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Information Literacy

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Information Literacy in a Nutshell

As you know, Information Literacy has been designated one of the Institutional Learning Outcomes. A rubric and scoring sheet are provided.

Don’t panic! More than likely, you won’t need to change much of what you do. You might just need to change how you look at assignments, both when you’re creating them and later during evaluation.

First, let’s talk about what you’re getting yourself into. The Association for College and Research Libraries defines Information Literacy as “a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate and use effectively the needed information.”
OJC’s information literacy ILO’s are:

  1. Evaluating information and its sources;
  2. Synthesizing main ideas to construct new concepts;
  3. Documenting references properly;
  4. Avoiding plagiarism.

The rubric will help you determine where your students are for each outcome. Library staff can help you if you get stuck.

Create Info Lit Assignments

Here are some general guidelines to use when creating assignments that incorporate information literacy:

  • Focus on each of the competencies
  • Give clear directions, and make the rubric available so students know what is being assessed
  • Don’t assume the students already know how to do research or use the library
  • Schedule a library instruction session
  • Don’t just tell the students not to plagiarize; explain what plagiarism is
  • Encourage students to ask library staff for help (but make sure the library staff has a copy of the assignment)
  • Talk to library staff about creating a LibGuide for your course and specific assignments.
  • Make sure the assignment makes sense and is do-able. Test it out
  • Require more than print resources; Wheeler Library has a wide variety of databases. Explain the difference between using library databases and the free internet, e.g., Google
  • Make sure if you require specific books/databases/etc., that they are available in the library
  • Assign a variety of topics. Having everyone do the same topic is boring for you and the students, and makes plagiarism easier to accomplish
  • Consider assigning a group project; use variety—allow students to do a podcast or video instead of the traditional written assignment

Research Paper Alternatives

Remember, you don’t have to assign a complete research paper to assess information literacy! Some suggestions:

  • Write an annotated bibliography on a topic
  • Evaluate sources based on specific criteria
  • Compare and contrast information on the same subject from a popular magazine and professional journal
  • Summarize a journal article; provide citation
  • Evaluate an article in Wikipedia against an article on the same topic in Credo
  • Find sources that back up an opinion or experiment
  • Examine bias in media
  • Pick a journal article and check its references. Are they available through library sources? Do they seem credible?
  • Find a source that gives a different opinion or outcome than one you’ve been studying .