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Information Literacy Program - Assignments



The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) provides a framework of five standards for assessing information literacy. These standards are:

  1. Ability to determine the nature and extent of the information needed
  2. Ability to access needed information effectively and efficiently
  3. Ability to appraise information and its sources and to incorporate selected information with existing knowledge
  4. Ability to use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  5. Ability to understand many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and ability to access and use information ethically and legally

Click on a standard above to see suggestions for assignments that will allow students to practice and demonstrate these competencies. For more information, see our guide to integrating information literacy into course assignments.

Assignments for Each Standard

1.  The information literate student determines the nature and extent of the information needed.

  • Have students use general reference sources to explore topic
  • Have students search a multi-subject database in order to explore the range of articles published on a given topic
  • Have students find and compare primary and secondary sources on a topic
  • Have students explore New York Times Online in order to identify examples of primary sources
  • Have students think of a topic from a variety of viewpoints: conservative, environmental, etc.
  • Have students use a secondary source to trace a scientific study to the primary source
  • Have students write a description of how they proceeded from a general topic of interest to a thesis they want to investigate

2.  The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently.

  • Have students develop a list of keywords, phrases, and subject headings for selected topics
  • Have students maintain a research log in order to identify their research strategies, issues, problems, and success, including a discussion of how they refined their searches
  • Have students use a database record of a periodical article to identify useful keywords, phrases, and subject headings in order to refine their search strategies
  • Have students use an article bibliography to locate related research and examine relationship of the referenced sources to the article's thesis statement
  • Have students use a database to identify scholarly research studies on a clearly defined topic
  • Have students track an author's/scholar's publications over a period of time

3.  The information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system.

  • Have students compare a scholarly and popular / nonacademic periodical article on a given topic
  • Have students search a scholarly/subject database and a multi-subject database in order to compare the content of the two databases
  • Have students compare a website and a journal article in order to develop and discuss evaluation methods and criteria
  • Have students compare several academic reviews of a book and write one themselves
  • Have students search the Internet to locate scholarly sources and apply criteria for evaluating websites
  • Have students identify biases or questionable underlying assumptions in non-academic periodical articles
  • Have students briefly explain why they chose each source and what it contributed to their research
  • Have students discuss the methodology of a scholarly journal article and identify possible flaws

4.  The information literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.

  • Have students develop an annotated bibliography on a well-defined topic
  • Have students work in small groups to develop a PowerPoint or poster session
  • Have students lead a class discussion based on a journal article or book chapter
  • Share examples of good and not so good papers from previous classes
  • Have students write a summary/abstract for a book or article
  • Have students write a book review after looking at scholarly examples
  • Have students write a literature review on a topic
  • Have students work in a group to prepare arguments for a topic debate
  • Have students create a bibliography of a specific scholar's publishing history
  • Have students create numerical tables or graphs designed to support a specific thesis, or effectively interpret tables and graphs found in sources

5.  The information literate student understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses information ethically and legally.

  • Have students demonstrate proper citation and documentation of electronic and print formats
  • Have students define terms such as copyright, censorship, plagiarism
  • Have students locate an article on an issue such as censorship and present to class
  • Have students prepare a debate on censorship or academic freedom issues
  • Have students research the implications of downloading music illegally off the Internet
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