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Information Literacy @ UNH

Framework Based Student Learning Outcomes for Information Literacy

Information Literacy Framework

In 2016, the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) approved a framework covering the critical thinking, research skills, and strategies within information literacy - The Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education. UNH librarians follow the framework to teach students the complexity of information usage and creation in the 21st Century.

The ACRL Framework consists of six frames: information has value, authority is constructed and contextual, searching as strategic exploration, information creation as process, research as inquiry and scholarship as conversation.

Below are suggestions for Framework-based student learning outcomes.

Information Has Value SLOs

"Information possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. Legal and socioeconomic interests influence information production and dissemination." - ACRL Framework.

This frame focuses on students' ability to identify the different roles information may play, such as facts to help solve a problem, or evidence to support an argument. Learners who are developing their information literate abilities respect the original ideas of others; value the skills, time, and effort needed to produce knowledge; see themselves as contributors to the information marketplace rather than only consumers of it; and are inclined to examine their own information privilege. Students also learn how to cite sources as a form of transparency that bolsters their own work. The learning outcomes below fall into this category.

Students will:

  • Identify appropriate types of information sources needed to satisfy their information need
  • Recognize issues of access or lack of access to information sources
  • Trace resources through citations in order to access and evaluate the original sources
  • Understand that intellectual property is a legal and social construct that varies by culture
  • Understand how and why some individuals or groups of individuals may be underrepresented or systematically marginalized within the systems that produce and disseminate information
  • Credit sources used in their own work, utilizing formal conventions of attribution in order to identify recognized expertise and to avoid plagiarism
  • Make informed choices regarding their online actions in full awareness of issues related to privacy and the commodification of personal information

Authority is Constructed and Contextual SLOs

"Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used. Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that the information need may help to determine the level of authority required." - ACRL Framework

This frame of information literacy focuses on students' ability to identify expertise, particularly in different situations, and bias in order to critically evaluate information based on the criteria of authority. The learning outcomes below fall into this category.

Students will:

  • Identify markers of authority recognized by disciplines, professions, and other communities of knowledge and practice
  • Identify the characteristics of a strong argument in order to determine if a source is authoritative
  • Describe explicit and/or implicit bias within a source and its impact upon authority
  • Develop a critical awareness of their own biases and world views in order to recognize how that impacts their evaluation of sources
  • Recognize the way privilege influences perception of authority (activism vs authority/expertise)
  • Select resources whose authority meets the requirement of their information needs e.g. personal, professional, academic

Searching as Strategic Exploration SLOs

"Searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a range of information sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding develops." - ACRL Framework

This frame of information literacy focuses on students' ability to recognize that the research process is fluid, often requiring the use of different search terms, search tools, and information sources to meet their information needs. Students might also learn about the personalization of search engines that can skew the information results.  The learning outcomes below fall into this category.

Students will:

  • Use search as an exploratory tool to select and refine a research topic
  • Use a research question to identify descriptive search terms in order to begin online searching
  • Access appropriate information by identifying interested parties (scholars, organizations, government sources, and industries) that produce information about a topic
  • Select resources from a search that best fit their research question/problem
  • Access resources through source citations in order to identify additional sources
  • Recognize searching is not one directional, rather that it is iterative with opportunities for adjustment during the search (i.e. broaden/narrow the search, change order of results, etc.)
  • Understand that internet search engines tailor results based on personal preferences and history in order to recognize the limitations and biases of search results

Information Creation as a Process SLOs

"Information in any format is produced to convey a message and is shared via a selected delivery method. The iterative processes of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information vary, and the resulting product reflects these differences." - ACRL Framework

This frame of information literacy focuses on students' ability to identify the intended audiences of information and know why different information formats exist. The learning outcomes below fall into this category.

Students will:

  • Identify characteristics of a variety of information source types in order to differentiate scholarly, trade and popular publications
  • Recognize that research materials exist in a variety of formats and will select resources that meet their needs regardless of medium
    • Identify the intended audience of academic books in order to use resources based on their appropriate level of understanding
    • Recognize the difference between a single author academic book and an edited academic book and the role each serves within the research process
    • Identify the intended audience of academic journal articles in order to effectively use resources written for an advanced audience
  • Recognize trade/professional publications in order to articulate their value in the workplace
  • Compare news resources to academic resources in order to understand how research results may (or may not) be simplified when written for a general audience

Research as Inquiry SLOs

"Research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field." - ACRL Framework

This frame focuses on students' ability to recognize the research process as a perpetual seeking of new knowledge to better understand the world, to solve problems, to make decisions, and to improve society. The learning outcomes below fall into this category.

Students will:

  • Recognize the processes by which new knowledge is created
  • Identify the particular inquiry/questions posed by authors in order to understand that inquiry is the engine of scholarship
  • Explore multiple sources in order to develop a meaningful research question
  • Formulate research questions based on information gaps or on reexamination of existing, possibly conflicting, information
  • Revise research questions in response to new information or understandings
  • Select research methodology(ies) based on need, circumstance, and type of inquiry
  • Demonstrate persistence, adaptability, and reflection as components of research inquiry


Scholarship as Conversation SLOs

"Communities of scholars, researchers, or professionals engage in sustained discourse with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of varied perspectives and interpretations." - ACRL Framework

This frame focuses on students' ability to know and use the mechanisms established by professionals and scholars to share new knowledge and debate the merits of the information in solving problems, making decisions or generating new questions. The learning outcomes below fall into this category.

Students will:

  • Trace the development of a scholarly idea through analyzing two or more sources to illustrate how ideas evolve over time
  • Read an original source cited by other author(s) to determine the veracity of the reference
  • Trace a citation of an existing resource forward in order to follow the chronology of the scholarly discussion
  • Use a variety of resources in order to address the various perspectives on an issue
  • Synthesize multiple sources into a literature review in order to demonstrate ability to organize the literature
  • Identify parts of an argument: premise, evidence, and conclusion in order to appreciate well developed arguments
  • Create a well-developed argument in order to fully participate in a democratic society
  • Develop understanding of unique contributions to the scholarly conversation by constructing their own original research question/problem

This section was based on a guide from University of Central Missouri, which can be found here:

Standards Based Student Learning Outcomes for Information Literacy

Although sunsetted by ACRL, the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (2000-2016) may still be useful for identifying information literacy based SLOs for courses and assignments.

The information-literate student determines the nature and extent of the information needed.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  1. Students will define and articulate their information needs.
  2. Students will identify a variety of types and formats of potential sources for information.
  3. Students will consider the costs and benefits of acquiring the needed information.
  4. Students will reevaluate the nature and extent of the information need.

The information-literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  1. Students will select the most appropriate investigative methods and tools for accessing the needed information.
  2. Students will construct and implement effectively designed search strategies.
  3. Students will retrieve information online or in person using a variety of methods.
  4. Students will refine their search strategies as necessary.
  5. Students will extract, record, and manage their retrieved information and its sources.

The information-literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  1. Students will summarize the main ideas extracted from the information gathered.
  2. Students will articulate and apply initial criteria for evaluating both the information and its sources.
  3. Students will synthesize ideas to construct new concepts.
  4. Students will compare new knowledge with prior knowledge to determine the value added, contradictions, or other unique characteristics of the information.
  5. Students will determine whether the new knowledge has an impact on the individual’s value system and take steps to reconcile differences.
  6. Students will validate understanding and interpretation of the information through discourse with other individuals, subject-area experts, and/or practitioners.
  7. Students will determine whether their initial queries should be revised or supplemented.

The information-literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  1. Students will apply new and prior information to the planning and creation of a particular product or performance.
  2. Students will revise the development process for the product or performance.
  3. Students will communicate the product or performance effectively to others.

The information-literate student understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information (copyright, open access, paywalls, embargoes, citation formats, etc.) and accesses and uses information ethically and legally.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  1. Students will understand many of the ethical, legal and socio-economic issues surrounding information and information technologies.
  2. Students will follow laws, regulations, institutional policies, and etiquette related to the access and use of information resources.
  3. Students will cite or acknowledge the use of information sources in communicating the product or performance.