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" (American Library Assoc., 1989).
Assignments: Information literacy assignments are most effective when they clearly state a research objective that gives students practice in higher-level searching and states a quantifiable expectation of academic sources (usually a minimum of three). A combination of clear assignment expectations and library instruction will steer students in the right direction for locating, evaluating, and utilizing credible sources.
Writing level: Take into consideration the students' writing level when designing information literacy assignments. To match an information literacy objective with beginning academic writing skills, consider some of these alternatives to the "10-page" research paper.
Ideas for information literacy assignments:
Annotated bibliographies: An annotated listing of 10 sources, no more than 2 of which are taken from the “free”/public portion of the Internet.
Research paper proposal: A research paper proposal including a thesis statement, a loose outline, and list of sources.
A compare & contrast essay: A brief essay (1-2 pages) comparing & contrasting print materials that have been chosen by the instructor and placed on course reserve. (Such as a scholarly article vs. a popular article.)
Documented speech on opposing viewpoints: Students give a brief presentation designed to introduce both sides of a controversial issue. Require six quotations from reputable sources on index cards, three from each side of the issue.
Library worksheet: Provide a worksheet to groups of students that requires library databases or print resources such as subject or biographical dictionaries in the library's reference section. Ask the librarian if a worksheet already exists or for one that can
Research portfolio: In addition to an annotated bibliography, actual sources are collected and turned in along with a description of how it could be utilized.
Article review: Require a written, one-page review of a scholarly article. Provide instruction on what constitutes a scholarly article and how to locate one. Explain that they will be critiqued on their choice of an article as well as their critical analysis.
Internet evaluation: Require a half-page evaluation or worksheet for four sources on the same topic, one source each from .com, .org, .gov, and a library database article.
Handouts for information literacy assignments: