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Information Literacy: Teaching IL

Please Note

The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) has recently adopted the newly developed Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (2015).  The Framework seeks to address some of the limitations of the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (2000) and offers a revised and expanded definition of information literacy:

“Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.” 

The Mount A Libraries Information Literacy pages will soon be revised to reflect the transition from the ACRL Standards to the new Framework.

Stay tuned. 

Teaching Information Literacy

Teaching Information Literacy Skills

Mount Allison University librarians and faculty have been working together to ensure that Mount Allison students develop information literacy skills in all disciplines.


  • Create instructional materials in various formats: (e.g. print and web-based handouts, guides to resources, tip sheets for electronic databases, etc.) 
  • Work with faculty to incorporate information literacy principles in class assignments 
  • Work with students one-on-one, at the Reference desk and by appointment, to develop their information literacy skills 
  • Upon request by faculty, give instructional sessions to classes on the research process, major resources, and other information required to complete resource-based assignments 
  • Provide demonstrations of new information resources to faculty 
  • Conduct workshops on aspects of new information technologies for staff, faculty and students 
  • Introduce new faculty to the information resources and services available through the Mount Allison libraries 
  • Provide a basic orientation session and library research skills classes for incoming students 
  • Consult with thesis students to ensure their information needs are clarified and being met


  • Teach aspects of how information is produced and transmitted in their field
  • Model scholarly and ethical use of information in the field 
  • Inspire students to be active learners 
  • Create assignments that provide hands-on experience with the major sources of information in the field and grade these activities 
  • Provide class time for an introduction to the key information sources and research methods before setting an assignment based on them 
  • Consult with a librarian before setting a resource-based assignment to ensure the materials will be accessible and the learning process a positive one for the students 
  • Provide the subject librarian with copies of reading lists, assignments and updated course descriptions so that librarians can ensure access to appropriate materials on an ongoing basis and provide better reference and instructional service to students

Information Literacy and Active Learning

See the list of Information Literacy Teaching Activities for examples of teaching activities for specific information literacy skills. See also Ideas for Assignments to Build Research Skills (pdf file) for assignment-based instruction opportunities.

Examples of Course Assignments with an Information Literacy component:

 1. French 2601: Initiation à l'analyse littéraire -- Recherche bibliographique
After an introduction to the major bibliographic tools for finding French literary criticism, students are required to use these print and electronic resources to create a bibliography of books and articles on selected themes related to a specific literary work.
Information Literacy Outcomes: Students become familiar with using the major reference works for French literary criticism, the research process, and citing works in a bibliography.

 2. Geography 3201: Geography and Public Policy -- Stakeholder Case Study
After an introduction to the most efficient ways to access current news, government, and non-government sources, students write a brief summary of a current environmental issue, related policy, and a stakeholder analysis, which includes analyzing the issue from the stakeholder's point of view and providing an objective prognosis for the future. 
Information Literacy Outcomes: Students research current, real-life issues using available resources. Learning how to find related government policy is knowledge that is transferrable to other subjects and real-life situations. Critical thinking and awareness of bias is emphasized by the requirement to consider the issue from a specific viewpoint as well as objectively. 

3. Geography 3201: Geography and Public Policy -- Negotiating Federal Policy on an Environmental Issue
A mock negotiation of proposed legislation, based on the format used by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, requires students to prepare background information, research arguments for and against the legislation proposed, to present clearly their designated party's arguments and try to convince others of their merits. 
Information Literacy Outcomes: Same as stakeholder study, but also includes information presentation skills, and how to effectively use the information in a real-life situation.

 4. Sociology 2801: Aboriginal Peoples and Cultures of Canada -- Research Essay: Preliminary Bibliography
A preliminary bibliography is prepared as part of writing a research essay. The bibliography must contain a variety of sources: a book, an academic journal article, a full text article from an electronic index/database, an Internet web page, a source derived from the bibliography of an item in the preliminary bibliography being compiled, and five unspecified additional items. The students write critical annotations of five of the above. All sources are to be cited following a specified bibliographic style. A librarian demonstrates the reference tools required, and effective search strategies for each, at the time the assignment is given.
Information Literacy Outcomes: The students learn research skills with a wide variety of sources. Critical thinking skills are used to distinguish academic journal articles from popular literature and to write the critical annotations. Correct bibliographic citation is learned for a range of sources. 

5. Psychology 2401: Child Development -- Web Assignments:
Although titled Web Assignments, the students can use the web sites, library resources, newspapers or popular magazines to identify arguments on each side of an issue - Immunization of Children, Children in Daycare and Medication in Attention-Deficit-Disorder. Three arguments used by the "pro" group and three arguments by the "anti" group are identified and briefly described. Each argument is to be properly cited. Class discussions of these issues are then held. To start the assignment, a librarian introduces the different kinds of information resources available and provides pointers on evaluating them. 
Information Literacy Outcomes: Students use research skills to access information on the Web and from other library resources. They learn critical thinking skills such as learning how to detect bias in information sources they frequently assume are objective, how various groups present their arguments to sway others, and how to critically evaluate the messages contained in these communications. Students also learn communication skills as they succinctly summarize the arguments and cite sources.

 6. Sociology 4031: Feminist Perspectives -- Research Book Review:
After an introduction to the resources available in the field, students prepare an analytical book review of a second wave feminist text. These seminal texts were written from 15 to 50 years ago. In their review, the students include biographical information on the author, the social context at the time the book was written, the initial response to the book in the media and the legacy of the book today. Correct citation style is required.
Information Literacy Outcomes: Students learn research skills while accessing a wide variety of print and electronic resources. They use critical thinking skills as they fully investigate the "who, where, when, what and why" of their chosen text. They learn about how the knowledge generated and expressed in the literature of a field is disseminated and can influence social change.

Practical Tips for Faculty and Librarians:

"Ideas for Library/Information Assignments." QEII Library, MUN. April 25, 2003. (Checked August 22, 2005).
Created for MUN faculty, this site lists ideas for designing assignments where learning research skills, using access tools, understanding the structure of the literature in a field, critical reading, or using the web are the primary teaching objective. 


Last updated 5 May 2009

Librarians & Archivist

Librarians & Archivist Winter 2021

Anita Cannon | 364-2572
On sabbatical leave July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021

Laura Landon | 939-2125
Commerce, Economics, Environmental Studies, Government Information, Languages & Linguistics, Sociology

Anne LePage | 364-2691
Anthropology, Music, Religious Studies, Spanish Literature

Jeff Lilburn | 364-2237
Drama, English, French Literature, Philosophy, Psychology

David Mawhinney (University Archivist) | 364-2563

Elizabeth Millar | 364-2386
Canadian Studies, History, Indigenous Studies, Military & Naval Sciences, Politics & International Relations, Rare Books & Special Collections, Women's & Gender Studies

Elizabeth Stregger | 364-2610
Data and Digital Services, Science Consultations (by appointment)

Other subject areas, including Classics, Fine Arts, and Visual & Material Culture: Please e-mail

Want to know more about the Library of Congress Classification System? See the Understanding Call Numbers section of the Research Tips page.