Share Your Teaching Tool Kit:
Best Practices in Library Instruction

Topic: Teaching Information Literacy Concepts

About twenty people participated in the forum discussion group about teaching information literacy concepts.

The moderator of the group, Laurie Alexander, began by posing three questions under which the comments made in the discussion can be organized.

I. What information literacy concepts are important to teach?

  • Information literacy: the ability to identify a need, and to locate, evaluate, and use information.
  • The distinctions between key word searching and field (or controlled vocabulary) searching.
  • Types of information resources and models for methods of obtaining information.
  • Methods for focusing a search.
  • Evaluating and choosing relevant or otherwise appropriate resources.
  • Concepts that are transferable to other resources and research settings.
  • The structure of citations.
  • The research process.
  • The methods and processes of scholarly communication and how students participate.
  • Plagiarism.

II. What kinds of activities, exercises, and assignments do you use to teach information literacy concepts?

  • Avoid technical terminology or explain when using it.
  • Engage students in a discussion about what information literacy is.
  • When teaching technology introduce concepts in connection with specific tools.
  • Offer course-related and/or course-integrated instruction that ties library research to studentsí assignments or other work.
  • Have students use the same database search techniques in a variety of databases.
  • Use small groups and collaborative activities, e.g., each group chooses a database, performs a search, and presents the results to the class.
  • Do use assessments to determine what patrons are using and what they need to learn.
  • Provide opportunities for hands-on, active learning where students use library resources directly.
  • Teach citation structure by having students create their own database of materials to use in a research project for a course.
  • Teach evaluation by having faculty evaluate the relevance of the studentsí citations for the project.
  • Have students locate and evaluate various types of materials on the World Wide Web and then create a Web page that contains an annotated bibliography of the resources they located.
  • Have students create a research portfolio wherein they record and evaluate the research process and comment on what search strategies and resources worked best.
  • Create Web pages that help faculty teach students academic honesty.
  • Lead students through the process of locating and obtaining materials to produce a bibliography on a topic.

III. How does the teaching environment change the way you teach?

  • In a networked classroom, having a classroom control system allows students to collaborate electronically, to observe and discuss the effectiveness of each others search strategies and techniques.
  • The World Wide Web can be used to provide library instruction on concepts and topics that cannot be included in a workshop because of time or some other constraint.

Submitted by Ross Christiansen

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