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TLC Library Workshops

Use this guide to access resources from TLC Library Workshops.

Information Literacy Defined

Information Literacy Skills empower people to think critically about information.

The Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education from the Association of College and Research Libraries defines and organizes information literacy skills for two- and four-year colleges nation-wide:


Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing

  • The reflective discovery of information
  • The understanding of how information is produced and valued
  • The use of information in creating new knowledge
  • Participating ethically in communities of learning. 

Essential Concepts (Frames):

  • Authority is Constructed and Contextual
  • Information Creation as a Process
  • Information has Value
  • Research as Inquiry
  • Scholarship as Conversation
  • Searching as Strategic Exploration 

The Frames Defined

Frame Lifelong Impact on Students Major Outcomes


Authority is Constructed and Contextual

Recognition that information resources are drawn from their creators' expertise and credibility based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used. Experts view authority with an attitude of informed skepticism and an openness to new perspectives, additional voices and changes in schools of thought.

Foundational Knowledge

Understanding and remembering information and ideas



-I responsibility to seek out authoritative information.

-I can...determine what makes an authoritative source in my discipline.

-I value...important ideas and facts in my discipline.


Information Creation as a Process

The understanding that the purpose, message, and delivery of information are intentional acts of creation. Recognizing the nature of information creation, experts look to the underlying processes of creation as well as the final product to critically evaluate the usefulness of information.


Connecting people, ideas realms of life


-I individuals create and share information in my field.

-I can...identify different types of sources.

-I value...being connected to the presentation of ideas. 


Information Has Value

The understanding that information possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. The flow of information through systems of production and dissemination is impacted by legal, sociopolitical, and economic interests. 


Developing new feelings, interests, values


-I understand...implications of intellectual property and open access in my work.

-I can...make informed choices when sharing information.

-I value...reputable sources as contributing to my academic success.


Research as Inquiry

An understanding that research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex questions whose answers develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field. 

Learning How to Learn

Becoming a better student, inquiring about a subject, self-directed learning


-I to frame useful questions in academic research.

-I can...combine findings to identify questions for future research.

-I persistence and flexibility in transferring information.


Scholarship is a Conversation

The idea of sustained discourse within a community of scholars, researchers, or professionals, with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a results of competing perspectives and interpretations. 

Human Dimension

Learning about oneself and others


-I understand...all information sources display a perspective.

-I can...identify influential works which demonstrate contributions to my field.

-I ability to critically reflect and sensitively respond to the conversation.


Searching as Strategic Exploration

The understanding that information searching is often nonlinear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a broad range of information sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding is developed. 


Skills, thinking (critical, creative, practical), managing projects


-I understand...information systems are organized.

-I can...determine when sufficient information has been gathered. 

-I value...developing skills to seek and locate information.


Specific Outcomes

Click on each category to expand a list of potential learning outcomes for each Information Literacy Frame:


Students can/will:

  • Evaluate resources using appropriate criteria
  • Recognize appropriate information resources per discipline
  • Use various research tools to locate resources in a range of formats
  • Identify different types of authority
  • Describe the biases of an information source
  • Seek authoritative information from both traditional and non-traditional information sources
  • Develop an open mind when selecting and evaluating resources
  • Develop a critical stance and awareness of their own biases
  • Identify the economic, legal, and social factors that influence the research they see and access
  • Recognize that traditional notions of granting authority might hinder diverse ideas and world views
  • Thoughtfully find published primary sources in order to include first-person perspectives in their research project
  • Evaluate an author's use of sources

Students can/will:

  • Identify steps in the information creation process
  • Articulate how information is perceived and valued differently based on its format
  • Match their information need with appropriate information sources
  • Identify the value placed on different formats of information in different contexts
  • Recognize that format does not guarantee the value of an information source
  • Examine how a resource is created as well as the final product when evaluating its usefulness
  • Articulate the purposes of various types of information as well as their distinguishing characteristics

Students can/will:

  • Credit the work of others through proper attribution and citations
  • Articulate the purpose and characteristics of copyright, fair use, open access, and public domain
  • Decide where and how to publish their own information while protecting their intellectual property rights
  • Make informed choices related to the privacy and publication of their personal information
  • Recognize that information has the power to influence individuals' understanding of an issue
  •  Recognize why some groups may be underrepresented or marginalized within systems that create and distribute information
  • Recognize disparities in access to information
  • Value the skills, time, and resources needed to produce knowledge

Students can/will:

  • Form questions based on self-identified gaps in their knowledge
  • Determine an appropriate scope of investigation
  • Synthesize information from a variety of sources
  • Use appropriate research methods based on their information need
  • Follow ethical and legal guidelines for using information
  • Define research as open-ended exploration
  • Value intellectual curiosity in developing questions
  • Value persistence, adaptability, and flexibility in their research practices
  • Maintain an open mind and a critical stance
  • Seek help when needed
  • Locate appropriate information resources per discipline

Students can/will:

  • Identify the contribution of a particular book, article, or scholarly piece makes to disciplinary knowledge
  • Summarize the changes to a particular topic over time
  • Seek out the larger context for particular piece of information
  • Contribute to the scholarly conversation through research
  • Identify barriers to entering the conversation in various venues
  • Recognize that a scholarly work may not represent the only or even the majority perspective on an issue
  • Value the work of others by respecting intellectual property and providing credit
  • Value new forms of scholarship that provide avenues for a wide variety of individuals to participate
  • View themselves as contributors to scholarship rather than just consumers
  • Examine the bibliography, footnotes, and references section of sources they find to locate additional sources of information

Students can/will:

  • Determine the scope of their information need
  • Match search tools and resources to their information need
  • Identify a broad range of information sources on a topic and how to locate them
  • Use different search strategies effectively
  • Conduct a comprehensive search of resources within their area of inquiry
  • Recognize the relevance and value of resources will vary depending on the needs and nature of their research
  • Design and refine their search language and strategies based on search results
  • Exhibit mental flexibility and creativity
  • Seek guidance from faculty, librarians and other experts

Find Lesson Plans & Activities

Find activities that can be adapted for your course.

Responding to Common Research Struggles

Discover tips and activities that address the research struggles of college students. 

Choosing a topic, creating an argument:

Students struggle to choose their own research topic and browse for ideas. They take a stance before researching and get frustrated when sources don't fit their argument. In one study, 85% of students identified "getting started" as the most challenging part of research writing.
  • Provide opportunities for students to choose their own research topics.
  • Support curiosity-driven inquiry by providing opportunities for students to browse information sources before they choose their research topic. 
  • Frame the goals of early in-class research sessions around curiosity and exploration instead of finding sources.
  • Guide students through the exploration phase of research. Not knowing is okay.
  • Introduce students to the "Browse Issues" feature in the Opposing Viewpoints database and websites like or The New York Times Prompts for Argumentative Writing.
  • Differentiate between writing a report (specific answers) and a research paper (asking questions, synthesizing information, considering multiple perspectives).  
  • Hands-On Activities: Ask the Right Questions or Developing a Research Topic

Awareness of information sources.

Students are reluctant to go beyond Google and are overwhelmed by information choices and quantities.

Turning a topic into a search.​​

Students find it difficult to find the right words when searching for information online. They don't understand that searching a database is not like searching Google. ​
  • Take time to brainstorm search terms, synonyms, and different ways of describing or saying the same thing.
  • Practice searching for articles using databases. Explore search features and limiters.  
  • Search a topic multiple times using different words on the Web and in multiple databases. Discover which words and which sources retrieve the best results. Use successful search results to find more more search terms (what words does the article use to describe the topic?).
  • Hands-on activities: Furry Crab or Topic Brainstorm or Database Searching Research Activity

Understanding research as a process.

Students aren't aware of the need to search again and again, refining their searches as they discover new questions and synthesize new information.
  • Demonstrate the phases of the research process. Emphasize that research takes time and energy.
  • Use concept mapping to show how research can take you in different directions.
  • Hands-on activities: Summarizing Controversial Perspectives

Ability to evaluate and understand information. 

Students are over-confident in their ability to evaluate information and determine whether or not a source is credible. 

Knowing where to go for help.

Students believe that they are expected to "know" already, or that they have to figure everything out on their own.
  • Provide students with information on where they can go to get research help. Let them know that librarians will help them at any stage of the research process. 


Head, A.J., & Eisenberg, M.B. (2010) Truth be told: How college students evaluate and use information in the digital age. Project Information Literacy Progress Report.

Head, A.J. (2013, December). Learning the Ropes: How freshmen conduct course research once they enter college. Project Information Literacy, Passage Studies Research Report.

Donham, J. (2014, January). College Ready - What can we learn from first-year college assignments? An examination of assignments in Iowa Colleges and Universities. School Library Research, 17. 

Library Support

You as faculty are on the front lines of developing information literate students. Think of yourself as an information literacy superhero. All the best superheroes have an amazing sidekick - this is where the library comes in. Let's team up! 

Check out the Faculty Services Menu for partnership ideas and don't be a stranger.