Library Instruction Topics

The Library's instruction sessions are based on the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy. Sessions can be requested on the following topics, customized for your course. For more information or to request a session, see our main Instruction page.

Evaluating authority

Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility. Their authority is based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used. Experts understand the need to determine the validity of information and to acknowledge biases that privilege some sources of authority over others, especially in terms of others’ worldviews, gender, sexual orientation, and cultural orientations.

Learning Outcomes

  • recognize different types of authority, such as subject expertise (e.g., scholarship), societal position (e.g., public office or title), or special experience (e.g., participating in an historic event)
  • evaluate a source using indicators of authority to determine if it meets their information need
  • use research tools to determine the credibility of sources
  • recognize that authoritative content may be packaged formally or informally and may include sources of all formats
  • question traditional notions of granting authority and recognize the value of diverse ideas and worldviews
  • assess content with a skeptical stance and with a self-awareness of their own biases and worldview

Possible instruction/workshop topics

  • Evaluating sources
  • Evaluating information in different contexts

Understanding types of information

People create and communicate information in a variety of ways. Experts recognize the types of information available to them, and understand that various information types and formats are valued and used differently in different contexts, such as academia or the workplace.

Learning Outcomes

  • recognize that different types and formats of information are available for their use
  • identify when and why particular types and formats of information are appropriate for an information need
  • choose an appropriate information type and format for a particular information need
  • distinguish between scholarly and popular sources, and select an appropriate source for the context
  • distinguish between primary and secondary sources, and select an appropriate source for the context
  • understand the research and publishing process and lifecycle
  • recognize that information may be perceived differently based on its format

Possible instruction/workshop topics

  • Scholarly vs popular sources
  • Peer-review process
  • Types of information
  • Primary sources
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Scholarly publishing
  • Where to publish
  • Research data management

Using information ethically

Information has a creator and an intended audience, and these influence the value of that information. The ideas and thoughts of others, or intellectual property, are codified and protected in various ways including through citation, copyright law and in plagiarism warnings.

Information can be powerful and can be used in ways that marginalize certain voices. It can also be leveraged by individuals or groups to effect change for either the greater good or personal gains. Since information has value many try to restrict access to it or commodify it to make a profit. Those who are granted access are seen to have information privilege while others are restricted.

Learning Outcomes

  • give credit to the original ideas of others through proper attribution and citation and learn what tools are available to assist with citations
  • understand the concept of intellectual property as a legal and social construct
  • articulate the purpose of distinguishing characteristics of copyright, fair dealing, open access, licenses, and the public domain
  • understand how and why some individuals or groups may be underrepresented or systematically marginalized within the systems that produce and disseminate information
  • make informed choices regarding online actions in full awareness of issues related to privacy and the commodification of personal information
  • understand the Open Access movement and publicly available information

Possible instruction/workshop topics

  • Citing sources
  • Academic integrity and plagiarism
  • Using sources as evidence
  • Citation management
  • Copyright
  • Open access journals
  • Predatory journals

Researching through inquiry

Research is an iterative process based on asking and answering questions. The answers in turn develop new questions or lines of inquiry. The first step in the process is conducting open-ended, background research on a topic, creating research questions, and breaking apart more complex questions into simpler ones that limit the scope of investigation. During this discovery phase researchers consider both sides to an argument, follow different paths, and try to find gaps or areas in need of re-examination.

Learning Outcomes

  • formulate open-ended research questions
  • deal with complex research by breaking complex questions into simple ones and narrowing a topic
  • identify information gaps or areas needing re-examination
  • synthesize ideas gathered from multiple sources
  • draw reasonable conclusions based on the analysis and interpretation of information
  • maintain an open-ended and a critical stance, seeking multiple perspectives while gathering information

Possible instruction/workshop topics

  • Developing a research question
  • Focusing/narrowing a topic
  • Synthesizing sources
  • Improving or developing a thesis
  • Incorporating or using sources effectively

Searching strategically

Searching for scholarly information is a non-linear, iterative process of exploration that involves searching, evaluating results, and pursuing new directions based on those results. Effective searching requires knowing what to search for, where to search, how to create and refine search strategies and use search language effectively, and manage search results.

Learning Outcomes

  • understand that searching is a non-linear process of exploration and inquiry
  • identify the types of information needed
  • understand who might produce information on a topic and where to look for it
  • understand the differences between search tools
  • select a search tool appropriate to the information need
  • develop an effective search strategy
  • use different types of searching language effectively
  • understand that searching is complex and requires multiple attempts
  • revise or refine search strategies as necessary, based on results
  • manage search results effectively

Possible instruction/workshop topics

  • Selecting an appropriate search tool and using it effectively
  • Doing background research and using reference tools
  • Finding different types of information (e.g. scholarly or primary sources; industry, company or market information, scores, government information, data and statistics, news sources, legal information)
  • Finding specific information (e.g. finding an article from a citation)
  • Creating and revising search strategies
  • Using search language effectively (keywords, subjects, Boolean)
  • Broadening or narrowing search concepts

Participating in scholarly conversations

Scholarship is a conversation that takes place between scholars in a discipline and evolves over time, with competing perspectives and no uncontested answers. Researchers, including students, try to understand the conversation that forms the context for their research. This involves seeking out multiple voices and perspectives, identifying and evaluating how each fits into the ongoing conversation.

Learning Outcomes

  • see themselves as contributors to a scholarly conversation
  • seek a variety of perspectives
  • understand where a source fits in the broader scholarly context
  • effectively apply knowledge of sources' scholarly context in formats such as annotated bibliographies and literature reviews
  • read and analyze a scholarly source
  • summarize the changes in scholarship over time on a particular topic
  • recognize key scholars and landmark studies on a topic

Possible instruction/workshop topics

  • Identifying key scholars
  • Annotated bibliographies
  • Literature reviews
  • Cited reference searching
  • How to read a scholarly article