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Information Literacy Instruction

The library offers a variety of instructional programming that includes curriculum-integrated sessions, tutorials, and other online learning modules that support the development of students' information literacy and research skills.

Faculty and teaching assistants may request curriculum-integrated library instruction sessions to introduce undergraduate and graduate students to information literacy concepts, including critical thinking regarding the construction of information, as well as techniques for accessing and evaluating information. Many instruction sessions are tied to individual research assignments for a course, but some may discuss more conceptual issues related to information access and use.

The library's instructional efforts are aligned with the library Information Literacy Plan, which aims to meet AU's programmatic and department/school-focused learning objectives. Additionally, information literacy instruction at AU Library is influenced by ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, which outlines threshold concepts for the mastery of information literacy. The ACRL Framework consists of six conceptual frames:

  • Authority is Constructed and Contextual
  • Information Creation as a Process
  • Information has Value
  • Research as Inquiry
  • Scholarship as Conversation
  • Searching as Strategic Exploration

The integration of information literacy teaching and learning is a fundamental element in the contribution to the critical thinking skills for students at AU, and is necessary to foster lifelong learning.

Information Literacy Plan

American University Library's Division of Research, Teaching & Learning has implemented a three-tiered information literacy plan that aims to take a comprehensive approach to developing the information literacy skills of students over the course of their college careers. Features of the program are:

Tier One instruction and materials provide a broad, general introduction to major information literacy concepts and skills. Tier One often aligns with AU Core foundation course learning outcomes, but is not limited to these classes. Tier One concepts are also covered in the Information Literacy Tutorial.

  • Tier One instruction concepts include an introduction to the ways in which expertise and credibility create authority in information sources, the purpose of and techniques for strategic exploration of information, the value of citation as a representation of others’ ideas, and broad understanding of information systems.
  • Information covered may include:
    • Introduction to general information sources, e.g., the AU Library Search, subscription databases, Google, and Google Scholar
    • Developing an appropriate scope of research and matching scope of research to appropriate information sources
    • Introduction to search techniques, e.g., Boolean operators, keywords, subject headings, and truncation
    • Introduction to authority construction and information creation processes
    • Understanding the role of citations in upholding academic integrity
    • Introduction to information organization
  • Classes include Written Communication and Information Literacy I (W1), Complex Problems, Habits of Mind, and library introductions/orientations with any population
  • Completion of the information literacy tutorial offers students a limited but initial introduction to information literacy skills.

Tier Two instruction and materials assume prior Tier One instruction, and builds on concepts introduced in Tier One courses, while also advancing and contextualizing concepts and skills from a disciplinary perspective. Tier Two may align with AU Core integrative course learning outcomes, but is not limited to these classes.

  • Tier Two instruction concepts include an introduction to the ways in which expertise and credibility create authority in specific disciplines, the organization of information within a specific discipline and how this organization drives strategic exploration, and the value and standards for information creation, including citation styles. Students are encouraged to see themselves not only as consumers of information, but contributors to a scholarly conversation.
  • Information covered reinforces any Tier One concepts, and may also include:
    • Introductions to discipline-specific subject databases, citation styles, or other information sources within a discipline
    • Developing an appropriate discipline-specific scope of research and matching scope of research to appropriate discipline-specific information sources
    • Advanced search techniques
    • Introduction to authority construction and information creation processes within a discipline
    • Introduction to source management and organization
  • Classes include Written Communication and Information Literacy II (W2) and other courses within the major at both the undergraduate and graduate level

Tier Three instruction assumes prior Tier Two instruction or external knowledge, and builds and synthesizes concepts introduced in Tier One and Tier Two, while also continuing to advance and refine relevant concepts and skills within the discipline which allow student-scholars to create information. Tier Three aligns with the AU Core Capstone course, but is not limited to this class.

  • Tier Three instruction concepts include understanding the scholarly communication standards and practices of a discipline, utilizing sophisticated research skills in order to find and apply information, incorporating authoritative and relevant sources to support their own research, and understanding of their role in contributing to information within academic and other industry information environments
  • Information covered may include:
    • Advanced introductions to and evaluations of discipline-specific subject databases, citation styles, or other complex information sources
    • Introduction to scholarly communication within the discipline, including metrics, open access, and non-standard communication platforms
    • Advanced techniques for source management and organization
    • Application of information literacy concepts and skills to potential career paths
  • This tier supports courses in which students demonstrate their learning through a capstone research project, a substantial research paper (SRP) and classes that progress skills toward a thesis or dissertation.