Promoting Information Literacy Skills Development

Instructor: Kristen Goode

Kristen has been an educator for 25+ years - as a classroom teacher, a school administrator, and a university instructor. She holds a doctorate in Education Leadership.

Information literacy is the ability to locate and evaluate reputable information and to use it appropriately. This lesson will take a close look at information literacy and discuss methods by which information literacy might be taught to students.

Learning to do Research

Abigail is a high school student preparing to write a report about the United States government. Abigail knows she is going to need to do some research in order to write her report and is preparing to do so on her laptop computer. Prior to searching, however, Abigail knows that she must be prepared to use research skills that enable her to do a thorough search for reputable information that will be used in her writing. She also understands that as she writes, she will need to adhere to all copyright laws and take steps to avoid plagiarism. These skills that Abigail will use are all related to information literacy.

Information Literacy

Information literacy is a person's ability to know when information is needed, locate the information, evaluate the information, and use it effectively. It goes beyond just being able to search for something on the internet or in a book. It involves being able to determine whether or not the information obtained is true and reliable and the ability to apply the information where needed.

Importance of Information Literacy

When students, like Abigail, are given an assignment that requires research, it is important that they know where to start and how to conduct searches for the information they need. As teachers, we do not want them simply using Google as a quick source of information. Rather, we wish for them to conduct a thorough search for reputable and useful information that is applicable to the assignment at hand. It is for this reason that strong information literacy skills are needed among all students.

There is a lot to consider when discussing information literacy.
information literacy wordle

Promoting Information Literacy

There are several methods by which information literacy skills might be promoted and developed.

Teaching Information Literacy

  • Integrate information literacy skills into curriculum. Discuss aspects of information literacy as you explain assignments and give examples. Talk about information literacy as it relates to the materials that are read or discussed in class.
  • Teach students directly about plagiarism and discuss ways to avoid it.
  • Teach students how to determine what pictures or graphics are copyrighted and which are free to be used.
  • Make recommendations to students as you come across reputable sites or journals. Share your own information search results with your students.
  • Invite a librarian to speak to students about different methods of finding information as well as how to determine whether or not information found is reputable.
  • Talk to students about the use of keywords and search terms. Discuss examples as to how best to determine what words or terms might bring about the strongest search results.

Providing Practice with Information Literacy

  • Encourage students to keep a journal of their information searches including sites visited, journals read, terms that were searched, and the results of information searches (positive or negative).
  • Require students to use multiple resources (and even multiple types of resources) in their work.
  • Develop and administer a library scavenger hunt that enables students to familiarize themselves with multiple aspects of both the library itself and other sources of information available to them online.
  • Require the use of concept maps or other visual diagrams developed to enhance the research process.
  • Have students create annotated bibliographies that include information about each of the sources they use in their work.

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