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Library Services for Faculty: Instruction

Information Literacy

"Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning."

from the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education

Instruction Options

Library instruction is always tailored to the specific needs of your course.

We work with you to design a session that meets the information literacy needs of your students.

 

Some of Our Options

  • In-person instruction
  • Online instruction (synchronous or asynchronous)
  • Embed a librarian in your Canvas course
  • Add librarian contact info to your syllabus
  • Collaborate on assignment design

 

Content

Will be specific to the course or program but may include any of the following:

  • Developing a research topic or project focus
  • Finding and evaluating different types of information for a specific need (articles, websites, books/ebooks, data sets, etc.)
  • Understanding copyright, avoiding plagiarism, and citing sources
  • Understanding how information is produced and shared, including social issues related to information.

 

Timing

We will work with you regarding session length and timing so our instruction occurs at a logical point in students' research process and is contextualized to their assignments. We can also come back for different instruction sessions throughout the term to meet students' needs. Please allow two weeks lead time for initial instruction planning.

 

Request Instruction

Contact your librarian directly or use our Library Instruction Request form.

Core Theoretical Concepts of Information Literacy

The following is based on ACRL's Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.

Authority Is Constructed and Contextual

Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used. Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that the information need may help to determine the level of authority required. 

What this means in the classroom: We discuss this concept when teaching students about evaluating sources of information they find in their research. We teach them how to decide what is credible information that is appropriate to use in the context of a college classroom, and in so doing discuss authority and what may be acceptable in other contexts. We may provide a handout or some other tool for critical evaluation. Depending on the class, this discussion can also touch upon the social issues surrounding information and authority.

Searching as Strategic Exploration

Searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a range of information sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding develops. 

What this means in the classroom: We teach this concept through the instructions we give and examples we use for searching library databases for books and articles. We show students how to access the information they need effectively and efficiently, but we also show them that it is OK to make mistakes. We demonstrate how they can build on their keyword list as they go, and how to incorporate new pieces of information into their search on the fly. We show that there are often many sources that will help in their exploration if they are flexible and creative. In other words, we demonstrate live how messy, nonlinear, and iterative good searching is meant to be.

Research as Inquiry

Research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field.  

What this means in the classroom: Similar to the above, we teach this mainly through instructing and demonstrating how to use library databases. As we do this, we demonstrate how a topic or research question can change, evolve, be broadened or narrowed. In so doing we, again, illustrate that there is rarely one right answer. Research is a process, not a destination, and students should learn along the way. In understanding this process, students are better able to define and articulate their own information needs.

Scholarship as Conversation

Communities of scholars, researchers, or professionals engage in sustained discourse with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of varied perspectives and interpretations. 

What this means in the classroom: We discuss this concept most often when we are contextualizing information and helping students see how one piece of information doesn't usually stand alone -- it's part of a larger conversation. For instance, why did our understanding of COVID-19 seem to change so much early in the pandemic? Because the body of knowledge surrounding it was being developed and contributed to by different researchers from different angles. Students are also exposed to this idea through the creation of and examination of citations. Students see that the authors of the articles they read are in conversation with all the authors listed in their references, and that future authors will be in conversation with them. In this way, students can begin to see scholarship as a community, as opposed to a monolithic authority (see Authority is Constructed above).

Information Has Value

Information possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. Legal and socioeconomic interests influence information production and dissemination. 

What this means in the classroom: We do not often get to touch upon this concept, but have had very fruitful discussions with students in certain classes about the economic, legal, ethical, and social issues of information. We are comfortable leading these discussions and soliciting student participation, but are also happy to collaborate with the instructor of record for the class to engage their students in a discussion of these issues.

Information Creation as a Process

Information in any format is produced to convey a message and is shared via a selected delivery method. The iterative processes of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information vary, and the resulting product reflects these differences. 

What this means in the classroom: We discuss this concept most often when teaching students about different types of information sources and when each is appropriate. For example, we will engage students in a conversation about the processes for creating various types of information products or sources (newspapers, magazines, scholarly articles, blogs, websites) and what this means in terms of the message being conveyed, the authority behind that message, and in what type of scenario each source would be appropriate. We also sometimes teach classes in which we facilitate the creation of information by the students. For example, in a class where students are assigned to create a video presentation we teach them to use various tools and technologies, and help them choose which one might be best suited to their topic or project.