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Information Literacy: A Definition for the UVM Campus

Information literacy is both the understanding of concepts and the acquisition of skills that support the ability to identify, access, evaluate, organize, and communicate information. UNESCO's Alexandria Proclamation on Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning highlights that information literacy, "empowers people in all walks of life to seek, evaluate, use and create information effectively to achieve their personal, social, occupational and educational goals. It is a basic human right in a digital world and promotes social inclusion." Information literacy enables individuals to participate in our globalized information society as informed citizens, understanding the social, political, economic, cultural, ethical, and aesthetic context in which information exists.

Seven core information literacy outcomes have been identified for General Education at UVM, based upon the Association of College and Research Libraries' (ACRL) Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education:

  • Understand the context in which information is produced and disseminated
  • Recognize and articulate an information need
  • Define appropriate avenues of investigation for meeting information need
  • Identify and access relevant sources of information across a variety of formats
  • Evaluate information and synthesize content for a specific purpose
  • Communicate or disseminate information to different audiences employing a variety of modes
  • Access and use information ethically and legally

ASSESSING STUDENT LEARNING THROUGH GENERAL EDUCATION OUTCOMES

General Education at UVM seeks to introduce students to subject matter and skills that link arts and sciences with professional and life skills that students will need as informed global citizens, including: Communication and Information Literacy; Quantitative Reasoning; Cultures, Diversity and Global Perspectives; Sciences, Systems and Sustainability; Art, Aesthetics, and Design; and Integration and Application of Knowledge. Thus, information literacy joins professional competencies such as written and oral communication, scientific and quantitative reasoning, and critical analysis and logical thinking as a demonstrable core outcome for all UVM graduates.

Information literacy supports a variety of complementary literacies highlighted in the general education outcomes, including: technological literacy, media literacy, data literacy, scientific literacy, and visual literacy. The intersection of these literacies builds practical connections among these different literacy types; instead of envisioning these as unrelated or disconnected, information literacy is an essential framework that informs and unifies these literacies.

BEST PRACTICES FOR INTEGRATING INFORMATION LITERACY

As a general education requirement, information literacy is most effective when integrated progressively throughout the curriculum. In order to successfully address information literacy as a general education requirement, it must be the shared responsibility of the library and other faculty, who work together to develop specific information literacy objectives within general education course contexts.

While information literacy as a general education requirement focuses on a foundational level of knowledge that applies to all students across all majors, information literacy must also be developed progressively, within specific disciplines, across a student's academic career. Developing discipline-specific information literacy guidelines and outcomes must be the shared responsibility of library and other faculty, working within the framework of the disciplines and accrediting agencies.

AN INVITATION TO COLLABORATE

As librarians, we are integrally involved in addressing the issues associated with developing information literacy programs, and are available to work with you to integrate and sequence information literacy concepts and skills into your classes and across the curriculum. We are skilled at assessing current practices and identifying opportunities to move programs forward.

To continue this conversation, please contact your library liaison.

November 2011 (revised June 2012)

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