Information literacy is about finding, evaluating, and using information effectively. According to the Association of College & Research Libraries, information literacy is defined as “the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.”
Information literacy skills are crucial not only for academic research, which requires finding and evaluating information, but also for informed and ethical participation in a democratic society. Information literacy is also important in the workplace, in financial planning, and in making health-related decisions, among other areas.
Information literacy instruction at the University of Louisville supports student success with research in a wide variety of contexts, encouraging both undergraduate and graduate students to think more critically about information and helping them find high-quality primary and secondary sources online and in print.
This is a list of the most commonly requested research instruction sessions. We adapt most sessions to focus on information literacy within the context of course-specific learning outcomes and assignments. Please note that this list is not comprehensive — we are happy to customize the session according to the needs of your class.
Please note that standard English 101 Instruction is now offered solely as an asynchronous online module, which covers general library resources and search techniques. Please find the online module and additional information here: english101online.
Topics: searching library databases and other online tools (can be adapted to specific assignments); developing effective research questions and information search strategies; evaluating sources, including scholarly articles
Topic: evaluating the credibility of information sources
Topic: developing search strategies and learning about library resources relevant to a particular class assignment/topic
Topic: evaluating the quality, credibility, and relevance of various sources within the information ecosystem
Topics: understanding the role of peer-reviewed sources in academic research; strategies for finding and evaluating peer-reviewed sources
The librarian will contact you to discuss the goals, content, and activities for the session.
Information literacy instruction supports student success with research in a wide variety of contexts at the university. Individual class sessions and the instruction program as a whole are primarily assessed through post-session student surveys and faculty surveys. Online instruction is assessed through quizzes, activities, and/or completion logs. Given the customized nature of instruction and the diverse needs of both students and faculty across academic programs, we do not systematically assess learning outcomes for the entire student population we serve. Rather, we use the knowledge practices defined on this page as the foundation for instructional design, including the development of assessment measures for individual library sessions and online learning objects.
The knowledge practices inform pedagogy and guide content development for information literacy and library research instruction in face-to-face and online contexts. The knowledge practices are not prescriptive but provide a general overview of the information literacy practices, skills, and modes of thinking that students should be working towards developing in University of Louisville courses. Knowledge practices are defined within three broad categories:
Students should begin to conceptualize research as a process of critical inquiry in which they are active participants. Students should begin to develop foundational skills in finding, evaluating, and using information for college-level research assignments.
Students should conceptualize research from a disciplinary perspective and begin to contribute to the creation of new knowledge from that perspective. Students should develop more nuanced skills in finding, evaluating, and using information to explore discipline-specific research questions.
Students should begin to make substantial contributions to a disciplinary or interdisciplinary body of knowledge. Students should develop highly advanced skills in finding, evaluating, using, and disseminating information as active participants in a scholarly or professional community.
The knowledge practices incorporate language from the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. Additionally, while the practices should be considered discipline-neutral, the lower-division practices are based in part on the learning outcomes for the English 101-102 composition sequence, and the upper-division practices are based in part on learning outcomes from research methods courses in the social sciences and other areas. Librarians approach the knowledge practices with flexibility, tailoring library sessions and online guides/modules/tutorials to the goals and objectives of particular courses and assignments.
Students who are developing their information literacy skills will:
Students who are developing their information literacy skills will:
At the graduate level, students should continue to develop the practices defined for upper-division courses, in addition to the following:
As confirmed by a growing body of research, including the ongoing series of Project Information Literacy national studies, students experience many challenges while conducting academic research. These challenges include developing a viable research topic, constructing effective online searches, evaluating the credibility of sources, and navigating a complex and rapidly evolving information ecosystem. Without direct instruction and regular guidance, students will often struggle with research assignments and may not develop the necessary skills to succeed in the classroom, in the workplace, and in society. In a world where false or misleading information proliferates online, information literacy is perhaps more important than ever before.
If you have ever been disappointed in the quality of your students’ research, consider working with us. In 2016-17, more than 90% of surveyed students in our library sessions (n = 1,941) agreed that they were introduced to new research strategies and resources with which they were previously unfamiliar. Our faculty librarians collaborate with professors to tailor instruction to the needs of the class and the assignment. Our primary goal is to support faculty efforts to improve student research practices across disciplines and class levels. We accomplish this by teaching face-to-face and online library sessions, as well as developing custom online tutorials and research guides. Contact Rob Detmering for more information about our instructional services.
After you request a library instruction session, the librarian working with your class will contact you to align goals and ensure that the content of the session will meet the needs of your class and assignment.
In general, we avoid the pure lecture format and encourage active student participation through group work and other in-class exercises. Exercises may include brainstorming search strategies, exploring particular databases, identifying the key characteristics of sources (such as peer-reviewed articles), or applying evaluation criteria to sources.
We believe that students learn the most in a single session by participating in their own learning and focusing on one or two specific skills or concepts. We do not attempt to address all aspects of using the library in one session, as this is not a feasible or realistic goal.