Help with Teaching Information Literacy Skills

Earlier this year the University of Cincinnati’s library staff polled our faculty about the information literacy skills they wanted their students to develop. Based on the responses, the librarians developed a website that provides an extensive array of materials on this topic.

I have their permission to share the site’s address with you—it’s

What is information literacy?

As the site says,

“The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) defines information literacy as a set of abilities requiring individuals to ‘recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.'”

What’s involved in teaching information literacy?

Though the specific answer will vary from discipline to discipline, the site’s main tabs suggest that such instruction will include guidance on the following:

  • Framing the research question and identifying sources of information,
  • Identifying keywords for a search and planning a search strategy,
  • Evaluating sources, and
  • Organizing and presenting information effectively and using it ethically/legally.

The site also offers . . .

  • Tips for constructing research-related assignments, and
  • Tips for making one’s information-literacy instruction more effective.

Of course, since these materials are intended for the whole university, some of them are only marginally relevant to bcomm. For example, the advice that an effective assignment should “introduce students to the literature of a discipline” wouldn’t apply very often to our courses. And many of the sample assignments, tutorials, and tips are better for “choose-a-topic” type assignments than for the scenario-based assignments that we usually give.

But much of what’s here can easily be adapted to the bcomm classroom, and quite a bit of it is usable “off the shelf.” It can definitely help make your next research assignment more effective.

If you explore the site, please let us know what you think of it (UC’s librarians would love the feedback, too) and add any additional tips you have for increasing students’ information literacy in bcomm.

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