, they develop habits and skills that promote life-long learning and a sophisticated appreciation of massage’s role in the health care environment.
What are some of the steps that educators can take right now to integrate information literacy skills into their classrooms?
Adding search and discovery activities in support of training and classroom assignments is key. Students become more aware of local information resources and develop an understanding of what is authoritative information versus random web searching. Because students are often working and have families in addition to their massage studies, it’s very important to make sure that research is relevant to their classwork. Otherwise, research is just another hoop to jump through and an added burden that does not enhance their skills.
How does the massage therapy profession as a whole benefit from evidence-informed massage practice?
There are three main reasons that evidence-informed practice benefits the massage profession. Most importantly, evidence-informed practice creates better client care. Informed massage therapists are knowledgeable about new techniques, new applications and, sometimes, new contraindications. Secondly, an up-to-date massage therapist that can produce evidence will curry greater respect from other health care providers for themselves and the profession at large. Thirdly, as the medical paradigm shifts more and more to evidence-based practice, a body of evidence is helpful in substantiating massage services to third-party payers.
Why should massage therapy educators attend your session at the AMTA National Convention?
Instructors are encouraged to bring their laptops to the session. The class will be both interactive and customizable to their unique information environments, with an emphasis on finding authoritative information using the Internet and local resources. Participants will leave armed with skills to enhance and encourage an atmosphere that supports massage research and its impact on the profession.
Janet Tapper MLS, University Librarian, administrates the W.A. Budden Library at the University of Western States (formerly known as Western States Chiropractic College) in Portland, Oregon. Tapper regularly presents information literacy topics at library and healthcare conferences and has received commendation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities accreditation committee for co-authorship of Information Literacy Competencies for the Evidence-Based Healthcare Practitioner.