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Library Teaching Services

Information Literacy Tutorials & Handouts

Checklists for Evaluating Resources

The following were created for classroom use and can be incorporated into your assignments. They may also be adapted to meet specific requirements. Please check with your librarian for more information.

Instructional Tutorials and Videos

Resources from Other Institutions

Assessment Tools

AAC&U Information Value Rubric - Examples in Action

Determine the Extent of the Information Needed*

Capstone Milestones Benchmark
4 3 2 1

Effectively define the scope of the question and key concepts. 

Sources are appropriate and directly relate to concepts or answer the research question.

Defines the scope research question completely and identifies key concepts.

Sources relate to concepts or answer the research question.

Defines the scope of the research question incompletely.  Can determine key concepts.

Sources partially relate to concepts or research question.

Has difficulty define the scope of the research question.  Has trouble defining key concepts.

Sources do not relate to concepts or the research question. 

 

Defining the question and narrowing focus is often a difficult task for students new to academic writing and/or research.  Providing a structure to the question can be beneficial.  Here are some tools that can help students to refine their topic and to develop keywords from their research question. 

Access the Needed Information*

Capstone Milestones Benchmark
4 3 2 1

Accesses information using effective, well-designed search strategies and most appropriate information sources.

Accesses information using variety of search strategies and some relevant information sources. Demonstrates ability to refine search.

Accesses information using simple search strategies, retrieves information from limited and similar sources.

Accesses information randomly, retrieves information that lacks relevance and quality.

Accessing information often involves navigating both the web and library resources. For those unfamiliar with academic literature, the default is too often Google or other search engines.  The following are ways you can encourage students to explore the literature and sources of their discipline.

  • Provide clear guidelines for type of resources you would expect to see reflected in the assignment. For example, 5 scholarly articles, 2 government documents or organizational reports, 1 web site, and at least 1 book.  It is best to keep categories broad so that students with more difficult topics are not limited to a single source type.
  • Provide a link to the library topic page or course guide that relates best to the assignment.  Suggesting specific databases or indexes off the guide is a good way to point students towards credible, relevant, and discipline appropriate sources.  A list of topic guides is available at: http://library.pfw.edu/home
  • Discuss the differences between databases and search engines, including such topics as how the information is added, who determines the content in a database, the cost associated with either, and whether there is any authority involved in the selection of items included. Here are few discussion starters:

Evaluate Information and its Sources Critically*

 

Capstone Milestones Benchmark
4 3 2 1

Thoroughly (systematically and methodically) analyzes own and others' assumptions and carefully evaluates the relevance of contexts when presenting a position.

Identifies own and others' assumptions and several relevant contexts when presenting a position. Questions some assumptions.  Identifies several relevant contexts when presenting a position. May be more aware of others' assumptions than one's own (or vice versa). Shows an emerging awareness of present assumptions (sometimes labels assertions as assumptions).  Begins to identify some contexts when presenting a position.

Determining the credibility of sources is a popular information literacy topic.  Often, holding a discussion either online or in class regarding these issues is an effective way to explore this competency.  Some of the things to consider when designing an assignment, discussion, or assessment in this area are:

  • Author or organizational credibility -
    • how is the entity that created the item biased?  Bias exists and is nearly impossible to avoid, so rather than asking if the creator is biased, ask how.
    • does the creator of the information have any credentials or other professional affiliations that lend them authority?
  • Currency of information - there is no arbitrary "safe" date for currency.  The answer to this question can vary even within the same class depending on the topics being researched.  Rather than giving a set date for sources to remain within, having a conversation related to judging currency is preferable.  Even in the sciences and medical professions, it is not uncommon to site seminal works that may be decades old.  (In one memorable case from John Hopkins, a research participant died and later investigations brought to light that studies from the 1950s, had they been consulted, could have prevented the tragedy.)
  • Audience for the information - was the information written for an academic audience, the general public, or both?  The audience for journal articles is typically the easiest to define.  Government documents, white papers from organizations and other types of "grey" literature can be relevant and useful but may be more ambiguous regarding audience.  Including "grey" literature can be a good critical thinking exercise for students.

 

Use Information Effectively to Accomplish a Specific Purpose*

 

Capstone Milestones Benchmark
4 3 2 1
Communicates, organizes and synthesizes information from sources to fully achieve a specific purpose, with clarity and depth Communicates, organizes and synthesizes information from sources.  Intended purpose is achieved. Communicates and organizes information from sources. The information is not yet synthesized, so the intended purpose is not fully achieved. Communicates information from sources. The information is fragmented and/or used inappropriately (misquoted, taken out of context, or incorrectly paraphrased, etc.), so the intended purpose is no achieved.

Purpose is a broad concept.  Often, instructors use the writing assignments to accomplish this goal.  But there are other options beyond the traditional written paper.

Access and Use Information Ethically and Legally*

 

Capstone Milestones Benchmark
4 3 2 1
Students use correctly all of the following information use strategies (use of citations and references; choice of paraphrasing, summary, or quoting; using information in ways that are true to original context; distinguishing between common knowledge and ideas requiring attribution) and demonstrate a full understanding of the ethical and legal restrictions on the use of published, confidential, and/or proprietary information. Students use correctly three of the following information use strategies (use of citations and references; choice of paraphrasing, summary, or quoting; using information in ways that are true to original context; distinguishing between common knowledge and ideas requiring attribution) and demonstrates a full understanding of the ethical and legal restrictions on the use of published, confidential, and/or proprietary information. Students use correctly two of the following information use strategies (use of citations and references; choice of paraphrasing, summary, or quoting; using information in ways that are true to original context; distinguishing between common knowledge and ideas requiring attribution) and demonstrates a full understanding of the ethical and legal restrictions on the use of published, confidential, and/or proprietary information. Students use correctly one of the following information use strategies (use of citations and references; choice of paraphrasing, summary, or quoting; using information in ways that are true to original context; distinguishing between common knowledge and ideas requiring attribution) and demonstrates a full understanding of the ethical and legal restrictions on the use of published, confidential, and/or proprietary information.

Plagiarism and copyright are two of the main areas that fall within this competency.  Often these are best addressed as conversations.  Some topic starters are:

Other resources dealing with this topic include:

Using proper citation formats is an area many students struggle with.  The following advice and resources can help.

  • Choose a standard citation format for your course and list this clearly in the syllabus and on any relevant assignments.
    • Avoid overly complicated styles that require more advanced skills. For example, AMA and ACS use abbreviated journal titles but share general characteristics with APA.  Undergraduate students may find it easier to learn APA first, and then migrate to the abbreviated styles. 
    • Provide links to the relevant Purdue Owl pages for the style you've chosen.  https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/  Purdue Owl includes resources on writing in various disciplines as well as citation information. 
  • If your students will be citing more than ten resources, a citation management tool like Endnote may be useful.  Endnote is free to all students and is available as a desktop program or a cloud-based application. The Library holds workshops each semester.  More information on reference/citation/bibliographic management tools can be found on the library Publishing Guide

* Taken from the AAC&U Information Literacy Value Rubric:
https://www.aacu.org/value/rubrics/information-literacy