Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Information Literacy Competencies, Standard One

The next few posts by Rachel Jorgensen, Information Literacy Librarian, will focus on explicating the five information literacy concepts as defined by the Association of College and Research Libraries, a subdivision of the American Library Association.
Each competency is comprised of the main standard that is further defined by “performance indicators” and “outcomes.” In this way, ACRL has fully defined and developed each standard and provided benchmarks for teaching, learning and assessment.
Standard One: The information literate student determines the nature and extent of the information needed.
Standard one has four performance indicators:
  1. ”…defines and articulates the need for information.”
  2. ”…identifies a variety of types and formats of potential sources for information.”
  3. ”…considers the costs and benefits of acquiring the needed information.”
  4. ”…reevaluates the nature and extent of the information need.”
Outcomes for this standard include:
  • The ability to create a thesis statement.
  • Develops lists of keywords for research.
  • Understands the difference between types of materials, such as primary vs secondary, scholarly vs popular.
  • Able to communicate research criteria, research plan and can modify this plan and criteria in response to outside factors.
On a practical level, this is one of the easier standards to teach, as the skills are concrete (creating a subject statement, devising a list of keywords from that subject statement, brainstorming a list of possible resources, organizing the resources by type and associating type of resource to research tool, such as the library catalog, article database, etc).

However, this activity of differentiating and defining can be the first and last hurdle for students – many do not get past this point and end up using whatever they can find. Because of this it becomes difficult to move students towards the more abstract information literacy skills, such as understanding the legal and ethical use of information.

In order to make sure students can clear this first hurdle, the Information Literacy Program focuses on providing learning opportunities for students, as they enter UDC as Freshman, as well as students at higher class levels. The program does this by providing instruction sessions for classes, working with the Freshman Orientation program, providing one-on-one assistance to students and offering workshops that target particular research-oriented and critical thinking skills.

Despite its age, the ACRL ‘s Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education is the primary document for the field of Information Literacy – it guides information literacy programming and curriculum in most academic libraries and is the foundation for other documents, such as the Middle State Commission on Higher Education’s Guidelines for Institutional Improvement, which includes a publication on “Developing Research & Communication Skills: Guidelines for Information Literacy in the Curriculum.”

For more information contact Rachel Jorgensen, Information L iteracy Librarian @ 274-6116.

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