Addressing Information Literacy Proficiencies in Assignments
Library research assignments can offer an effective, hands-on method to introduce and develop students' information literacy skills and familiarize students with the special resources and research tools in a field of study.
In the complex information environment of databases, Web search tools, and competing sources of information, students need guidance in finding and assessing their sources. Learning to apply basic search strategies and evaluative criteria and developing knowledge of discipline-specific sources can serve a lifetime of productive learning. An effective library assignment can offer such guidance.
Many academic library Web sites offer checklists for designing effective library research assignments. These sites also point out notable "red flags," such as scavenger hunts or other “locate and retrieve” skill-based exercises, which most academic librarians agree are counterproductive and discourage higher level student learning.
Library Assignments: Do and Don’t
Do consult with your liaison librarian to brainstorm, plan or review assignments which support engaged, informed learning and effectively use the Helmke Library’s collection and services.
Do incorporate higher level information literacies in your assignment. For example, rather than “locate and retrieve” assignments, work with your librarian to design assignments which incorporate linear searching skills but also move towards the more complex, and ultimately more useful, critical thinking, decision-making or problem-solving exercises such as assessing information’s credibility and authority or discerning different ways of thinking about a topic.
Don’t create an assignment that assumes that all students are information literate and have had previous experience doing library research.
Don’t require all students to use the same source or a small number of sources; the sources (books, etc.) may disappear or become damaged.
Don’t create assignments incorporating sources that the library does not own, or that are dependent on policies and procedures the library cannot support. Library exercises adapted from another source or textbook should be modified and tailored to match the Helmke Library and IPFW information environment.
Don’t focus on a scavenger hunt or “locate and retrieve” exercises. These linear exercises foster a mentality of “I find it, I use it, I forget it after the exam or paper”. Instead, emphasize informed learning competencies involving critical thinking such as judging the quality and authority of the source or comprehending the search process. These mirror the information competencies needed for employment and lifelong learning.
Library Assignments: Information Literacy
The following links highlight the how and why of designing quality academic library research assignments.
Created by: Information Services & Instruction
Date: 2012-09-04; 2002-10-12