September 3, 2010

Information Literacy

The Writing Initiative aims to increase achievement and program completion rates for PCCC students by integrating critical thinking, information literacy and technology into college-level writing intensive courses.

Broadly stated, we require WI courses to incorporate research requirements that exercise information literacy competencies in at least one of the writing assignments.

Information Literacy (IL), as defined by PCCC, consists of:
  1. Defining and articulating the need for information
  2. Information Retrieval
  3. Citation of Sources
  4. Evaluation of Sources
  5. Using information effectively in writing assignments

These competencies have been assessed in an ongoing fashion in The College Experience course via the Information Literacy Research Project, and will be assessed further in the Title V Writing Initiative.

In general, PCCC students have fared well in retrieving information and identifying citation information, but have struggled with information literacy competencies that require more critical thinking, such as formulating a thesis statement, critical evaluation of resources, and extraction of useful information from resources. In the Writing Initiative, special emphasis is placed on the latter two competencies especially.

Courses designated as WI should have an assignment or assignments that cover a minimum of three out of the five broadly defined IL competencies. Competencies 4 and 5 are required to be covered, in addition to one of the other three competencies.

The IL requirements need not be covered in one assignment; in fact, it is often beneficial to both instructor and student to break the research process down into steps.

Each student in a WI course also must create an electronic portfolio in which are archived selected assignments from the WI course. Minimally, students must include examples of any formal writing and particularly those that exhibit elements from the critical thinking rubric and the information literacy rubric.

PCCC Librarians have developed a master IL rubric that allows instructors to assess IL competencies on a four-point scale ranging from beginning, developing, competent to accomplished. In addition to the rubric, a list of performance indicators associated with each of the five major IL competencies can be used for ideas on how to incorporate the IL competencies into WI assignments. The rubrics and more information on how we are using information literacy in the Initiative is online.

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