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Information Literacy Fundamentals @ Pitt: Basics

This guide defines information literacy and discusses strategies to incorporate information literacy into sessions for students.

What is Information Literacy?

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) division of the American Library Association defines information literacy as "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."

Briefly, there are five standards: know, access, evaluate, use, and ethical/legal. Each of these standards is described in detail at their website with performance indicators and outcomes and practical examples.

What is SAILS?

SAILS stands for Standard Assessment of Information Literacy Skills. It was created by Kent State through a multi-year IMLS Grant and is used by over 80 members of the ACRL. SAILS is a standardized online assessment tool that tests students in 8 information literacy skill areas. This web-based tool allows librarians, in collaboration with faculty, to document information literacy skill levels for groups of students and to pinpoint areas for improvement.

Test questions are based on ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. The test consists of 45 questions from a randomly generated list of over 250 questions. The test takes approximately 30-40 minutes to complete. Answers are collected; scores and reports can be generated by class, department, or school. 

PowerPoints and Documents

The information in this guide is based on information in a series of presentations and documents associated with an Information Literacy Workshop presented by the ULS Information Literacy and Assessment Working Group.

Credit

The information in this guide is based on information in a series of presentations and documents associated with an Information Literacy Workshop presented by the ULS Information Literacy and Assessment Working Group.

This research guide was assembled with the assistance of Eleanor Gehman, MLIS Graduate Student, Hillman Library, University of Pittsburgh 2011-12.

SAILS Information Literacy Objectives

  1. Develop a Research Strategy
  2. Select Finding Tools
  3. Search
  4. Use Finding Tool Features
  5. Retrieve Sources
  6. Evaluate Sources
  7. Document Sources
  8. Understand Economic, Legal, and Social Issues

Bibliographic Instruction vs. Information Literacy

 

Bibliographic Instruction

Information Literacy

Responsibility/Control

 

Librarian-controlled

Collaborative responsibility

Relation to curriculum

 

External/tangential

Integral

Placement in curriculum

Isolated learning episodes (one-shot, workshop, unlinked credit courses)

Pervasive throughout the curriculum, linked credit courses, competency requirements

Content focus

Tools, search interfaces

Overarching concepts, critical thinking processes, thinking standards

Teaching methods

Librarian control/didactic approaches

Construction of learning environments; librarian and faculty act as guides, facilitators

Learning transfer

Limited (except skills)

Increased due to multiple learning opportunities, internal motivation, deeper grasp of concepts

Assessment

Focus on limited evaluations, skill-based measurements

Focus on competencies, standards as yardstick for outcomes based approaches

Relationship to place

Focus on specific libraries

Focus on unbounded universe of information

Role of technology

Limited, used in relatively inflexible ways

Expanded role, variety of technologies selected to match instructional situations (“technology as a lever”)

Created by Craig Gibson, Associate University Librarian for Public Services at George Mason University, and Karen Williams, Digital Library Initiatives Team Leader, University of Arizona for the Immersion Program at ACRL/Institute for Information Literacy and Copyright held by ALA.

Companion Guide