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Information Literacy: Instruction for Your Classes

Guide Information   
Last Updated:    Feb 24, 2015   
Guide URL:   
Description:   Information Literacy: what it is, why it is important to you, and how to incorporate information literacy skills into your assignments.   
Tags:   21st century skills, critical thinking, inquiry, instruction, lifelong learning, research skills   
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Guide Index
What Is Information Literacy?
Instruction Request Form
More Faculty Resources
Sample Assignments
Invisible Web

What Is Information Literacy?

What Is Information Literacy?

Information literacy is the set of critical thinking skills necessary to locate and use information effectively. 

Information literacy means knowing when you need information, knowing where to look for it, how to find it, and how to evaluate it.

Information literacy skills are required not only for class assignments but also for lifelong learning, which goes far beyond the classroom. Information literacy skills are not learned in one class session but are cumulative and are refined through practice. See Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education for more.

Information Literacy Student Learning Outcomes

1. Students will be able to define an information need in order to construct an effective research strategy. 

2. Students will be able to construct an effective research strategy in order to identify a variety of relevant information sources. 

3. Students will be able to identify and select relevant information sources in order to evaluate, synthesize and draw conclusions. 

4. Students will be able to evaluate, synthesize and draw conclusions in order to analyze and interpret information.

Project Information Literacy: The Freshmen Study
Project Information Literacy

Courtesy of Project Information Literacy under a Creative Commons license  (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)


Planning an Instruction Session

Information literacy instruction sessions focus on research skills and are most effective when they are tied to a specific class assignment or project. If you do not have a library assignment in mind, the Information Literacy librarians will be happy to assist you in designing one.

Instructors often mistakenly believe that scheduling an instruction session as early in the semester as possible is the best course of action to take with their students.  Actually, this is not the case.

Instruction sessions should be scheduled at point of need, as close as possible to the time when the students will begin their research. Students will be more motivated to learn and will be able to practice their newly acquired skills on an actual assignment.

Schedule your instruction session to allow enough time for students to gain familiarity with the research sources they will need to use in order to complete their assignment or project.

The library needs at least two weeks advance notice in order to plan with you and schedule a successful classroom session.

To schedule an instruction session, please complete the Information Literacy Instruction Request Form.

Your request will be referred to the appropriate librarian, who will then contact you to discuss your research assignment and to confirm the date, time, and location of your session.

We follow up every session with a brief research exercise that helps us evaluate how well students assimilated the concepts and skills taught in the instruction session. The information provided is important in helping us to continually improve our teaching.

Other Classroom Reservations

If you need to reserve a computer classroom in Young Library but do NOT need a librarian, you may reserve a classroom directly through either Audio Visual Services or Student Computing Services.

What do students say about library instruction?

"The library website provides links to many useful databases under which you can plug in multiple key words at once, which is much more thorough than other websites i've used before for research."

"I learned what a scholarly article looks like and how to pick one out when doing my research."

Request an Instruction Session

Schedule your instruction session as close as possible to the time when the students will begin their research.

Instruction Request Form


Rubric for Learning Outcomes
Rubric for Student Learning Outcomes

More Faculty Resources

Sample Assignments

Incorporating Information Literacy Into Your Assignments

Critical thinking and research skills are relatively easy to incorporate into existing assignments. You may already be teaching information literacy in your classes without realizing it. This list contains some suggestions to get you started.

  1. Annotated bibliography - Include evaluation with summary.
  2. Editorial fact-finder - Read an editorial and find facts to support it.
  3. Letter to the Editor -  Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about a local topic (e.g. expanded gambling). You want to support your argument with facts and data. Find three peer reviewed articles that support your argument.
  4. Interview preparation - Research a company, institution, or organization as if preparing for a job interview.
  5. Newspaper story - Write a newspaper story, based on research, describing an event. Heighten interest by having several people research the same event, then compare stories.
  6. Research Studies - Locate a research study reported in the news. Using library resources, find the original research article. Read both articles and write a summary of each, comparing the articles for audience, purpose, and style.
  7. Primary vs. secondary sources - Research the same topic - one with primary sources, one with secondary sources. Compare the two sets of results.  
  8. Prominent scholar - Identify a noted scholar or researcher in your discipline. Research his/her career and publications.  Include biographical information, a bibliography of publications and an analysis of the individual in his/her field.
  9. Research log - Create a record of library research: methodology, sources consulted, keywords or subjects searched. Note both successes and failures.
  10. Same topic across disciplines - Select a topic and research it in different disciplines (e.g., food from an agricultural, historical, and cultural perspective).
  11. Scholarly and popular sources -Compare two articles on same topic, one scholarly, one popular.
  12. Statistical fact check - Find a magazine or newspaper article containing statistics. Find the original source of the statistics. Compare how the statistics were used in both the original source and in the article, noting differences in viewpoint and interpretation.
Suggested Reading

Birmingham, Elizabeth, et. al. " First-Year Writing Teachers, Perceptions of Students' Information Literacy Competencies, and a Call for a Collaborative Approach." Communications in Information Literacy 2.1 (2008): 6-24. 

Brasley, Stephanie Sterling. "Effective Librarian and Discipline Faculty Collaboration Models for Integrating Information Literacy into the Fabric of an Academic Institution."New Directions for Teaching and Learning 14 (2008): 71-88.

Oaklef, Megan. "Dangers and Opportunities: A Conceptual Map of Information Literacy Assessment Approaches." Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 8.3 (2008): 233–253.

Orme, William A. "Information Literacy and First-Year Students." New Directions for Teaching and Learning 14 (2008) 63-70.

Samson, Sue & Michelle S. Millet. " The Learning Environment: First-Year Students, Teaching Assistants, and Information Literacy ." Research Strategies 19 (2003): 84-98.

Invisible Web

Invisible Web

Google and other public search engines offer quick and freely available information. But how much of the web do they actually search? Estimates are around 30%. The rest of the Internet has been referred to as the dark, deep, or invisible web. "More than half of the deep Web content resides in topic-specific databases" (Bergman) such as the databases provided to you by the UK Libraries.
Invisible Web
Graphic design by Chris Worland. Graphic based on:
Bergman, Michael K. “The Deep Web: Surfacing Hidden Value.”  Journal of Electronic Publishing Online-Only Journal 7.2 (2001): n.pag. Web. 8 August 2011.  <>

Devine, Jane, and Francine Egger-Sider.  Going Beyond Google: The Invisible Web in Learning and Teaching. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2009.  Print.

Gil, Paul. “What is the ‘Invisible Web’?”  The New York Times Company, December 2010.  Web.  8 August 2011.  <>

He, Bin, Mitesh Patel, Zhen Zhang, and Kevin Chen Chuan Chang. “Accessing the Deep Web.” Communications of the ACM 50.5 (2007): 94-101.  ACM Digital Library.  Web.  8 August 2011.

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