Information literacy is the ability to use critical thinking to create meaningful knowledge from information. The information literate student: engages in a process of inquiry in order to frame intellectual challenges and identify research needs; accesses, evaluates, and communicates information effectively; provides attribution for source materials used; develops insight into the social, legal, economic and ethical aspects of information creation, use, access and durability.

 

Related tips:
Information Literacy: In-Class Activities

Ask student to create an annotated bibliography to help students identify and synthesize the relevant literature.

Action:

  • Ask students to create an annotated bibliography of 5-8 articles on a particular topic in which
    • Each annotation is no more than 100-250 words
    • Explains the authors’ views
    • Explains how the authors’ views relate to one another
    • Explains how the authors’ views relate to the student’s own views

Reason:

  • This work can help students synthesize the key literature as they develop their thesis.

Ask students to document their search process and sources to help students become familiar with databases, the importance of search terms, and how to properly format references.

Action:

  • Pick a sufficiently narrow topic or term and ask students to:
    • identify 3 articles that are likely to be relevant to that topic
    • list which database(s) they used and why they found those databases appropriate
    • list their search terms
    • provide the bibliographic information, properly formatted, for all 3 articles
  • Build on the former activity by asking students to read and summarize the abstracts of the papers they found during their research process.
  • An alternative assignment: after students have written a brief response paper to an issue, text, artwork, etc. ask them to write a second paper, based on their research of the issue/text/artwork, in which they
    • choose 2 or 3 sources
    • summarize the views in those sources
    • properly cite those sources
    • and state how their own views are in line with or contrary to the scholarly views.

Reason:

  • An assignment that makes the steps of a research process explicit helps students better master these skills.

Assign students the “Start Your Research Tutorial” to serve as a discipline agnostic introduction to conducting research.

Action:

Reason:

  • This resource can serve as general background allowing the instructor to focus on disciplinary specific aspects of research.

Set learning goals and clear expectations regarding information literacy to direct their attention to the new skills they should be developing.

Action:

Reason:

  • Rubrics are helpful for both evaluating the display of information literacy in a paper and communicating expectations to students.

Ask students to identify how an author used cited evidence to construct an argument to prepare students to do the same in their arguments.

Action:

  • Provide students a paper that does a good job of making claims that are supported by cited evidence. Either in class or in a written assignment, ask students to summarize the arguments made within the paper and what cited evidence the authors used to make each argument.
  • Ask students to identify the following:
    • Text that situates this question within the literature
    • Cited evidence
    • Explanations of how the cited evidence supports a specific claim.
  • When possible, use a previous student’s anonymized assignment as a model for current students.

Reason:

  • Deconstructing examples of how authors construct an argument through citing previous work provides students a model of how to connect existing literature to their topic.

Specify your expectations for clear and consistent references and formatting to support complete and consistent formatting of references.

Action:

  • Explain to students that the formatting of references varies for different disciplines
  • Provide students guidelines for how you want references formatted
  • Direct students how to consistently and completely label figures and graphs.
  • Have students’ bibliography due before the final version of the paper so that students spend enough time completely and consistently formatting their references.
  • Many resources exist online to help students completely and consistently format that references. Purdue Resource
  • When possible explain the rationale behind formatting rules. For example, explain table titles appear above the table because tables sometimes span multiple pages.
  • Document and share disciplinary expectations regarding what does and what does not require a reference.
  • The Claremont Colleges Library provides an “Exploring Academic Integrity” tutorial that provides information about appropriate Attribution and Citation

Reason:

  • Disciplinary standards vary and it may be difficult for students to identify guides to develop complete and consistent references.

Plan the timing and content of library class sessions with librarians to integrate librarian-led workshops at appropriate times.

Action:

  • Contact the library as you develop your syllabus to identify appropriate points for library class sessions and discuss possible assignment design.

Reason:

  • Greater levels of engagement by librarians make for greater student learning gains in information literacy. However, librarians need not be embedded in a class for students to make significant gains; faculty-librarian assignment and syllabi collaboration and then one or two strategically placed library class sessions can produce great gains in students’ information literacy.