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Information Literacy Objectives & Assessment

ILOs and Assessments for the Library, Updated Spring 2022


  • Understanding Sources
    • Popular / Scholarly
    • Primary / Secondary

ACRL Language

Research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field.

Experts see inquiry as a process that focuses on problems or questions in a discipline or between disciplines that are open or unresolved. Experts recognize the collaborative effort within a discipline to extend the knowledge in that field. Many times, this process includes points of disagreement where debate and dialogue work to deepen the conversations around knowledge. This process of inquiry extends beyond the academic world to the community at large, and the process of inquiry may focus upon personal, professional, or societal needs. The spectrum of inquiry ranges from asking simple questions that depend upon basic recapitulation of knowledge to increasingly sophisticated abilities to refine research questions, use more advanced research methods, and explore more diverse disciplinary perspectives. Novice learners acquire strategic perspectives on inquiry and a greater repertoire of investigative methods.

Knowledge Practices

Learners who are developing their information literate abilities

  • formulate questions for research based on information gaps or on reexamination of existing, possibly conflicting, information;
  • determine an appropriate scope of investigation;
  • deal with complex research by breaking complex questions into simple ones, limiting the scope of investigations;
  • use various research methods, based on need, circumstance, and type of inquiry;
  • monitor gathered information and assess for gaps or weaknesses;
  • organize information in meaningful ways;
  • synthesize ideas gathered from multiple sources;
  • draw reasonable conclusions based on the analysis and interpretation of information.


Learners who are developing their information literate abilities

  • consider research as open-ended exploration and engagement with information;
  • appreciate that a question may appear to be simple but still disruptive and important to research;
  • value intellectual curiosity in developing questions and learning new investigative methods;
  • maintain an open mind and a critical stance;
  • value persistence, adaptability, and flexibility and recognize that ambiguity can benefit the research process;
  • seek multiple perspectives during information gathering and assessment;
  • seek appropriate help when needed;
  • follow ethical and legal guidelines in gathering and using information;
  • demonstrate intellectual humility (i.e., recognize their own intellectual or experiential limitations).

Objective 1

Determine the information need


Lesson Objectives: Upon completion of information literacy instruction, students should be able to:

  1. Recognize the different characteristics of popular and scholarly sources.
  2. Recognize the different characteristics of primary and secondary sources.

1a: Popular vs. Scholarly Sources (SR Code Added)

Recognize the different characteristics of popular and scholarly sources.

  • Bring physical copies of popular magazines and scholarly journals. Have students break up into groups to discuss differences. As a class discuss the differences & point out what students missed.

Sources: Scholarly vs. Popular Author: In scholarly articles, the author's credentials are given, usually a scholar with subject expertise. In popular articles, the author may not be named; a professional writer or journalist who publishes on a wide variety of topics and lacks subject expertise. Audience: For scholarly articles, the audience is scholars, researchers, students. For popular articles, the audience is the general public. Citation: In scholarly articles, sources are cited in footnotes and/or a bibliography. In popular articles, citations are rare. Scanty, if any information about sources. Review: Scholarly articles are peer-reviewed or referred by scholars in a similar or the same field. Popular articles are not reviewed or reviewed by non-specialized editors. Publisher: Scholarly articles are usually published by an academic or scholarly press. Popular articles may have no publisher, and unknown publisher or be published by a popular press that publishes a wide range or popular sources. Format: Scholarly sources are found in books or scholarly journal articles. Popular sources can be found in magazines, websites, and newspapers.

1b: Primary vs. Secondary

Recognize the different characteristics of primary and secondary sources.

  • Short explanation two types of sources. Try to use examples students can relate to (e.g. journal, blog, autobiography/memoir, photographs vs. textbook, biography, book/movie reviews, etc.)
  • Ask students to compare a primary and secondary source on the same topic. 
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