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Incorporating Information Literacy in Your Course

Incorporating Information Literacy in Your Course

Here are several options for assignments that incorporate information literacy competencies into your courses, divided up by general skill sets. Some are suited more for advanced or upper division courses, while others are appropriate for lower level undergraduates. These examples can be adapted for most subject areas. Feel free to add specifics to make the assignment relevant to your class.

Introduction to the Library and Library Resources

For students who have no familiarity with the library resources, services, or research, scheduling a session with a librarian is often the best method. Sessions can include tours of all or part of the library, or presentations on specific resources (e.g. library catalog, general article databases).

Preparing Theses and Focused Research Questions

Given a general topic idea in your discipline (e.g. stem cell research) have students prepare focused research questions or thesis statements that are appropriate for a 5-10 page research paper. This will help students learn how to broaden or focus a particular issue, and will familiarize them with the mechanics of writing good thesis statements.

Differentiating Between Substantive and Non-Substantive Literature (Scholarly vs. Popular)

  • Locate a popular magazine article and a scholarly journal article on the same subject. Compare the two articles for content, style, bias, audience, etc.
  • Identify opposing viewpoints on a controversial issue and select one to work with. Compare popular and scholarly works supporting your chosen viewpoint.

Reading Citations

Reading citations or bibliographies is something that many students have difficulty with.

Provide students with a bibliography from a current book or research article in your discipline. Have them identify which citations are books, chapters of books, articles in reference books, articles in periodicals, web sites, conference proceedings, etc. Have them locate items that are available at the Kraemer Library (which are available in print? electronically? in multiple formats?). For items not owned by the library, have them explain how they might obtain these items. Have them locate and read two of those items and summarize them. (If you provide quality bibliographies you know that they are reading good sources on subjects you want them to be familiar with.)

Differentiating Between Primary and Secondary Literature

Find primary sources and secondary sources on a particular issue or historical period. Contrast the treatment in the primary sources with the treatment in secondary sources (including the textbook).

Critically Evaluating Information

  • Select a topic and compare how that topic is treated in two to five different sources.
  • Analyze three journals in a given discipline in terms of content, style, audience, presentation, etc.
  • Read an editorial and find the facts to support or contradict it using substantive literature.
  • Evaluate a particular source (book, article, or Web site).
  • Contrast journal articles or editorials on a particular topic from recent publications reflecting conservative and liberal tendencies.

Research Assignments

Have students complete research papers or other major projects in stages. Create assignments which step students through the research process so that the research process (not necessarily the final deliverable) becomes the focus of the assignment. For example, students might first be required to prepare a focused research question or thesis statement, then cite potential resources to answer the question (books, articles, etc.). Students would be required to turn in deliverables at each stage of the process. If feedback is provided promptly, students can be redirected and advised as the project progresses. This is also one way to avoid plagiarism.

  • Update an existing bibliography or review of the literature, or create a bibliography on a particular topic using sources published within a specific timeframe.
  • Prepare an annotated bibliography on a particular topic. Require students to locate a number of specific formats (book, popular magazine article, newspaper article, government document, scholarly journal article, reference book, Web site, conference proceedings, dissertation, etc.). This will enable students to be able to use specific tools (catalogs, databases, etc.) to locate specific formats of information.
  • Pick a topic and research it using literature from a specific time frame (e.g. the 80's and 90's). Then research the same topic in a different timeframe (e.g. 90's-00's). Compare and contrast treatment of the topic in an essay. Have students cite their sources in the style of your field (APA, MLA, Turabian, CBE, etc.).
  • Create a web page on a narrow topic relevant to the course. Include meta sites, e-journals, discussion lists, and organizations.
  • Locate a scholarly journal article on a particular topic, and write a critical analysis of the article. Or, ask students to provide a critical response to two journal articles you have placed on reserve. Provide general or specific criteria for the response.