Information Literacy Activities
Students don't always know where to find scholarly resources or how to evaluate non-scholarly resources for quality. As a result, inquiry classes frequently include some form of information literacy activities to help students pursue their research with the best possible research practices.
Many campus libraries will gladly arrange for either a library tour or a visit to your class by a librarian. A few pointers from a librarian who sees mistakes commonly made by novice researchers can save your students a great deal of time and frustration. Be sure to check with your campus library to see if you can arrange something with them. If you teach at UT Austin, you can contact your campus librarians about this here.
There are many kinds of information literacy activity, but they all include students being required to find some kind of information from a specific resource with which they may not have prior experience: an online scholarly database, a campus information resource, and so on. The University of Texas Library System has an excellent collection of information literacy activities in the Signature Course Faculty Toolkit.
Students these days will often consult Google or some other web search engine for most or all of their research. As teachers, we must require that they evaluate the credibility of every online source they utilize. An example of this kind of requirement appears below.
Example: Evaluating Web Sites
Excerpted from the The University of Texas Library's Signature Course Toolkit.
Because anyone can publish on the Web, it is important to be able to distinguish between reliable and unreliable web sites. Consider all of the following criteria when evaluating a web site.
- Who wrote it?
- What are their qualifications?
- Are they experts?
- Who published/hosted it?
- Is the publisher/host reputable?
- Why was this site created?
- Is this fact or opinion?
- Is it biased?
- Is this true?
- Can you tell where they got their information?
- Can you find this information elsewhere?
- When was the information published or last updated?
- Is it current enough for your research?
To ensure the quality of resources students want to use for their inquiry, you can require them to complete one of the several evaluation worksheets in the UT Signature Course Faculty Toolkit for every web-site they want to cite in their paper.