Instructing students and faculty in the effective use of information resources is central to the mission of Geisel Library. To this end, the library has established a tiered instructional program designed to cultivate information literacy in students. Starting with mandatory sessions in the fall and spring semesters of freshman English, librarians teach instruction sessions for students at multiple stages of their undergraduate careers. These sessions build upon one another, ensuring that students gain an increasing level of sophistication with performing college-level research.

The session objectives at each level of the program are tied explicitly to the standards/framework of information literacy advocated by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). Sessions for intermediate and advanced-level classes are tailored to specific projects, teaching students the important resources and research techniques needed in their chosen disciplines. The tiered program culminates in advanced research sessions for capstone courses in many of the college's academic departments. The program's success is gauged by measuring outcomes of student learning.

    Levels of Information Literacy Instruction

    Information literacy skill development is scaffolded across four levels. See below for more details.

    • New Student Orientation
    • Freshman English EN105
    • Intermediate level: Discipline-Specific Instruction
    • Advanced level: Capstone Projects

    Primary Modes of Instruction

    • Course-integrated classroom instruction
    • Embedded instruction in Sakai
    • Create and maintain Subject and Course Guides
    • Create and maintain Research Guides and Video Tutorials
    • Create and maintain Faculty Resources Guides

    Evaluation and Assessment

    There are a variety of approaches to assessing student acquisition of information literacy skills. Below are examples of such evaluation metrics, some of which have been applied by Geisel Library.

    Other Modes of Instruction

    Instruction takes place in many ways using a variety of teaching methods, including:

    • Reference Desk instruction
    • Individual reference appointments
    • Ask-a-Librarian
    • Faculty collaboration and consultation
    • Specialized workshops

    Description of Information Literacy Instruction Levels

    • Orientation


      We participates in Orientation activities for Freshmen and Transfers during the summer months and in January. Orientation consists of a 15 minute presentation to introduce students the library's services and resources. 


      Students will be able to:

      Demonstrate an understanding that the library provides space, information resources, and personalized help to support their needs.

    • Freshman English


      Library instruction for the Freshman English course is non-prescriptive, creative, and flexible. Librarians serve in a collaborative and supportive role to faculty in developing shared information literacy goals, lessons and activities, and assignments and assessments. The format, duration and scheduling of library sessions are customized to meet the needs of the instructors’ course design and assignments, and centered around shared goals.

      Librarians employ active learning techniques, including individual and group work, discussion, critical evaluation, and 1:1 help to introduce students to library resources and provide them opportunities to practice their information literacy skills and competencies in order to successfully complete their course research assignments.


      Students will be able to:

      • Explore areas of interest in order to select a topic appropriate for their assignments.
      • Describe the uses of different resource types in order to identify information resources to support their topics.
      • Conduct effective searches in library databases in order to locate, evaluate, and select appropriate resources to support their topics.

      The goals for the EN105 course provide students with introductory knowledge of the library’s services and resources, and serve as a foundation from which students will further develop their information literacy competencies as they progress through their disciplinary programs.

      Types/Forms of Instruction

      • Library classroom sessions, aka the traditional “one-shot” 50 or 75 minute session.
      • Embedding librarians in Sakai courses to allow students to reach out to a librarian for help, or for the librarian to proactively help students as they navigate through the research process. This is often facilitated through a librarian moderated forum or discussion group.
      • SLIPS (short library instruction presentations) of 15-20 minutes in the classroom (rather than in the library) on a single resource or skill to be developed. 
      • Special collaborations, including assignment co-development between librarians and faculty, evening workshops, and individual or group appointments.
      • Customized course Research Guides. We generally create a course guide whenever we work with a class in person; however, we can also create guides for classes with whom we do not meet. The guides then serve as student self-paced online instruction.
      • Research guides and tutorials. We have many existing subject guides and online tutorials, but can create new, customized tutorials on any topic. Creating new guides requires significant prep time and will need to be planned prior to the start of a semester for use in that semester.  For example, new tutorials for the fall should be planned and completed during the summer months. Tutorials for the spring semester should be planned and completed in the fall.
      • Open labs can be scheduled at any time to allow both the librarian and faculty member time to meet with students and address individual research needs during the research and writing process.

      Examples of flexibility

      • Any of the above options can be combined. For example, a one-shot session could be scheduled at the start of a research project. Then, an open lab session following a week or so before the project is due could allow the librarian and instructor time to meet with students one-on-one to address their individual needs. Or a SLIP could be scheduled at any time during the research process if the instructor notices students having difficulty with a particular skill or resource as they proceed through their projects.
      • The IL goals could be addressed through a series of SLIPS throughout the semester and across writing assignments such that students scaffold their learning and skill development over the course of the entire semester, yet the amount of class time is the same as a “one-shot.”
      • In addition to addressing the shared IL goals, the instruction formats can be mixed and matched to address answers to these questions: 1) What types of problems do you see in your students' research papers? 2) What challenges do your students experience as they progress through the research process?

      Best practices

      • Stand alone “one-shots” are not very effective when not attached to an active assignment. Students learn more when they can use their real topics in the sessions to begin finding the information they need.
      • Any instruction outside of class time, e.g. evening workshops, scheduled individual or group appointments, or self-paced online tutorials are not as effective unless they are scheduled/completed at the point of need and participation/completion is graded.
      • Context and timing are key. Any form of instruction is most relevant when it takes place at the moment students think they need it (unfortunately, this isn’t always when instructors and librarians think they need it), and when it addresses an actual rather than fictional information need. Instruction before students have selected at least broad topics is less effective than providing students opportunities to work with their chosen topics during a library session.
      • Using SLIPS to scaffolding information literacy skill development over several assignments in a course is a common and effective method of instruction as it provides students with instruction at the point of need, contextualizes their learning within assignments, and builds skills and knowledge over time.
    • Intermediate Level


      Students at the intermediate level realize information is critical to effective decision making in all aspects of one's life. They can define their information needs at each stage of the research process. They understand how information is structured and classified in their chosen discipline, and learn how to use the most important research resources in their field of study.


      Intermediate level students will be able to:

      • Identify and use the resources pertinent to their majors (books, journals, government documents, primary/secondary resources, Internet resources, etc.)
      • Interpret bibliographic citations and retrieve materials from the library and other sources
      • Evaluate, examine, and select information for quality, accuracy, authority, and reliability
      • Develop effective search strategies using Boolean operators, truncation, controlled vocabulary, and proximity
        searching in the online catalog and specialized subject databases
      • Take advantage of advanced search options in subject databases, such as limiters and thesauri
      • Demonstrate an understanding of copyright and fair use of copyrighted material
      • Use online help, guides, and tutorials to improve search outcomes
      • Locate and use scholarly style guides that are appropriate for their chosen discipline
    • Advanced Level


      Students at the advanced level acknowledge the continual nature of learning. They regularly conduct research or look for new information. They are familiar with key resources in their field of study and the unique features of information creation and dissemination within their discipline. They effectively combine and recombine knowledge. Advanced students actively transfer successful strategies from one domain of knowledge to another.


      Advanced-level capstone/thesis/senior seminar students will be able to:

      • Achieve proficiency with the major research databases in their subject area, including the use of special limiters, controlled vocabularies, and other advanced features
      • Identify and locate a variety of specialized resources that are relevant to their topic, including primary source material, statistical data, multimedia resources, and government publications
      • Evaluate, examine, and select information for quality, accuracy, authority, and reliability
      • Take advantage of Interlibrary Loan to access unique materials available in the collections of other libraries
      • Synthesize information from a variety of sources to support their thesis statements
      • Demonstrate an understanding of copyright and fair use of copyrighted material
      • Transfer critical thinking skills upon graduation to become a self-directed, independent, life-long learner