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In October, we wrote a blog post about how we define information literacy at Project SAILS. We wanted to follow-up that post and discuss what we think it means to be information literate.

We agree with the standards and definitions Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has laid out for information literacy, which is the reason we chose to base our test items off the ACRL information literacy standards. ACRL has also developed a set of performance indicators and outcomes that tie into each of its five standards. These indicators and outcomes give a clear indication of whether a student is defined as being information literate or in need of additional information literacy instruction.

Those institutions testing their students with our cohort assessment of information literacy receive a report with results broken out by ACRL standard and by a unique grouping of eight skill sets. We created the Project SAILS skills sets by regrouping the ACRL standards, performance indicators, outcomes, and objectives. The re-grouped skill sets give institutions a clearer picture of the specific skill(s) students are struggling most with, giving faculty and academic librarians the ability to tailor IL instruction to the specific needs of their students. Our hope is that by forming these skill sets, the data you receive is more practical because you are able to easily identify and target the weakest skill areas, such as developing a research strategy, retrieving sources, evaluating sources, and so on.

To see examples of the test reporting based on ACRL standards and our skill sets, download a sample report.

Our individual assessment of information literacy uses a different measure to determine the information literacy skills of the students tested. Each report contains a list of questions asked, an overall score, and an indicator of which questions each student got right. The overall score is framed within a scale to determine the information literacy for each student. The three levels are as follows:

  • Below Proficiency Level: Lower than 70%
  • Proficiency Level: 70% - 84%
  • Mastery Level:  85% or Higher

These performance measures are provided in order to give test administrators context for the scores of their students and to indicate whether a student is information literate. The skill sets used for the cohort assessment are unavailable for the individual assessment because there are not enough data with a single student or even a single class. Want more information about what the reporting looks like? Click to see a sample report for our individual assessment of information.

Both of our information literacy test formats, individual and cohort, have been designed in order to provide you with a clear indication of the information literacy skills of your students, pinpoint the weak and strong areas, highlight growth following IL sessions with pre/post testing, and provide faculty and academic librarians with insights into the areas to focus your IL instruction around.

Register today to test your students with the Project SAILS information literacy test!

In October, we had the pleasure of attending the 2012 Annual ALAO Conference. It was great talking with fellow attendees at our booth and we enjoyed the empowering perspectives and ideas shared by the conference speakers. 

Company president Rick Wiggins at our booth for the 2012 Annual ALAO Conference
Company president Rick Wiggins at our booth for the 2012 Annual ALAO Conference

When library conference speakers bring in ideas and values from beyond the walls of librarianship, they help us see our world in new ways. At the ALAO conference, keynote speaker Lisa Hinchliffe highlighted a number of fantastic resources:

Lisa’s emphasis was how academic libraries can be indispensible to the higher education mission, as reflected in the title of her keynote, “First Be Valuable and Then Be Valued: Academic Library Impact.” This is an extension of the ACRL initiative on the value of academic libraries.  Explore this topic further with the following key resources

If you missed the conference but want to see some of what was talked about, see tweets from the conference, compiled by Meghan Frazer.  Thanks, Meghan!

Also, be sure to sign up for our monthly email newsletter full of valuable information for academic librarians, including our recent blog posts, helpful tips, and more!

A recent report from a British consulting and training group examines how researchers find published scholarly articles. Scott McLemee wrote a good description of the report in Inside Higher Education.

“One interesting point that the authors extract from the comments of participants is that many scholars remain unclear on the difference between a search engine and, say, a specialized bibliographical database.”

A 28-page summary of the report is available here (PDF, 3.7 MB)

The report provides insights for librarians who often partner with classroom faculty to teach students information literacy skills. Do we need to understand faculty information seeking behavior? What is our obligation to help faculty stay information literate?

 

 

We're seeing a spate of calls for proposals for excellent conferences. You probably have a great project to share, so consider submitting a proposal to present. If the team at Project SAILS can help, just let us know.

These are all either about information literacy, or they have information literacy as a major theme. Listed in order of proposal deadline.

ACRL 2013: Association of College and Research Libraries.
April 10 - 13, 2013
Indianapolis, Indiana
Proposals due November 9, 2012 for cyber zed shed presentations, poster sessions, roundtable discussions, and virtual conference Webcasts.

LOEX 2013: 
41st Annual LOEX Conference.
May 2 - 4, 2013
Nashville, Tennessee
Proposals for breakout sessions due November 16, 2012.
Proposals for poster sessions due January 25, 2013.
NOTE: Students currently enrolled in a graduate program in library and information sciences along with librarians in resident or intern programs are invited to propose poster sessions.

LILAC 2013:  Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference.
March 25 – 27, 2013
Manchester, England
Proposals due November 16, 2012.

WILU 2013: Workshop for Instruction in Library Use.
May 8 - 10, 2013
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Proposals due December 3, 2012.
http://lib.unb.ca/WILU/program/call-for-proposals/

European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL).
October 22 – 23, 2013
Istanbul, Turkey
Proposals due February 1, 2013.

Georgia Conference on Information Literacy.
September 20 – 21, 2013
Savannah, Georgia
Proposal deadline is March 15, 2013.

 

The development of the digital world has created one major problem – information overload. Information is accessible 24/7 from a variety of sources with varying viewpoints, authority, and credibility. Successfully navigating this complex world of information is possible but only when information literacy skills have been developed.

The Association of College and Research Libraries defines information literacy as “a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.”  We believe this definition of information literacy highlights its importance for all areas of life – including academics, work, and in one’s personal life.

Why Information Literacy is Important

Information literacy should be a fundamental principle in college education as it shares a common vision with institutions of higher learning – to develop skills for life-long learning. The Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education states that, “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.”

It is also vital to future generations as information is created more rapidly and in larger quantities than in past generations. It is much harder to “weed-out” biased, false, and misleading information as the accessibility of information-creating technology has rapidly increased.

When Information Literacy Skills Will Be Used

Information literacy is generally associated with research papers or class projects but we think information literacy has many implications beyond the classroom. Many daily tasks in the workplace involve the need to find and evaluate information in order to perform a job appropriately. Other common decisions where information literacy plays a role include tasks such as researching health issues, choosing which car to purchase, deciding what to do on your family vacation, watching an evening newscast critically, and so much more. Another major use for information literacy skills is selecting viewpoints and opinions on current news and political issues.

We strongly believe in the need to develop the information literacy skills of students across the United States, which led us to create our information literacy test for colleges and universities. We hope you consider using our assessment at your institution so that together we can develop a generation of information literate citizens.