ALA

Objectives for Information Literacy Instruction:
A Model Statement for Academic Librarians

Approved by the ACRL Board Jan. 2001.

Introduction

Chronology

In 1997 the Instruction Section of ACRL created a Task Force to review the 1987 Model Statement of Objectives for Academic Bibliographic Instruction. The 1997 Task Force made twelve recommendations, ranging from the "title should more clearly indicate the document's content" to the "statement should be more concise." The Instruction Section subsequently created a Task Force for Revision of the Model Statement of Objectives1 and charged it to follow those recommendations. The Task Force began its work at ALA Annual in 1998.

Concurrently, an ACRL task force was working on information literacy standards for higher education institutions. That task force's document, Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (herein referred to as the Competency Standards) were approved in January 2000 and are available at: http://www.ala.org/acrl/ilcomstan.html

The following Objectives for Information Literacy Instruction: A Model Statement for Academic Librarians updates and replaces the older Model Statement. The Objectives will herein be referred to as the IS Objectives for clarity and to indicate that they were written by a Task Force of the Instruction Section (IS), formerly the Bibliographic Instruction Section of ACRL.

Relationship between the Competency Standards and the IS Objectives: Terminology and Design

The Competency Standards are designed to be used in discussions with administrators and academic departments; they suggest institutional goals or performance outcomes. The IS Objectives provide terminal objectives, those that "break down the overall objectives [the Competency Standards' 'Outcomes'] into specific discrete measurable results."2 According to The Cyclopedic Education Dictionary, outcomes are "the results or the expected results of an educational plan or program." The same source defines an objective as, "In education, a specific purpose or goal to be reached/learned by the student."3 These definitions indicate the relationship between the Competency Standards and the IS Objectives. Thus the instructing librarian may use this document for guidance in developing enabling objectives4 for an individual teaching session, or for a course, or when collaborating with a course instructor to incorporate information literacy instruction into a specific course.

This document uses the generic term "librarian" because of different situations regarding faculty status for librarians. "Course instructor" refers to an individual other than a librarian who has instructional responsibility for a class or workshop, e.g., faculty, adjunct faculty, instructor, lecturer, Web-course developer, information technology staff person.

The numbering system used in the IS Objectives is tied to the numbers used in the print version of the Competency Standards. That is, Standard One, Performance Indicator 1, Outcome c, is numbered 1.1.c., and followed by objectives written for that Outcome. (The Web version of the Competency Standards uses a slightly different numbering system, i.e., Outcome c is Outcome 3.)

Using the IS Objectives

The Competency Standards are the basis for the IS Objectives and it is recommended that the two documents be used together. The IS Objectives flesh out and make more specific the Standards, Performance Indicators, and Outcomes of the Competency Standards. The IS Objectives may be used in a variety of instructional formats. For example, one or two objectives may be employed in a 50-minute "one-shot" class and a related assignment. A librarian working with an instructor to develop a course that infuses information literacy instruction into its content may select several objectives. An information technology staff person may collaborate with a librarian to incorporate some of the objectives into campus IT workshops. Many or all of the objectives may be adopted in a comprehensive program of instruction for information literacy or in a Web-based tutorial. Thus the IS Objectives may be used in part or whole. They expand upon the Competency Standards. The IS Objectives may be used effectively by beginning instructors as well as by experienced teachers, by librarians and other classroom instructors. They are applicable to just one or to numerous instructional sessions with the same individuals. The IS Objectives serve as a detailed supplementary aid to librarians who wish to break the Competency Standards down into smaller instructional components. They are designed to help academic librarians identify and target particular information literacy instructional outcomes. As such, they offer a variety of possible objectives from which to choose.

Librarians may want to refer to both the Competency Standards and the IS Objectives when discussing library and information literacy instruction with faculty and administrators or when planning, delivering, evaluating and revising instructional programs and proposals. Regardless of the stage of the information literacy planning or implementation, librarians should apply such elements of the IS Objectives as are appropriate to the local setting and circumstances.

The IS Objectives provide suggestions for generating ideas about teaching concepts and skills to students, or for ways to talk about information literacy instruction with course instructors. The document provides a support structure on which librarians can build in creative and individual ways.

Responsibility for Information Literacy Instruction

Information literacy encompasses more than good information-seeking behavior. It incorporates the abilities to recognize when information is needed and then to phrase questions designed to gather the needed information. It includes evaluating and then using information appropriately and ethically once it is retrieved from any media, including electronic, human or print sources. The responsibility for helping people become information literate is best shared across a campus, as is clearly indicated in the Competency Standards. Ideally, administrators support information literacy goals for their institutions. Course instructors help their students achieve information literacy in their chosen fields, and librarians and other campus professionals collaborate with course instructors in this effort.

Levels of collaboration between librarians and academic departments differ among institutions as well as within any one institution. One college may determine that one of the Competency Standards' components indicates a clear need for collaboration while another institution may view the same component as primarily a responsibility of the library's instruction program. The tags suggest possible collaborative situations. They serve as reminders of the need for librarians to share in campus-wide collaborative efforts to develop and achieve information literacy goals.

IS Objectives Not Written for All Competency Standards

Objectives were written only for Performance Indicators in the Competency Standards that could best be addressed by the librarian or by the librarian and course instructor collaboratively. Performance Indicators such as, "The information literate student applies new and prior information to the planning and creation of a particular product or performance," refer to components of learning and instruction in ways not usually addressed by librarians. It is for this reason that Standard Four is not addressed in the IS Objectives, nor are some of the Performance Indicators in Standards One, Two, Three and Five. Librarians could, of course, help course instructors develop objectives in these areas.

The IS Objectives and Evaluating Information

Although not all the objectives deal explicitly with the evaluation of information, the need for evaluation and critical thinking is implicit in all stages of research. An objective for Competency Standard 3, Performance Indicator 4, provides an example: "Selects information that provides evidence for the topic." A subordinate objective states that the individual describes "why not all information sources are appropriate for all purposes." Implicit in this objective is the need for the user to evaluate the information source; appropriateness is a judgment made using criteria set by the user or the course instructor.

The objective in the example above also relates closely to the objective for Competency Standard 1, Performance Indicator 1, Outcome 5: "The individual identifies and uses appropriate general or subject-specific sources to discover terminology related to an information need." Thus, subject specificity is an evaluation criterion when selecting a source. As stated above, evaluation is implicit in nearly all the IS Objectives.

Many of the outcomes from the Competency Standards that deal explicitly with evaluation are primarily the teaching responsibility of the course instructor in collaboration with the librarian. For example, the course instructor can address the quality of the content of an information source once it is retrieved; the librarian helps people learn how to interpret information in the sources that can be used for evaluating information during the research process. As reliance on Internet sources increases, the librarian's objectivity and expertise in evaluating information and information sources become invaluable.

Summary

The Competency Standards stress that information literacy "forms the basis for lifelong learning. ... It enables users to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, ... assume greater control over their learning... [and] develop a metacognitive approach to learning, making them conscious of the explicit actions required for gathering, analyzing, and using information." Succinctly stated, this is the purpose of information literacy instruction. The IS Objectives can be used as a guide for the efforts of librarians who promote the Competency Standards at their institutions.

Endnotes

  1. Revision of the Model Statement of Objectives Task Force, 1998 - 2001:
    Marsha Forys, Main Library, University of Iowa Libraries
    Francesca Lane Rasmus, Mortvedt Library, Pacific Lutheran University
    Carla List, Chair; Feinberg Library, Plattsburgh State University of New York
    Judith Pask, Undergraduate Library, Purdue University
    Patrick Ragains, Business and Government Information Center, University Library, University of Nevada
    Nancy Reinhold, Woodruff Library, Emory University
    Robin R. Satterwhite, Tutt Library, Colorado College
    Terry S. Taylor, Richardson Library, DePaul University
    Marjorie M. Warmkessel, Ganser Library, Millersville University
    Esther Grassian, Editorial Consultant; UCLA College Library
  2. Arp, Lori. "Model Statement of Objectives for Academic Bibliographic Instruction: Draft Revision." C&RL News 5 (May 1987): 257.
  3. Spafford, Carol Sullivan; Pesce, Augustus J. Itzo; and Grosser, George S. The Cyclopedic Education Dictionary. Albany, NY: Delmar, 1998.
  4. "Enabling (behavioral) objectives define the specific knowledge or skills necessary to achieve the terminal objectives. They are associated with the behavior of the person who has to master the material." Arp, "Model Statement," 257.

Objectives for Information Literacy Instruction:
A Model Statement for Academic Librarians

Competency Standard One: The information literate student determines the extent of the information needed.
Performance Indicator 1: The information literate student defines and articulates the need for information.

Outcomes include:
1.1.c. Explores general information sources to increase familiarity with the topic

1.1.d. Defines or modifies the information need to achieve a manageable focus

1.1.e. Identifies key concepts and terms that describe the information need

Competency Standard One
Performance Indicator 2: The information literate student identifies a variety of types and formats of potential sources for information.

Outcomes include:
1.2.a. Knows how information is formally and informally produced, organized, and disseminated

1.2.b. Recognizes that knowledge can be organized into disciplines that influence the way information is accessed

1.2.c. Identifies the value and differences of potential resources in a variety of formats (e.g., multimedia, database, website, data set, audio/visual, book)

1.2.d. Identifies the purpose and audience of potential resources (e.g., popular vs. scholarly, current vs. historical)

1.2.e. Differentiates between primary and secondary sources, recognizing how their use and importance vary with each discipline

Competency Standard One
Performance Indicator 3: The information literate student considers the costs and benefits of acquiring the needed information.

Outcomes include:
1.3.a. Determines the availability of needed information and makes decisions on broadening the information seeking process beyond local resources (e.g., interlibrary loan; using resources at other locations; obtaining images, videos, text, or sound)

1.3.c. Defines a realistic overall plan and timeline to acquire the needed information

Competency Standard One
Performance Indicator 4: The information literate student reevaluates the nature and extent of the information need.

Outcomes include:
1.4.a. Reviews the initial information need to clarify, revise, or refine the question

1.4.b. Describes criteria used to make information decisions and choices

Competency Standard Two: The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently.
Performance Indicator 1: The information literate student selects the most appropriate investigative methods or information retrieval systems for accessing the needed information.

Outcomes include:
2.1.c. Investigates the scope, content, and organization of information retrieval systems

2.1.d. Selects efficient and effective approaches for accessing the information needed from the investigative method or information retrieval system

Competency Standard Two
Performance Indicator 2: The information literate student constructs and implements effectively-designed search strategies.

Outcomes include:
2.2.a. Develops a research plan appropriate to the investigative method

2.2.b. Identifies keywords, synonyms and related terms for the information needed

2.2.c. Selects controlled vocabulary specific to the discipline or information retrieval source

2.2.d. Constructs a search strategy using appropriate commands for the information retrieval system selected (e.g., Boolean operators, truncation, and proximity for search engines; internal organizers such as indexes for books)

2.2.e. Implements the search strategy in various information retrieval systems using different user interfaces and search engines, with different command languages, protocols, and search parameters

2.2.f. Implements the search using investigative protocols appropriate to the discipline

Competency Standard Two
Performance Indicator 3: The information literate student retrieves information online or in person using a variety of methods.

Outcomes include:
2.3.a. Uses various search systems to retrieve information in a variety of formats

2.3.b. Uses various classification schemes and other systems (e.g., call number systems or indexes) to locate information resources within the library or to identify specific sites for physical exploration

2.3.c. Uses specialized online or in person services available at the institution to retrieve information needed (e.g., interlibrary loan/document delivery, professional associations, institutional research offices, community resources, experts and practitioners)

Competency Standard Two
Performance Indicator 4: The information literate student refines the search strategy if necessary.

Outcomes include:
2.4.a. Assesses the quantity, quality, and relevance of the search results to determine whether alternative information retrieval systems or investigative methods should be utilized

Competency Standard Two
Performance Indicator 5: The information literate student extracts, records, and manages the information and its sources.

Outcomes include:
2.5.c. Differentiates between the types of sources cited and understands the elements and correct syntax of a citation for a wide range of sources

Competency Standard Three: The information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system.
Performance Indicator 2: The information literate student articulates and applies initial criteria for evaluating both the information and its sources.

Outcomes include:
3.2.a. Examines and compares information from various sources in order to evaluate reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness, and point of view or bias

3.2.c. Recognizes prejudice, deception, or manipulation

3.2.d. Recognizes the cultural, physical, or other context within which the information was created and understands the impact of context on interpreting the information

Competency Standard Three
Performance Indicator 4: The information literate student compares new knowledge with prior knowledge to determine the value added, contradictions, or other unique characteristics of the information.

Outcomes include:
3.4.e. Determines probable accuracy by questioning the source of the data, the limitations of the information gathering tools or strategies, and the reasonableness of the conclusions

3.4.g. Selects information that provides evidence for the topic

Competency Standard Three
Performance Indicator 7: The information literate student determines whether the initial query should be revised.

Outcomes include:
3.7.b. Reviews search strategy and incorporates additional concepts as necessary

3.7.c. Reviews information retrieval sources used and expands to include others as needed

Competency Standard Four: The information literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.
Objectives were not written for this Standard because its Performance Indicators and Outcomes are best addressed by the course instructor, rather than by librarians. (See the Introduction and the Competency Standards document.)

Competency Standard Five: The information literate student understands many of the economic, legal and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses information ethically and legally.
Performance Indicator 1: The information literate student understands many of the ethical, legal and socio-economic issues surrounding information and information technology.

Outcomes include:
5.1.b. Identifies and discusses issues related to free vs. fee-based access to information

Competency Standard Five
Performance Indicator 3: The information literate student acknowledges the use of information sources in communicating the product or performance.

Outcomes include:
5.3.a. Selects an appropriate documentation style and uses it consistently to cite sources

Endnotes

  1. Examples of published style manuals are: Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 5th ed. New York: Modern Language Association, 1999. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 4th ed. Washington, DC: A.P.A., 1994. The Chicago Manual of Style. 14th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993. Council of Biology Editors, Style Manual Committee. Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers. 6th ed. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Appendix

Responsibility Tags for Competency Standards' Outcomes

To emphasize the shared nature of information literacy instruction, the components of the Competency Standards are marked with the tags L and L/C as examples of who might take the lead for a given component. "C" is the abbreviation used to indicate the "course instructor." (See the definition of this term above.) The tags applied to the Competency Standards thus are defined as: L = primarily librarians' responsibility; L/C = responsibility shared by librarians and the course instructor through guidance, consultation or collaboration. The course content is always the responsibility of the course instructor.

The tags are examples of ways to approach the shared responsibilities for information literacy instruction. Again, local preferences may vary. The examples do not include computer center staff, teaching center staff, or the many other campus professionals who may also have a role. Librarians may use the tags as they see fit at their institutions.

Competency Standard One: The information literate student determines the extent of the information needed. Performance Indicator 1: The information literate student defines and articulates the need for information.
Outcomes include:
1.1.c. Explores general information sources to increase familiarity with the topic (L)
1.1.d. Defines or modifies the information need to achieve a manageable focus (L/C)
1.1.e. Identifies key concepts and terms that describe the information need (L/C)

Performance Indicator 2: The information literate student identifies a variety of types and formats of potential sources for information.
Outcomes include:
1.2.a. Knows how information is formally and informally produced, organized, and disseminated (L/C)
1.2.b. Recognizes that knowledge can be organized into disciplines that influence the way information is accessed (L/C)
1.2.c. Identifies the value and differences of potential resources in a variety of formats (e.g., multimedia, database, website, data set, audio/visual, book) (L/C)
1.2.d. Identifies the purpose and audience of potential resources (e.g., popular vs. scholarly, current vs. historical) (L/C)
1.2.e. Differentiates between primary and secondary sources, recognizing how their use and importance vary with each discipline (L/C)

Performance Indicator 3: The information literate student considers the costs and benefits of acquiring the needed information.
Outcomes include:
1.3.a. Determines the availability of needed information and makes decisions on broadening the information seeking process beyond local resources (e.g., interlibrary loan; using resources at other locations; obtaining images, videos, text, or sound) (L/C)
1.3.c. Defines a realistic overall plan and timeline to acquire the needed information (L/C)

Performance Indicator 4: The information literate student reevaluates the nature and extent of the information need.
Outcomes include:
1.4.a. Reviews the initial information need to clarify, revise, or refine the question (L/C)
1.4.b. Describes criteria used to make information decisions and choices (L/C)

Competency Standard Two: The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently.
Performance Indicator 1: The information literate student selects the most appropriate investigative methods or information retrieval systems for accessing the needed information.
Outcomes include:
2.1.c. Investigates the scope, content, and organization of information retrieval systems (L/C)
2.1.d. Selects efficient and effective approaches for accessing the information needed from the investigative method or information retrieval system (L)

Performance Indicator 2: The information literate student constructs and implements effectively-designed search strategies.
Outcomes include:
2.2.a. Develops a research plan appropriate to the investigative method (L/C)
2.2.b. Identifies keywords, synonyms and related terms for the information needed (L)
2.2.c. Selects controlled vocabulary specific to the discipline or information retrieval source (L)
2.2.d. Constructs a search strategy using appropriate commands for the information retrieval system selected (e.g., Boolean operators, truncation, and proximity for search engines; internal organizers such as indexes for books) (L)
2.2.e. Implements the search strategy in various information retrieval systems using different user interfaces and search engines, with different command languages, protocols, and search parameters (L)
2.2.f. Implements the search using investigative protocols appropriate to the discipline (L)

Performance Indicator 3: The information literate student retrieves information online or in person using a variety of methods.
Outcomes include:
2.3.a. Uses various search systems to retrieve information in a variety of formats (L)
2.3.b. Uses various classification schemes and other systems (e.g., call number systems or indexes) to locate information resources within the library or to identify specific sites for physical exploration (L)
2.3.c. Uses specialized online or in person services available at the institution to retrieve information needed (e.g., interlibrary loan/document delivery, professional associations, institutional research offices, community resources, experts and practitioners) (L/C)

Performance Indicator 4: The information literate student refines the search strategy if necessary.
Outcomes include:

2.4.a. Assesses the quantity, quality, and relevance of the search results to determine whether alternative information retrieval systems or investigative methods should be utilized (L/C)

Performance Indicator 5: The information literate student extracts, records, and manages the information and its sources.
Outcomes include:
2.5.c. Differentiates between the types of sources cited and understands the elements and correct syntax of a citation for a wide range of sources (L/C)

Competency Standard Three: The information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system.
Performance Indicator 2: The information literate student articulates and applies initial criteria for evaluating both the information and its sources.
Outcomes include:
3.2.a. Examines and compares information from various sources in order to evaluate reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness, and point of view or bias (L/C)
3.2.c. Recognizes prejudice, deception, or manipulation (L/C)
3.2.d. Recognizes the cultural, physical, or other context within which the information was created and understands the impact of context on interpreting the information (L/C)
Performance Indicator 4: The information literate student compares new knowledge with prior knowledge to determine the value added, contradictions, or other unique characteristics of the information.
Outcomes include:
3.4.e. Determines probable accuracy by questioning the source of the data, the limitations of the information gathering tools or strategies, and the reasonableness of the conclusions (L/C)
3.4.g. Selects information that provides evidence for the topic (L/C)
Performance Indicator 7: The information literate student determines whether the initial query should be revised.
Outcomes include:
3.7.b. Reviews search strategy and incorporates additional concepts as necessary (L/C)
3.7.c. Reviews information retrieval sources used and expands to include others as needed (L/C)

Competency Standard Five: The information literate student understands many of the economic, legal and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses information ethically and legally.
Performance Indicator 1: The information literate student understands many of the ethical, legal and socio-economic issues surrounding information and information technology.
Outcomes include:
5.1.b. Identifies and discusses issues related to free vs. fee-based access to information (L/C)

Performance Indicator 3: The information literate student acknowledges the use of information sources in communicating the product or performance.
Outcomes include:
5.3.a. Selects an appropriate documentation style and uses it consistently to cite sources (L/C)