What is Information Literacy?

What is Information Literacy?

According to the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), information literacy is a set of abilities enabling individuals to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information." Information literacy encompasses more than just library skills; it also includes media literacy and computer/technology fluency. Information Literacy is best integrated across the curriculum with collaboration from the university faculty and staff.

Information Literacy at UCCS

UCCS bases its information literacy program on the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (2000). The five standards are:

  1. Determine the extent of information needed.
  2. Access the information effectively and efficiently.
  3. Evaluate the information and sources critically.
  4. Use information effectively for a specific purpose.
  5. Use/incorporate information ethically and legally.

The primary goal of the information literacy program is to establish a comprehensive, integrated and systematic program for students that is predicated on a progression through skill sets in order to graduate students with information literacy competencies. This assumes a general progression in knowledge and critical thinking abilities over time, as well as a gradual integration of IL skills into existing required courses in foundational, upper-division, and graduate level courses.

Pre-Foundational Curriculum (pre-college)

Program Partners: Librarians, local high school media specialists, local public librarians
Program Focus: Pre-foundational skills, encourage library use and good behavior, introduction and practice (pre-college)
Assessment: Librarians will assess their students' pre-foundational skill level through their own teaching and from formal and informal pre-tests and student feedback, including session evaluations. Students may complete assignments or projects which demonstrate these learning outcomes.

We hope that all students will have had some pre-foundational curriculum in high school or whatever they did before college. The focus here is to encourage library use and good library behavior, and to review pre-foundational skills such as the parts of a book, reference tools, using an index, atlas, dictionary, thesaurus, etc., library rules of behavior, etc. This may be students' first exposure to books and libraries. Unfortunately, this often gets pushed to the next level, which is the foundational curriculum, and this is where we will begin focusing our efforts at UCCS.

In the future, collaboration with local high school media specialists may be sought to help students begin incorporating these more basic skill sets here.

Foundational Curriculum (freshman year and sophomore years)

  • Program Partners: Librarians and discipline faculty
  • Program Focus: Foundational IL skills, introduction and practice (year 1); Building on and reinforcing the foundational skills and concepts (year 2)
  • Assessment: Librarians will assess their own teaching from formal and informal student feedback, including session evaluations. Students will complete assignments or projects such as annotated bibliographies which demonstrate learning outcomes. Assessments may be built into course assignments.
  • Foundational Level Competencies

In the foundational curriculum, which should occur in the first year or two, the focus is on foundational IL skills, instruction, and practice. Ideally, students should receive foundational IL instruction within a systematic and focused program as close to the beginning of their educational experience as possible. This foundational curriculum will bring all students up to the same level of basic understanding and functionality so that future development can take place in the appropriate contextual setting as they progress through their studies. Ensuring that all students enter with the same basic skill set means that:

  • faculty can assume students entering their sophomore year all have a certain knowledge base that they can build on in their own subject context.
  • planning for more advanced IL instruction involving the library faculty is easier.
  • faculty and librarians know what skills have been taught and where students are so that appropriate opportunities for practicing and reinforcing these skills can be planned.

After students have received the basics, we focus on building and reinforcing foundational skills and concepts. The content and form of this curriculum will be determined by the classes with which it partners (e.g. Writing Program courses).

Upper Division Undergraduate/Discipline Specific Curriculum (junior & senior years)

  • Program Partners: Discipline faculty and librarians
  • Program Focus: Integrating skills and expanding knowledge of specialized, discipline-specific resources
  • Assessment: Librarians will assess their teaching from formal and informal student and faculty feedback. Learning outcomes assessment will be developed collaboratively by librarians and discipline faculty.
  • Upper Division Competencies

The discipline specific curriculum occurs in the students' junior and senior years, and involves a lot of collaboration between discipline faculty and librarians. The focus here is integrating skills and expanding knowledge of specialized, discipline-specific resources, advanced searching and evaluating skills, and ethical matters in the context of each of the disciplines. Librarians will partner with the faculty in the colleges to plan IL curriculum and assessment tools that meet the students' needs in each college. This curriculum should be flexible and organic, changing with the needs of the college as faculty come and go and as college educational goals evolve.

Graduate Curriculum

  • Program Partners: Discipline faculty, librarians, and student peers
  • Program Focus: Expanding opportunities for conducting research in the discipline
  • Assessment: Librarians will assess their teaching from formal and informal student and faculty feedback. Learning outcomes assessment will be developed collaboratively by librarians and discipline faculty.
  • Graduate Level Competencies

The graduate curriculum provides expanding opportunities for conducting research in the discipline. Librarians work with faculty to design IL sessions at a more advanced level, and by this time, are dealing with students that are more competent and skilled in information literacy. Instruction at this level should focus on advanced assistance with research methods and resources.

Extra-Curricular Activities Curriculum

  • Program Partners: Students, faculty, staff and librarians
  • Program Focus: Reinforcing IL competencies in non-traditional environments, such as clubs, student organizations, and other extracurricular groups (e.g. Excel Centers, Career Center, Student Success, student housing...)

The focus of this curriculum is to expand focus on information literacy skills outside the classroom, and to develop a culture of information literacy practice on campus. The information literacy program will support this concept by forming partnerships with these campus entities to build IL into their activities and events on campus, such as the Freshman Seminar Program, Major and Minors Fair, Career Fair, and various workshops hosted by these groups.

Life-Long Learning

Life long learning is our ultimate goal and, while not an official part of our curriculum, is what we hope that we will accomplish with our efforts. We hope to produce UCCS graduates who are more informed information consumers.