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Information Literacy Guide for NorQuest Faculty: Tools & Resources

This guide is designed to support NorQuest faculty in the development of students' information literacy skills.

Getting Started

Students often struggle with just getting started on a research assignment. Instructors can help students by helping them determine:

  • Where their topic or research question fits within a given discipline or larger body of research.
  • What type of information is needed for a specific topic (this can vary widely from websites to peer-reviewed articles).
  • What terms such as "scholarly article" or "peer review" mean.
  • Where they can find background information on a topic within a particular discipline.


Finding Information

Identifying and locating appropriate sources can be a challenge for students. Many are not aware of the different kinds of resources available. Often they lack the disciplinary knowledge needed to make effective use of databases and other search tools. Instructors can help students by:

  • Encouraging engagement with a variety of sources on a topic while helping students understand the value of particular sources depending on the topic or given situation.
  • Directing them to general reference sources such as encyclopedias and credible websites at the beginning of the research process. Students are better equipped to find and use peer-reviewed/scholarly articles once they have some rudimentary subject knowledge and vocabulary.
  • Providing examples of scholarly sources and illustrating the characteristics of a scholarly journal and article. 
  • Ensuring they learn effective search strategies from choosing relevant keywords to refining search results in a database or library catalogue.
  • Encouraging students to consult with an instruction librarian.
  • Embedding a Research Guide in Moodle.


Evaluating Information

Students often lack the background knowledge needed to critically evaluate sources for quality, credibility, bias, and accuracy; and they struggle to determine what sources are suitable for a given assignment. Instructors can help students by:

  • Teaching them how to evaluate the usefulness of different sources and their relevance to the topic they are researching.
  • Explaining the differences between scholarly and popular sources, and what the peer-review process involves.
  • Helping them develop skills for evaluating the credibility of a source, while recognizing that authority is "constructed and contextual." For example, authoritative content can often be found in "non-scholarly" formats such as blogs, websites, and wikis. 


Using Information (Ethically)

Using information encompasses writing and documentation skills such as integrating quotations, summarizing and paraphrasing sources, and citing others' work using a given citation style. These are challenging skills that require time and practice to learn. Instructors can help students by:

  • Assigning scaffolded research assignments (i.e. annotated biblographies, research logs, etc.) rather than one single research paper.
  • Emphasizing the importance of citation while encouraging them to budget enough time for other aspects of their research paper. 
  • Providing instruction (or asking the library to provide instruction) on the citation style required.
  • Encouraging them to make use of library resources: appointments with librarians, online citation and research guides, tutorials, and workshops.
  • Encouraging them to use the Writing Centre early in their research assignment.