American Library Association Information Competency Standards by Discipline
What is Information Literacy and Why Do I Care?
Information literacy is comprised of 5 information related skills: the need for information, how to locate information, how to evaluate information, how to use information to produce a “product” and how to use information ethically.
The official definition:
Information literacy is 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." Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. American Library Association 2006.
In today’s world it is very easy for students to find information, however that information is not always appropriate for an academic purpose nor is it always valid information. Most students can use the internet, yet most are not information literate.
As educators you hold the key to both introducing students to and reinforcing skills related to information seeking behavior and learning—lifelong skills necessary for people in today’s information overloaded world. People are bombarded with information all day long, but how valid is that information and how does one know if it is valid or even how to question its validity.
Need-- The assignments you create are the basis for the beginnings of information learning. Your assignments are the “need” part of information literacy.
Locate—Here is where the library can assist—once you have developed a great assignment we will tailor an information session specific to that class assignment. We not only teach your students how to locate information but also discuss evaluating the information and its ethical use.
Evaluate--Evaluation is a key component. Do you look at the sources they have used? Grading the sources your students use—making sure they are all credible, reliable sources, is an important step.
Use--The end product of the assignment—research paper, PowerPoint, class discussion, etc. –however the student is to use the gathered and evaluated information is a communication experience. The exercise of creating something is what learning/education is all about. Plus it is an employment skill!
Ethics—Central to an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of an academic are the essentials of plagiarism and copyright. Students can be empowered to believe that their words and ideas are important and that it is just those words that, ultimately, you, as their professor want to hear from them.
In the end, we all want students to become critical thinkers with excellent information retrieval and evaluation skills; to graduate with the ability to discern valuable, credible, authoritative information from "misinformation" that is irrelevant or biased. In short, to be enthusiastic scholars and lifelong learners.