The purpose of this document is to articulate a plan for furthering the integration of information literacy into the Northeastern Illinois University curriculum.
Northeastern Illinois University’s mission is to be a public comprehensive university with locations throughout Chicago, and provide an exceptional environment for learning, teaching, and scholarship. The University prepares a diverse community of students for leadership and service in our region and in a dynamic multicultural world. Librarians at the Ronald Williams Library believe that information literacy is an essential part of the preparation students need to succeed after graduation.
The goal of the NEIU information literacy program is to increase information literacy among undergraduate students at Northeastern Illinois University in accordance with the Baccalaureate Goals for NEIU, and among graduate students in accordance with their disciplinary needs.
The first Baccalaureate Goal for NEIU students is the development of intellectual and practical skills, including information literacy and research experience.
Information literacy, as defined by the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy:
[Is] 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 literate students are able to think critically about the processes that govern the creation, dissemination, and value of knowledge in their academic, personal, and professional lives. Information literate students are able to effectively evaluate and analyze information from a variety of sources, and properly incorporate those sources into written and oral communication. The Ronald Williams Library at Northeastern Illinois University is committed to building students' information literacy through library instruction, in every discipline, at strategic points in the curriculum to satisfy specific student learning goals.
Specifically, subject librarians are committed to teaching students the following concepts for information literacy as is relevant to specific disciplines and fields of study. Underneath each concept are examples of guiding questions that may be answered through library instruction.
Searching as Strategic Exploration
What tools or resources can students search to find the information they need?
What are the different strategies for searching those sources?
Information Creation as a Process
What kinds of resources should students search to find the information they need?
What are the qualitative differences of each format? How does this vary by and within a discipline?
Information Has Value
What is the difference between “free” and paid information?
How can students work with the intellectual property of others ethically and responsibly?
How can access to information be powerful?
Authority Is Constructed and Contextual
How can students identify an authority or authoritative work in their discipline?
How does that concept of authority privilege some sources of information over others?
What are the limits of a given source of information?
Scholarship as Conversation
How, and why, has research on a specific topic changed over time?
How can students be part of the scholarly conversation on a specific topic?
Research as Inquiry
How can students learn to deal with complex research questions?
How can information be organized and interpreted in meaningful ways?
These concepts and guiding questions for information literacy push students to think critically about how to find the right sources of information, what makes those sources of information valuable and authoritative, and how to take part in the process of scholarship and research. The concepts speak directly to the Baccalaureate Goals of inquiry, evaluation, analysis, critical, and creative thinking, as well as the goal of using classroom knowledge to identify and tackle big questions and practical issues of everyday life.
Library instruction may occur via individual research consultations, group instruction sessions, or online through the learning management system, at a singular encounter or over a series of encounters. The Ronald Williams Library's information literacy program sees students at five levels in their academic careers:
1. Orientation, Summer Bridge Program, and Developmental courses
2. First-year Experience and English 102
3. Introduction to disciplinary research (100-200 level courses)
4. Advanced research within disciplines (200-300 level courses)
5. Graduate research (400 level courses)
Each of these levels will be described in turn.
The success of these student learning goals will be measured in a variety of ways, both in and outside of formal library instruction, and the measurement will be decided upon based on collaboration with the faculty member teaching the course. Subject librarians have found that assessment is most effective when the faculty member allows credit to be assigned to any assessment activities that librarians design. For that reason, librarians may request points to be assigned to library instruction, at faculty discretion.
1. Orientation, Summer Bridge Program, and Developmental courses
Students at this level are becoming familiar with the university environment. Orientation and Summer Transition Program (STP) courses familiarize students with the library as a place, making them aware that we have services that they need. The STP program, along with remedial courses, support students’ transition from high school to college, as well as enhance their math, reading comprehension, and writing skills prior to their first year of college. STP courses are six-week courses that take place over the summer and may have writing assignments, but rarely have a research component.
At this level, the subject librarian will teach students to be able to:
Find basic information about the library and its services;
Locate a variety of resources in the library catalog.
First-year experience and English 102 are required courses for most incoming students. They are disciplinary and often have a research component. FYE has research assignment that requires students to use a variety of resources, including web resources. ENGL 102 has a research paper, often requiring the use of journal articles.
In FYE classes, subject librarians will teach students to be able to:
Identify the types of resources needed for a college level research assignment;
Select different kinds of resources appropriate for use in an assignment.
In ENG 102 classes, subject librarians will teach students to be able to:
Identify the difference between scholarly and popular resources;
Employ basic searching techniques in Academic Search Complete.
In both FYE and ENG 102 classes, subject librarians will teach students to be able to:
Evaluate the validity of different kinds of resources using given evaluation methods.
When students begin to take coursework in and beyond the General Education curriculum, they may begin to work in a discipline in which they may go on to major. At this level, students need to become familiar with introductory resources to their discipline, major research trends within that discipline, and how to use more advanced research tools, including subject headings and specific databases.
In library instruction at this level, subject librarians will use their disciplinary knowledge to teach students to be able to:
Find a variety of resources related to their discipline, including, but not limited to: websites, books, peer-reviewed articles, primary sources (including datasets), as relevant to the coursework of the class;
Develop keywords and refine their topics;
Employ advanced searching techniques;
Evaluate scholarly resources based on their authorship, publisher, place in the information production cycle, and currency;
Use a course-appropriate citation style.
While many of the goals at this level are based on searching and finding resources, students are continuing to practice and expand their understanding of authority and authorship and the differences between academic and non-academic sources and formats.At this level, students are just becoming familiar with understanding the conversation of scholarship and research as an ongoing activity.
As students advance in their academic careers, they begin to specialize within disciplines, and faculty will ask them to complete more in-depth research assignments using discipline-specific resources. To supplement the foundational research skills that students gained in previous library instruction at lower levels, at this level, librarians will teach more advanced searching techniques, formats, and values, and encourage students to take a more critical approach to the evaluation of information.
In library instruction at this level, subject librarians may use their disciplinary knowledge to teach students to be able to:
Navigate a wide range of search tools and aids to best suit their research needs;
Synthesize resources from a variety of formats, taking into account the variations in authority, source format, and publisher;
Critically evaluate resources for potential bias, and determine if resources are relevant to their research;
Identify important authors, publishers, and resources in their discipline; and
Begin to develop their own authoritative voice in a particular area, recognizing the responsibilities this entails, including seeking accuracy and reliability, respecting intellectual property, and participating in communities of practice.
Students in the graduate program engage in highly specialized, discipline-specific coursework with a focus on research. Though the students have completed work at the undergraduate level, they enter their graduate studies with a diversity in educational background and experience. Students may be new to both the expectations of graduate level research and the NEIU-specific library research environment.
Librarians will teach students at this level to be able to:
Locate and request articles, books, and archival materials at NEIU;
Identify appropriate research methods based on the need and scope of the research question;
Identify how their own research fits within the field, to engage in the information ecosystem as both a consumer and a producer of new knowledge;
Use heuristic analysis to evaluate and question the authority of a source; and
Refine their own authoritative voice in a particular area, recognizing the responsibilities this entails, including seeking accuracy and reliability, respecting intellectual property, and participating in communities of practice.
Last updated: 2015-09-16