What is Information Literacy?
Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning. An information literate individual is able to:
- Determine the extent of information needed
- Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
- Evaluate information and its sources critically
- Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
- Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally
College of Marin's General Educational Student Learning Outcomes
In January of 2009, the Academic Senate at COM approved a set of five broad SLOs for the college as a whole. These are as follows:
- Written, Oral and Visual Communication: Communicate effectively in writing, orally and/or visually using traditional and/or modern information resources and supporting technology.
- Scientific and Quantitative Reasoning: Locate, identify, collect, and organize data in order to then analyze, interpret or evaluate it using mathematical skills and/or the scientific method.
- Critical Thinking: Differentiate between facts, influences, opinions, and assumptions to reach reasoned and supportable conclusions.
- Problem Solving: Recognize and identify the components of a problem or issue, look at it from multiple perspectives and investigate ways to resolve it.
- Information Literacy: Formulate strategies to locate, evaluate and apply information from a variety of sources - print and/or electronic.
Shared Responsibility in Teaching Information Literacy
Incorporating information literacy across curricula, in all programs and services, and throughout the administrative life of the college, requires the collaborative efforts of instructors, librarians, and administrators. Through lectures and by leading discussions, instructors establish the context for learning. Instructors also inspire and motivate students to explore the unknown, offer guidance on how best to fulfill information needs, and monitor students’ progress. Faculty librarians coordinate the evaluation and selection of intellectual resources for programs and services; organize and maintain collections and many points of access to information; and provide instruction to students and instructors who seek information. Administrators create opportunities for collaboration and staff development among instructors, and faculty librarians. Administrators also lead in planning and budgeting for those programs, and provide ongoing resources to sustain them.
The library faculty has created a chart that elucidates the shared responsibility between instructors and librarians for successfully achieving the standards of information literacy.
The library has also created a list of Tips for Designing Library Research Assignments
A Common Rubric for Information Literacy
A rubric is an assessment tool for setting a standard of quality or performance; it provides a set of criteria for evaluating competency with regard to a given learning objective. The library faculty has created a common rubric for Information Literacy, which measures learning objectives that are aligned with COM’s goals and the ACRL’s Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. The purpose of this rubric is to help instructors integrate information literacy into their curricula by providing benchmarks that correspond to the five information literacy standards listed above. A copy of this rubric is may be found here.
COM Library Instructional Programs
Library instruction occurs in a variety of ways. The library faculty offers the following modes of instruction that are available to all students, faculty, and staff:
- Reference interview, in person or by telephone
- Individual or small group research consultations/appointments
- Class instruction in library or campus classrooms
- Asynchronous modes of instruction (email)
- Synchronous modes of instruction (chat - in development)
The librarians at COM recognize the diverse nature of our learning community and consider various learning styles when providing instruction. Instructors are encouraged to collaborate with librarians in planning active learning strategies and techniques that will best meet the needs of the students. In order to schedule an Information Literacy Instruction session for a class, instructors are asked to fill out a Request for Library Instruction.
COM Library Student Learning Outcomes
The SLOs listed below are standards by which to assess a student’s information literacy skills after receiving instruction from a faculty librarian. The expected outcomes are for students to develop the skills to find, evaluate, and utilize library resources in order to complete their research assignments and become lifelong learners. Librarians recognize that their opportunity to address these outcomes is significantly impacted by the limits of the reference interview and relatively short instructional sessions. Because of this, the ability to target all or even some of these SLOs may vary markedly from assignment to assignment, and even from student to student.
- SLO 1: The student will demonstrate an appropriate level of skill in locating sources from the library catalog and the online databases.
- SLO 2: The student will demonstrate an appropriate level skill in evaluating a source and determining its reliability, validity, authority and point of view.
- SLO 3: The student will demonstrate an appropriate level of skill in applying and/or citing a resource to a specific assignment or other information need.
Assessment of the Library Instruction Programs at COM
Assessing student learning outcomes in the traditional manner presents a challenge for library faculty. Academic guidelines for assessing SLOs are written especially for classroom instructors who teach students over a whole semester. Unfortunately, the interactions with students by library faculty are situated in classroom orientations, reference desk assistance, and other modes that are limited in scope and time. The most accurate assessment of reaching information literacy standards will be found in the final product that students present to the classroom instructor. Nevertheless, library faculty recognizes that systematic, ongoing assessment of library programs help improve instruction and guide the strategic direction of the library. The assessment of library instruction programs at College of Marin includes the following:
- Measures of evaluation based on specific student learning outcomes ( e.g. instructor questionnaire and reference desk statistics);
- Indirect measures assessing various aspects of the program (e.g. needs assessments, direct observations, anecdotal evidence, discussion with instructors, etc.);
- Regular data collection and analysis using such measures (e.g. weekly meetings of library faculty, departmental meeting with Library Director);
- Periodic revision of program based on data analysis (e.g. Program Review).
Please note that the assessment tools described below will be used by library faculty to improve student learning and create dialogue among faculty related to student learning of information literacy skills. The assessment results will not be used for faculty evaluation.
SLO Assessment: Reference Desk Interviews, Telephone, and Email Contacts
- Direct observation and verbal questions by the librarian to determine if student has absorbed the instruction.
- Notations on the redesigned statistical log may include any or all of the following information:
Assistance provided in terms of format (e.g., print sources, databases, internet, etc.).
Distance Education support (e.g., was this an email or telephone interview?).
Number of students helped with regard to a specific SLO (e.g., access, evaluation, or citation assistance).
Names of classes and instructors who are assigning research.
Requests for books and other materials not available at COM (e.g., not in catalog, available only via Marinet, etc.).
Problematic assignments that may require contacting the classroom Instructor to offer advice and assistance in making the assignment more successful for student.
Other narrative information that should be documented and discussed.
- Weekly meeting to discuss the feedback and make suggestions for improving instruction at all service points. Other participants will occasionally be invited into the discussion, to include the library director, department heads, instructors, or other relevant stakeholders.
- Periodic revision and/or enhancement of the program is conducted via the program review process.
SLO Assessment: Classroom Instruction/Library Orientations
- Direct observation and analysis by the librarian after the instructional session and, if appropriate, discussion with library colleagues.
- Follow-up request for feedback from the classroom instructor using a questionnaire. This questionnaire gathers the following information that is grounded in the library’s three student learning outcomes. The results are based on the instructor’s observation of the students over the course of the assignment.
- Follow-up request for feedback from the librarian using a questionnaire. This questionnaire gathers the following information that is grounded in the library’s three student learning outcomes. The results are based on the librarian’s limited observation of the students during the classroom instruction.
- Weekly meeting to discuss the feedback and make suggestions for improving instruction at all service points. Other participants will occasionally be invited into the discussion, to include the Library Director, department heads, instructors, or other relevant stakeholders.
- Periodic revision and/or enhancement of the program is conducted via the program review process.
- Copies of the questionnaires may be found: