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Scenes from Faculty Senate

Application For Course Approval

for General Education Program

Course Number: LIB 120
Course Title: Introduction to Information Literacy

Check the general education core area for this course: *

  • _X_ English Communication
  • ___ Fine Arts & Literature
  • Foreign Language/Cross-Cultural Competence
  • Letters
  • Natural Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • Mathematical & Quantitative Reasoning

Department(s) in which course will be taught: Library

Faculty member(s) responsible for course: Asst. Professor Mary MacDonald, Associate Professor Joanna Burkhardt, Assistant Professor Jim Kinnie

Office: Library, Public Services Dept., Reference Unit

Office Phone: Reference Unit 401.874.5904; LIB 120 Coordinator, Mary MacDonald 401.874.4635; Head of Reference, Robin Devin 401.874.2128

Will non-tenure track faculty teach this course?

_X_ Yes      ___ No

If yes, approximately what percentage of sections will be taught by non-tenure track faculty? 25%

The intergrated skills ** that this course will focus on are:

  • ___ Examine human differences
  • ___ Read complex texts
  • _X_ Speak effectively
  • ___ Use of artistic activity
  • ___ Use of qualitative data
  • ___ Use of quantitative data
  • _X_ Use of information
  • _X_ Write effectively

*Note: At least three integrated skills are required.

Course description (as would be found in catalog):

From the 2002-2003 URI Catalog:

"In-depth exploration and practice of information literacy skills designed to support college-level research and life long learning."

The purpose of this application is to assure that the proposed course meets explicit goals established for the general education program. These are:

  • The ability to think critically in order to solve problems and question the nature and sources of authority.
  • The ability to use the methods and materals characteristic of each knowledge area with an understanding of the interralationship among and the interconnectedness of the core areas.
  • A commitment to intellectual curiosity and life long learning.
  • An openness to new ideas with the social skills necessary for both teamwork and leadership.
  • The ability to think independantly and be self-directed; to make informed choices and take initiative

Part I

This part consists of six questions designed to highlight fundamental aspects of the general education program. Only answer question 5 if it is relevant to your course.

1. If not stated in your syllabus, please indicated the primary learning objective(s) of your course.

Course Goals and Objectives:

Information is a commodity readily available in overwhelming abundance. However information is only useful if the researcher has the knowledge and skills necessary to manipulate it. While exploring the information world students will learn to use effective methods and techniques of information gathering, evaluation and presentation. The knowledge gained in this course will prepare students to communicate as students and citizens, to conduct university level research and beyond that develop skills necessary for life-long learning.

Student Objectives

  • Understand the organization of information systems
  • Recognize and articulate a research problem
  • Develop appropriate and effective search strategies
  • Select and use information retrieval tools
  • Locate and retrieve information sources
  • Analyze and critically evaluate information
  • Organize and synthesize information
  • Use and apply information effectively

2. How does the proposed course meet the goals established for the general education program?

The course teaches students to understand information concepts that impact their ability to communicate effectively as student scholars and as citizens of the world. The content of the course requires the use and practice of critical thinking skills in order to solve information problems as well as to question the nature and sources of information authority. Group work exercises and assignments, such as, 'What is Information?", "Database Discovery" and "Issues of the Information Age", require students to use methods and materials that will provide an understanding of the interrelationship of information concepts across a variety of information uses and frameworks. Teaching students to understand the complex information world and their responsibility, both as students and as citizens, to use it effectively by making informed choices and to take the initiative to use information appropriately promotes intellectual curiosity and life long learning.

3.How is the course suitable for the general education area you have requested it be classified? Please refer to the criteria for the relevant division as described in Appendix A as well as to your course materials appended to this form.

This course meets the goals of "presenting knowledge that focuses specifically on an understanding of effective communication" by introducing students to the world of information through a variety of perspectives- the popular/ public, professional /industry/trade and academic/scholarly. All sections of the course teach students to understand, navigate and utilize the information world by teaching concepts of information and how to identify, find, evaluate analyze and use information effectively. This understanding greatly impacts how students communicate within the academic world, their communities and in the future as employees and employers.

4. Explain how this course provides opportunities for practice in each of the integrated skills you have listed on the coversheet.

Writing Effectively:

The major semester project of all LIB 120 course sections is the Paper Trail project. This project requires an average of five Annotated Bibliographies using a wide variety of source materials to answer a student designed research question. Materials include books, periodicals of all types, web sites as well as expert and statistical information. The bibliographies are researched, written and revised over the course of the semester with the final project due at the last class. A second annotated bibliography of "Sources Not Used" is also required. This "not used" bibliography is meant to provide an opportunity for students to recognize and illustrate the value vs. lack of value that individual information sources can have to a particular research question.

For each annotated bibliography and for several of the preparatory research assignments leading to the bibliographies, students are required to write Research Journal entries documenting their actual research process and experience for the project they are working on. A very good example of these is included in Amanda Izenstark's attached package of materials. These short reflective writing assignments give students repeated practice in developing their ideas and perspectives about the research process as it develops from idea to formal presentation.

Speaking Effectively

Over the course of the semester LIB 120 students participate in many small group or team exercises, such as "What is Information?", "Scholarly Information Cycle" and "Periodical Evaluations" and "Issues of the Information Age". These exercises ask the group to discuss an issue or concept, collect the group's findings, summarize and report back to the class with their ideas.

"Speaking effectively" is also emphasized during "Database Discovery" when teams of two students present a ten minute talk to the class on the research they have done on an assigned subject-specific periodicals database. Students spend one to two class periods in preparation for this presentation. Students use a wireless teaching station and Smart Board technology to aid in their presentation. Each item is evaluated both by the instructor and by their peers using criteria that determine the team's competency and clarity in explaining the use of the database.

In the Issues of the Information Age unit students are assigned to read articles on topics such as information overload, copyright, plagiarism, information privacy and information access. Prof. MacDonald's students read articles outside of class, hold in-class small group discussions, and then re-group to finalize their thoughts and ideas before reporting back to the class. Prof. Kinnie's reading response assignment asks students to read articles, summarize and prepare a report that will be presented to the class.

Information Technology

This course uses "information technology" in three ways. Learning to use information and information technology to support and further their academic needs is the primary goal of the course. Students research the human impact issues of information technology in their study of the Information Age. Finally, they also physically use information technology, hardware, (wireless laptops, teaching stations) and software, (Library catalogs and databases, Smart Board technology) for their n class work and presentations.

5. Will your course sometimes be taught to groups of students larger than 60?

No, the section size for this course is set at 20-25 students. The course is designed to be a resource-based active learning course.

6. If other instructors (including per course faculty or teaching assistants) teach the course, what will be done to ensure that the proposed content and skills will be maintained across sections and instructors?

There is a generic model syllabus for the course approved by the Library Public Services Department and Reference Unit which outlines what is expected of all instructors who teach a section of the course, (included in this package). The model includes the goals, objectives, major projects and recommended course content and activities that support the goals of the course.

Part II

Please provide documentation of the means by which your course attempts to reach the goals of the general education program courses described above. Please attach a syllabus (mandatory) and all relevant course materials (e.g., exams, homework and laboratory assignments, classroom exercises) that will demonstrate how your course does this. In addition, please feel free to include any explanation(s) necessary showing how the course materials are linked to both the goals of general education program and specifically to the integrated skills.

Attached please find various course materials from the following LIB120 instructors for Fall 2002: Assistant Professor Mary C. MacDonald, Associate Professor Joanna M. Burkhardt, Assistant Professor Jim Kinnie and Amanda Izenstark, ad hoc Lecturer.

LIB 120: Introduction to Information Literacy
University of Rhode Island - Fall 200x

Meeting Times:
Meeting Place:
Officce Phone:
Home Phone (optional):
Fax (optional):
Office Location:
Office Hourse (required):
Class Listserv (optional):
Class Website (optional):

Introduction (suggested - may be reworded, restructed, etc.)

We are living in the midst of the Information Age. Introduction to Information Literacy is an invitation to the study of this world of information; to gain an understanding of how information is organized; know how to gather information; analyze and evaluate its' worth; and use it effectively in research.

What is Information Literacy? (suggested&emdash;may be reworded, restructured, etc.) Information literacy is the ability to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. Information Literacy is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It forms the basis for lifelong learning." (American Library Association. Presidential Committee on Information Literacy. Final Report. Chicago: American LibraryAssociation, 1989.)

Course Goals and Objectives

Information is a commodity readily available in overwhelming abundance. However, information is only useful if the researcher has the knowledge and skills necessary to manipulate it. While exploring the information world students will learn to use effective methods and techniques of information gathering, evaluation and presentation. The knowledge gained in the course will prepare students to conduct university level research and beyond that, develop skills necessary for life-long learning.

Student Objectives

  1. Understand the organization of information systems
  2. Recognize and articulate a research problem
  3. Develop appropriate and effective search strategies
  4. Select and use information retreival tools
  5. Locate and retrieve information sources
  6. Analyze and critically evaluate information
  7. Ogranize and synthesize information
  8. Use and apply information effectively

Required Text:
List, Carla. Introduction to Information Research. 1998. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.

Other Required Materials:
Here the instructor may list supplemental readings, student ID, e-mail account, three-ring binder, enthusiastic attitude, etc. - anything that the intructor believes is necessary.

Grades for the course will be A-F. Your grade will be based on the following criteria:

(Certain criterion are required to meet URI General Education Standards and to,maintain the integrity of the course. The rest are up to the discretion of the instructor.)

Criterion     % of final grade
Writing-to-learn exercised/Reserve reading responses (Required)
In-class exercises
Homework assignments
Team Database Discovery Project (Required)
Exam 1
Exam 2
Final Project - "The Paper Trail" (Required - 30% recommended weight)
Go Find It!
Final Exam (Required)
Attendance & Participation

The following number of points out of a total of 100 will determine the corresponding letter grade:

  • A = 93 - 100
  • A- = 90 - 92
  • B+ = 87 - 89
  • B = 83 - 86
  • B- = 80 - 82
  • C+ = 77-79
  • C = 73 - 76
  • C- = 70 - 72
  • D+ = 67 - 69
  • D = 60 - 66
  • F = below 60

In the next part of the syllabus, it is a good idea to explain each grading criterion in greater detail. Below are the descriptions for required course components.

Writing-to-learn exercises / Reserve reading responses
These criteria address the URI General Education requirement of "Writing Effectively."

Writing-to-learn exercises - Writing-to-learn exercises are short. The instructor will ask the class a question, and in response each student will write a few sentences or at most a paragraph on an index card provided. These exercises are designed to help students review and retain material from the last class, to provide practice in applying ideas, to promote understanding of concepts, and to encourage active reading of assigned texts.

Reserve Reading Responses - Students will submit reading responses for selected reserve readings. Their written responses will be composed of thoughts and evaluations of the readings based on class discussions and experiences with the assignments, exercises, and readings for the course. There is no prescribed length for the written responses, but it is expected that each will reflect the student's own thoughts about the readings.

Team Database Discovery Project
This criterion address the URI General Education requirement of "Speaking Effectively."

Working in teams of 2-3, students will be assigned a specific database. The team will have class time to investigate and learn to use the database. Outside of class, each team will prepare an in-class presentation of the database. The presentation must include information about the database's content, coverage, audience, search mechanisms, and retrieval options.

Final Project- "The Paper Trail"
This criterion address the URI General Education requirements of "Writing Effectively, " "Using Qualitative Data, " and "Using Information Technology.

"The Paper Trail is an annotated portfolio, or "map", of the research process used for a research paper or project. The Paper Trail will demonstrate more than anything else mastery of the material covered in the course. The Paper Trail project should allow the instructor to follow a student's research path for a pre-selected research question. It is a map to trace all of the research - the processes that worked and those that didn't work. It is highly recommended that students use a topic from a course they are currently taking. The topic idea must be submitted to the instructor for approval.

Final exam
A final exam, administered during the time scheduled by the Registrar, is required by the University.

Class outline
In this section, topics and concepts to be covered in LIB 120 are outlined.

A detailed class outline for students should include class meeting dates, class meeting locations, topics to be covered, readings for class, assignments due, etc. (See examples of syllabi from other LIB 120 instructors.)

  • Introcution
    • What is Information?
    • Information explosion / information overload
    • Organization and characteristics of information
  • Finding Monographic Information
    • HELIN Library catalog (basic & advanced)
    • Library of Congress Classification
    • Library of Congress Subject Headings and subject searching
    • Other library classification systems
    • Bibliographic records
    • Annotated bibliographies
  • The Research Process
    • Developing a topic (mind mapping and other techniques, formulating an effective research question, using general and subject encyclopedias)
    • Developing a search strategy (developing a research plan, identifying related academic disciplines)
  • Evaluating Search Results
    • Judging the quality of information
    • Interpretation and evaluation criteria
    • Introduction to periodical information
    • Information cycle / publication cycle
    • Taxonomy of periodicals (popular, trade, scholarly)
    • Finding periodicals in HELIN Library Catalog
  • Finding Periodical Information
    • Indexes & indexing
    • Print indexes / electronic databases
    • Access points
    • Boolean logic / creating effective search statements
    • Evaluating and the results of a search and refocusing
    • Team Database Discovery Project
  • The Internet
    • Brief history of the Internet
    • Unique characteristics of information on the Internet
    • Search engines and directories
    • Evaluating Internet information



Sheila Black Grubman

Faculty Outstanding Award

2015 Notice and Criteria



University Libraries LibGuides