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Information Literacy Instruction Program

Information Literacy - In Practice

Now that you have a general understanding of Information Literacy and the threshold concepts, let's explore what the looks like in PRACTICE. It is easy to tell students a definition of a concept, but in order for true learning to take place, we need to place the concepts that we teach into a context that resonates with students. So, what does the Framework look like in practice?

Information does have value as a commodity. Information can be traded, bartered, bought, sold, and negotiated. But, what does that look like to our students? In the context of their lives--academically, professionally, and personally--what can we teach them about the value of information? What about information having value can our students take with them when they complete our courses? When you are designing your course outcomes or research projects you may want to keep some of the following topics in mind.

  • Publishing Practices;
  • Ethics in Publishing;
  • Intellectual Property & Copyright;
  • Plagiarism;
  • Citation & Data Management;
  • Metaliteracy.

Aside from students understanding that information has value, one of the most fundamental steps in conducting research is the search. We all know that searching while doing research is more of an exploration and there is not a linear path to the answer. When trying to implement the "Searching as Strategic Exploration" information literacy concept, you may want to incorporate some of the following ideas into your learning outcomes or lessons: 

  • Evaluation of Information;
  • Knowledge (or topic) development and the pursuit of new information;
  • Searching is both emotional and intellectual (directed inquiry versus serendipity);
  • Pattern recognition in research; 
  • Search strategy and organization; 
  • Knowing when to stop and seeking guidance when necessary. 

Knowledge is both a process and a product and the information creation process can result in myriad information formats and delivery modes. Expert researchers understand that information creations are valued differently in different contexts, such academia, the workplace, or even pop culture. Learners who are developing their information literate abilities are still learning to recognize the significance of information creation and it is our job to support their journey and aid them in making more sophisticated when matching information products with their information needs. The "Information Creation as a Process" can be incorporated into lesson plans in many different ways, below are a few suggestions of how to support the learner in becoming more adept in the process of information creation. 

  • Recognizing knowledge in academia versus workplace versus pop culture; 
  • Creation, revision, and collaboration of information; 
  • Differences in authority; 
  • Communicating information (i.e. papers, articles, blogs, podcasts, writing, song, film etc.).

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. All information is socially constructed, in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. Authority is contextual because the information need often helps to determine the level of authority required. When introducing novice learners to the threshold concept "Authority is Constructed and Contextual" you may want to consider the following: 

  • Teaching learners to evaluate claims to authority; 
  • Information is a product of its creators orientation to culture; 
  • Authoritative arguments and judging; 
  • Critical versus fair scrutiny. 

Inquiry is a process that focuses on research questions or problems in a discipline (or between disciplines) that are still open or unresolved. Often, thorough research cannot happen without collaboration, debate, and open dialogue that function to deepen the conversations around knowledge. This often requires a fair amount of intellectual humility on the part of experts, but that is a skill honed over years of information refinement and practice. Of course, the process of inquiry extends far beyond academics and transcends into personal, professional, and societal knowledge needs. 

Information Literacy Activities

One of the best ways to help students learn information literacy and research concepts is through adding context by working through an activity. The following tabs display information literacy class activities that can be easily modified to suit any discipline, in any teaching format. Please check back often as these lessons will be periodically updated. If you have a special request that an activity be created for a specific discipline or certain information literacy threshold concept we will be happy to collaborate!  Please email with any questions, comments, or concerns. 

"Citizen Literacy is an online toolkit that promotes the development of key information skills for democratic citizenship and features short videos, handouts, and activities that faculty across all disciplines can integrate into their courses and assignments."

*Created by the University of Louisville Libraries 

Prep your students with a basic understanding of Information Literacy and have them complete the Earl K. Long Library's Information Literacy Tutorial & Quiz. The results of the quiz get emailed directly to the Information Literacy Librarian, so if you would like to know how your students are doing (or would like proof of completion) just email Brandon Adler at


This Moodle-based course contains five, self-paced lessons and five graded quizzes that progress through the stages of the library research process. There are six, non-graded H5P practice/review activities.

To see the course as our guest:

  • Go to
  • On the right side of the screen, under “Course Categories”, Select "Student Resources"
  • Select “Research 101”
  • Select "Login as a guest"
  • Enter the Guest access "Password" (all lower case): rcclibrary
  • Select "Submit"


Have your students move through the Moodle Course. Unfortunately, guest users cannot complete the quizzes. However, faculty members may create their own quizzes for each section which they can place into their own Moodle site OR the faculty member can work with the instruction librarian to create a quiz for their students. Please contact with any questions. 

Source: ACRL Information Literacy Sandbox

Donna Windish, Randolph Community College

Information Literacy Frames Addressed: Framework as a whole

The goal of this in-class activity is to help students relate database searching to something they already have familiarity with. This is interdisciplinary and could be adapted for any subject or database. Students will explore a timely topic on Twitter using a hashtag and note bias, tone, authority, and related hashtags before conducting a similar search on a library database or discovery tool. Students and instructors then discuss similarities and differences between both searches and their results. 

Source: ACRL Information Literacy Sandbox 

Bria Sinnott , Towson University, Albert S. Cook Library

Posted on December 19, 2019

Information Literacy Frames Addressed: Authority is Constructed and Contextual, Research as Inquiry, Searching as Strategic Exploration

This workshop is one of three in the Privacy Workshop Series at Penn State Berks.  Our series focuses on privacy issues for students in the past, present, and future.  Digital Shred deals with evaluating and shredding past digital behaviors, the Privacy Workshop focuses on privacy practices/concerns in the current moment, and Digital Leadership speaks to future implications of digital practices.

In the Digital Shred Workshop, students will be able to:

  1. Reflect on and describe their digital privacy priorities in order to articulate the benefits and risks of their digital dossier
  2. Apply a growth mindset to critically examine their current data exhaust // digital footprint and recognize when change is needed
  3. Develop a Personal Data Integrity Plan that makes routine the process of auditing and updating their digital dossier in alignment with their privacy values
  4. Describe “digital shred” and its importance.
Source: Information Literacy Sandbox
Alexandria Chisholm, Penn State University
Posted on November 12, 2019
Information Literacy Frames Addressed: Information Has Value

Deciding who to vote for can be hard. On top of that, finding information about local elections can sometimes be difficult, as can be figuring out if you agree with a candidate on an issue that you don’t know too much about. This activity engages students in the civic process and in research. Students will use internet searching to find information about candidates, and database searching to find information out about an issue. 

Source: ACRL Information Literacy Framework

Faith Rusk & Laura Horne-Popp, University of Central Missouri

Information Literacy Frames Addressed: Information Has Value, Research as Inquiry, Searching as Strategic Exploration

In this activity, students work in groups to craft a response to a presidential tweet from an assigned perspective (e.g. right or left leaning news source). In doing so, they are required to find, evaluate, and effectively use information to make a case. Unlike a research paper, which aspires to be neutral or unbiased, this activity asks students to respond to a tweet from a particular perspective, with a particular bias, requiring them to engage with their sources in a new way. The activity is followed by a discussion of students' interactions with the information they found and presented. 

Source: ACRL Information Literacy Sandbox

Faith Rusk, University of District of Columbia

Information Literacy Frames Addressed: Authority is Constructed and Contextual, Information Creation as a Process

This is a lesson plan that centers around a 30-minute activity that gets students thinking and talking about the primary sources they create as they go about their daily lives, in order to prepare them to understand and contextualize the primary sources they encounter in historical research. They will also learn skills that can be transferred to future archival research. This works well as part I of a two-part interaction with classes. Typically, I go to their classroom for this lesson, meeting the students in a room in which they feel comfortable. They then come to the library several weeks later for a research-intensive workshop.

Source: ACRL Information Literacy Sandbox

Claire Lobdell, Greenfield Community College

Information Literacy Frames Addressed: Information Creation as Process

This is a participatory, variable lesson frame ready for you to modify to suit your instruction needs. This lesson and it's variations focuses on encouraging students to see themselves as information creators and part of the scholarly conversation and can also variously include conversations about about the scholarly information cycle and/or authority depending on instruction constraints and configuration.

Start with StudentScholarLessonPlan.pdf below.

Source: ACRL Information Literacy Sandbox

Anaya Jones, Southern New Hampshire University

Information Literacy Frames Addressed: Authority is Constructed and Contextual, Scholarship as Conversation, Searching as Strategic Exploration

A classroom activity and lesson plan for first-year students. Your students will learn to differentiate between different categories of items -- such as Popular/Scholarly, or Primary/Secondary/Tertiary -- by playing this fun and easy game. (If teaching online, where this activity asks you to use a print item please just use a photo or description of library print item and make it clear to your students that it's a print item to differentiate from electronic items.)

Source: ACRL Information Literacy Sandbox

Peter Catlin, University of Mary Washington

Information Literacy Frames Addressed: Information Creation as Process, Searching as Strategic Exploration

The Critical Information Literacy Lesson Plan includes a lesson plan with a bibliography of assigned readings and discussion questions for students as well as presentation slides with main points from the lesson: definition of critical information literacy, evaluating information is a process, authority is constructed and contextual, how to evaluate information, and check the facts.

Source: ACRL Information Literacy Sandbox

Latia Ward, Cornell University Law Library

Information Literacy Frames Addressed: Authority is Constructed and Contextual

These .pdfs offer students examples of three different search strategies.  Students can then construct their own on the 2nd page.  These exercises can be used to assess student understanding of keywords and Boolean operators.

Source: ACRL Information Literacy Sandbox

Todd Heldt, Harold Washington College

Information Literacy Frames Addressed: Research as Inquiry, Searching as Strategic Exploration