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Information Literacy Toolkit: Tools & Quality Practices

Find resources and tools for designing new or revising existing assignments to strength the information literacy skills of your students

Integrating Information Literacy into Assignments

Whether you are creating an assignment from scratch or adjusting an existing assessment, it is important to be clear and intentional in how you build information literacy (IL) skills into it. In the context of an assignment, IL can include:

  • Developing a research topic
  • Finding academic sources
  • Finding trade/industry/other specialized sources
  • Evaluating the quality of sources
  • Using sources as evidence
  • Attributing sources (typically by using a citation style)

Below are best practices and tools to use at each stage of the assignment design and revision process.

Designing the Assignment

Best practices for assignment design include identifying and defining what IL skills are in your course and require assessment. We recommend a process-oriented approach:

  • Choose an assignment format that will provide an effective and (where possible) authentic assessment of how a student is meeting the learning outcome(s). For more information about authentic assessment, see CADI's online course on PeopleNow or explore the Library's resources.
  • Scaffold the assignment when possible, refining it according to the developmental stage of your students and/or breaking down large assignments into parts. For example, you might divide a written report into three components: a search plan, an annotated bibliography, and a final draft.
  • Outline the steps that students need to go through in order to complete the assignment. For example, will they choose their own topic or select from a list? If the former, do they have the ability to develop a research question/topic that is not too broad or narrow in scope? If the latter, do they have experience narrowing a broad topic/are the topics in the list manageable or appropriate at this point in the curriculum? Consider adjusting the requirements according to what the students are equipped to accomplish.
  • Assess the student's understanding/prior learning and plan to teach to content that will be assessed. For example, if they are required to locate peer-reviewed sources, do they know what peer-reviewed sources are and where to find them? 

Writing & Structuring the Assignment

It is critical to clearly communicate the purpose of the assignment and ensure that all directions and requirements align with its learning objectives and goals. 

Assessing IL Skills

In alignment with the process-oriented approach above, we recommend using an analytic rubric for research assignments. The rubric below can be adapted as needed.

General Tips for Preparing & Supporting Students

  • Discuss the assignment in-class, explaining the purpose of it and providing opportunity for students to seek clarification.
  • Ensure your students are aware of the Library’s resources and services, particularly their Librarian and how they can seek out additional support.
  • Request Instruction Support from the Library; the Librarians are available to design learning materials, create asynchronous tutorials, and deliver in-class sessions to help your students develop their IL skills.
  • Provide direct links to tools that may be needed to complete the assignment, such as the Library’s A-Z list of e-resources or the online guide for the citation style they are required to use.

Get Support

You are strongly encouraged to share and co-develop research assignments with your Librarian.

They can help with IL-related tasks like refining research skill outcomes, developing topics, and checking that the Library has enough resources available to your students.

On a broader level, a Librarian can also provide perspective on how the individual assignment fits within the curriculum of the program.

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