Information Literacy Competencies for First-Year Students

The competencies were submitted to the Dean of Undergraduate Studies in 2007 and have been accepted for the core curriculum. 

The competencies are written to be applicable across disciplines, for a variety of assignments and over time. The practical application of these competencies will ensure that students will be able to understand the nature of information and how it is created and disseminated; recognize the utility of scholarly encyclopedias for finding background information; effectively search the Library Catalog and databases to find books and articles, recognizing the difference between popular and scholarly sources; evaluate sources, including web sites; and create bibliographies. 

There are a variety of approaches to teaching these competencies. Currently UT faculty may request any of these approaches based on their preferences and what works best for their discipline. Regardless of the method of delivery, best practices indicate that students learn best when teaching is tied to a specific research assignment and timed when students have an information need. Popular approaches include:

  1. Library instruction sessions – in the library or the classroom, sessions are taught by a librarian and include active learning
  2. Exercises/assignments and tailored research guides – created by librarians in consultation with faculty, and assigned by faculty as part of the course workload
  3. Online tutorials
  4. Train the teacher/trainer

Create and execute a research strategy (ACRL Information Literacy Standards 1 and 2) 
Students will be able to:

  • Determine the type of information they need (ex: background info, critical reviews, etc.)
  • Determine where the information would be found (ex: articles, books, web sites)
  • Choose the appropriate tool for locating the information (encyclopedia, article database, Library Catalog, Web search engine)
  • Brainstorm effective search terms
  • Combine search terms using Boolean logic

Critically evaluate information (ACRL Information Literacy Standard 3) 
Students will be able to:

  • Evaluate web sites by critically analyzing audience, authority, bias, currency and accuracy
  • Evaluate "published" information by critically analyzing audience, authority, bias and currency
  • Determine whether information is from a scholarly source (ex: journal) or popular source (ex: magazine or newspaper)
  • Explain the meaning of peer-review
Use Citations (ACRL Information Literacy Standard 5) 
Students will be able to:
  • Identify the elements of a citation (ex: journal title, volume, author, etc.)
  • Distinguish among citation types for different types of material (ex: journal article, book, newspaper)

Further information: 
ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) Information Literacy Competency Standards