Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Information Literacy

The American Library Association's (ALA) Presidential Committee on Information Literacy, Final Report (1989) states, "To be information literate, a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information"

Please respond to both of the questions below:

1. As a graduate student what part(s) of the research process that includes obtaining information online are you successful or challenged by in conducting your own research for assignments: (a) recognizing when information is needed, (b) the ability to locate information, (c) evaluating information and/or (d) effectively using the information?

3. In your opinion (and previous experience) which one is most difficult for students (and WHY?): (a) recognizing when information is needed, (b) the ability to locate information, (c) evaluating information or (d) effectively using the information.


  1. This is my first semester as a graduate student at USD so my experience pertaining to this particular question is somewhat limited. In regards to locating information, I find that sometimes the seemingly endless amount of information available at our finger tips can be overwhelming but I would take this conundrum over the Dewy decimal system any day. Locating the information then, is not so much an issue as recognizing when information is needed and then effectively using it. I feel that in a world of Wikipedia and cut and paste culture, the lines of “cite” (i.e. when to cite and what to cite) can become blurry. The internet also places new issues with evaluating information. Whereas previous scholastic generations had to laboriously scour the library to find information, at least once the information was found they could trust it came from a legitimate source. The authenticity and legitimacy of online sources must always be questioned.

    In relation to my own personal experience then my opinion of tasks in terms of their difficulty for students are as follows, from least to most difficult:
    1. The ability to locate information-again the internet has rendered virtually (pun intended) every resource available in our living rooms (or on the beach, or at the bar, or even in the bathroom for that matter!).
    2. Effectively using information-I trust that us industrious grads did not get ourselves here without mastering this skill.
    3. Evaluating the information-credit to our undergrad labors again here.
    4. Recognizing when information is needed-at what point does our opinion suffice and when and where is scholarly research required to support whatever it is that we are trying to say? Herein lies the prickly and pertinent dilemma to today’s grad student.

  2. Like Christina, these are also my first courses at USD and beginning my graduate student life. I feel the nervousness associated with attending classes again affects my confidence, and therefore ability to trust myself and my brain of knowing WHEN or how to look up information. I find that with each week, I am getting my student "sea legs" back and it feels more normal.
    The biggest challenge for me is similiar to Christina's- finding relevant articles in a mass amount of collections. Just because they fit my googled terms doesn't mean they suit my needs, interests, or are recent, or even written by a credible source. My successes are that I feel I can weed through them and find the hidden gold. This is in part due to the fact that I grew up doing this and am part of a strong computer era. Along the lines of my nervousness mentioned earlier, is the fact that I want my information to be impressive, not something that was easily found by every other student in class- so that sometimes makes me spend more time online.
    Question 2: I think the most difficult experience for students now (and when I was a student) is deciding WHEN they need to find information. So much in schools feels like busy work and there are many teachers who perfectly lay out when to look things up for a specific project. The independence level isn't there for students to take it upon themselves to decide where and how to find things. If a project was given less parameters- they would have to discover on their own when they needed to probe the net for valuable research. I didn't see that until college.

  3. #1-This is also my first semester at USD, so I don't have much experience yet researching as a graduate student. However, as I think back to high school and undergrad I would have to say that the most difficult part of research is recognizing when information is needed. I remember in high school, I dreaded research projects because I was always so afraid I was going to cite something incorrectly and be accused of plagiarizing. Also, I remember being told different ways of citing sources which always confused me. During undergrad I became a little more comfortable with research papers however, there is still a fear when using the internet due to unreliable websites. I would say that the easiest part of research for me is locating the info and using it effectively.
    #2:For students I would say that how and when to use the information. I think it takes practice and time to research information. Especially since citing can be confusing, students may want to do less of it and not put the extra effort in therefore not using the info as best as they could. I also agree with Cassie that the students have too much teacher guidance and therefore the students don't research independently, they wait till they HAVE to do a research paper.

  4. 1. Having a year of classes towards the credential and Masters under my belt, I feel I can confidently say that the most difficult part of research for me is being able to locate the information I need. Having completed a handful of research projects as a graduate student, it seems I spend the most time reading through articles and trying to find those articles that will be helpful in the rest of my research process. Like some of the students in the video commented, sometimes I feel like if I just figure out what words the researchers are using to refer to what I want to research, I will be able to find the articles I am looking for. This part then becomes a kind of game where I try and think of as many different key words or terms to refer to my research subject as possible.
    Once I have found the articles and information I will be using a research project, I feel secure in my ability to effectively use that information. However, I feel I am sometimes more apt to look for and use an abundance of articles that support my topic, and not cover those that refute it as thoroughly.
    2. In my opinion, I feel that the ability to find useful and reliable information regarding one’s topic is the most difficult for other students as well. This could be simply because this is what I struggle with and so I am biased towards thinking this. Although knowing when to use information can be difficult, I think the actual act of then going and finding it is more daunting. Particularly because students may not be familiar with academic language that pertains to what they are looking for or because the abundance of articles that pop up if they type something in that is too broad. I feel that once this step is accomplished and the students have the information, it is easier to then follow through with the rest of the steps.

  5. #1 As a graduate student, I find that I am successful in recognizing when information is needed and my ability to locate information. I am pretty confident in my skills to use the library and the various academic databases for research. However, I sometimes feel challenged in evaluating the quality of the information that I find and how to use it effectively for the purpose of my research paper or assignment. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by the amount of research I need to read and evaluate that I lose sight of the quality of the information and where I could use it in my research paper.

    #2 In my opinion and based on my personal experience, I feel that students have the most difficulty locating research on the internet, in the library, and in the academic databases and evaluating the information that they do find. As a graduate assistant in the library, I see students come in all the time who need help navigating the library and using the academic databases using specific key words for their research. Also, I think students struggle with evaluating information they find on the Internet because of the sheer number of academic and non-academic websites that provide information on all kinds of subjects that make it difficult for students to determine which sites are legitimate and which sites are not. As a result, I think it's important for students to ask for help when they need it and teachers should do a lesson/mini-lesson on evaluating the quality and legitimacy of information, especially information found on the Internet.

  6. On a personal note, I am at the point in my career at USD where I am staring my Action Research project in the face; this semester I am planning and next semester I am actually doing it. I have already begun to worry about knowing what I need and how to find it. My biggest question right now is, how do I know what is out there so I know exactly what I want to find? We can access a world of information at our fingertips, it is very overwhelming, but HOW do we access it? I know there is information out there for me; I just am unsure of how to find it.

    As a graduate student, I feel my biggest struggle is the process of finding the right information. Throughout my high school and undergraduate studies, I was guided to know when information was needed, how to evaluate it, and how to know what was relevant; however, the actually process was never taught. We were told to use the internet, but not taught how to use it effectively. We were told to go to the library, but not how to use the library resources effectively. Why is it simply assumed that students can do this on their own without instruction or guidance?

    I feel the hardest part of information literacy for students is both the process and the evaluation. The funniest thing I hear high school teachers saying now is, “There is so much information out there; you should have no problem with this assignment.” The first part of this statement is true, but do we show the students HOW to access that information and navigate their way through everything that is out there? Today’s students are experts in technology; they spend a majority of their time on the computer, on the internet, playing video games, creating podcasts and videos, and chatting on social networks. However, those skills are part of a different type of intelligence; just as “research” and information literacy are a different type of intelligence. We must teach our students how to use this new type of intelligence, rather than assume they know how because they are so familiar with technology. Another struggle students may find is being unaware of the academic and accredited sites useful to the information they seek. Students may be unaware of biases and faulty information sites can contain; therefore, we need to help students to recognize the sites that are unbiased and approved by the academic community so they can learn to use information effectively. I know many students rely on Google to help them find information, but simply learning how to use Google effectively is a skill our students need. Very often students have difficultly separating the useful information from the unuseful information received through their Google search.

  7. 1. As a graduate student I find that the most challenging part about conducting research is evaluating information and using it correctly. When I write research papers I find that I do have the adequate information, but I’ve always felt that I don’t analyze it as well as I should and that I don’t use it as well as I could to prove the point that I’m trying to make. During my undergrad years I found myself using quotes to try to back up my ideas, but their use wasn’t the most appropriate. Because I have realized that I do this I try to really focus on the information I’ve found, read and re-read so that I can use the information for all its worth.

    2. I believe that students usually have the most difficulty in evaluating the information. Students may be quick to find information, especially on the internet, but the sources are usually not evaluated and may or may not be trustworthy. Once students have information that is reliable and that they can use they may not always use it for all its worth. This could be for several reasons, because of procrastination, they just need to get it done and don’t take the time to analyze it. Another reason could be that students don’t know how to take the information apart and analyze it, analyzing is a developed skill and if students don’t have it, its very hard to evaluate information.

  8. In my experiences recently in my undergraduate work I feel that I've been successful at knowing when information is needed, as well as being able to find information via various methods such as databases, libraries, and internet resources. Both of these things have come pretty natural to me throughout undergrad and continuing in my graduate work. However, although I have improved in my ability to evaluate material, it is still an area that I need improvement in. Often times I will struggle to evaluate an article and find the connection needed between its context and the context of the research that I'm doing. Often, I do not feel that I seamlessly integrate the information or research into my own research paper or project. I've come to realize that finding good, quality information is only a fraction of the battle. Using that information in an effective way is a task I have yet to master.

    This past year I taught Kindergarten and in my Writer's Workshop curriculum there was a unit on Informational Reports. Initially I was so overwhelmed and wondered "How the heck am I supposed to teach KINDERGARTENERS how to write Informational Reports". The result, however, was amazing. I brought in tons of books on animals and the students really sunk their teeth into the books and pictures and started pulling out great pieces of information. (One of my favorites, "Elephants have wrinkled skin".) When the kids were provided with quality resources, they were excited to become "investigators" and "experts" (as I called them) in their field. As children become older, though, I do feel that they struggle with the task of evaluation and effective use of information. In general, kids think that they found what they needed to find, so if they just pull a few quotes out of it, they're good to go. I don't think kids (and adults) are taught how to actually read through an article, analyze it, and then integrate that information into their own body of knowledge.

  9. #1 This is my first semester as a graduate student and my first semester in America, too. I haven't begin my formal researches yet but I have already done a lot of "informal researches" on assignments in order to get better understanding. So far, I am successful in recognizing when information is needed. Whenever I met a term or person or theory that I did't know, I google it first. Usually I could find enough information from Wikipedia as my background information. But those pieces of information are not authentic enough to be cited in a formal research. When it is time to do the formal research, I would probably have some difficulties in locating the authentic information because right now I have no idea where to find them in America. So I think teaching students where to find the authentic information through the internet is very necessary. When the right information are found, it would be much easier to evaluate and use them.
    #2 According to my undergraduate experience in China, students also are most challenged in the process to locate the right information on line. Almost nobody knew where to find the authentic information untill our professor gave us a lesson on how to write a dissertation and told us there was a website called CNKI where lots of papers pubblished could be found. Then all students found their citations from that website.
    All students use the internet but few know what knowledge the internet could provide. Students need instructions on how to find authentic information on line.

  10. As it is my first semester as a graduate student, I have yet to attempt research at this level. I do, however, remember the challenges of doing research in high school and as an undergrad. For me, it was always posing the question that was most challenging. Once I had a thesis in place, finding, evaluating and organizing information was not difficult. I suppose then, that the toughest part for me is to know when information is needed. With such a breadth and depth of research and information already out there, it is the act of coming up with thought-provoking questions that I struggle with. I believe that as I go on in my graduate studies, I will be drawn to particular topics and have issues I want researched and resolved, that the questions and need for information will become clear to me.

    I think that evaluating information can be extremely difficult for students at all levels of education. With the amount of information that is available online, it is very difficult to determine the credibility of a source. As a newer entrant to the world of academia, I would not necessarily know a famous theorist from a high school senior. There are of course indicators as to the reliability of a source, but it is hard to know how legitimate it is. Trusting that information is factual and not partisan is another challenge. Even information from a very esteemed location can carry with it an agenda that is hard to discern.

  11. 1. As a second semester graduate student, I feel comfortable saying that I at least know when information is needed. Any research assignment I’m given I know immediately I’ll have to do some groundwork. My biggest issue, as it seems to be with most other people here, is locating the appropriate information and then evaluating it. Yes yes, we’ve heard time and time again how much information there is out there, whether online or in libraries. However, I can’t even count the number of times I’ve gone into a library and not been able to find what I was looking for. Half the time I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for yet. The mass amounts of information that come up online can be frustrating to weed through as well. Headlines sound appropriate until your halfway through and realize nothing there will help you. Once I’ve gone through the tedious process of pulling out relevant information, I know that I can effectively use it in a paper. So as far as today goes, I have the beginning and the end down, it’s that middle area where my ability is lacking.

    2. My experience in this with students is very limited. In teaching the younger elementary grades, there really aren’t any research assignments given. At this young age, I think the hardest part for them is realizing they need to find more information. Many students are just naturally curious, but the trend I see is that students will maybe talk about what they do know, and leave it at that. Of course you can only expect so much at the 2nd grade level. It’s definitely easier to get and elementary student excited about the possibilities of research and all the information they can find about what they enjoy as well as things for school. I believe that in the later elementary grades and on into middle/high school is where the trouble with evaluation and using information successfully happens. Students become less motivated and therefore go for what’s quickest and readily available. Little attention is paid to how accurate information is; if its online it must be true, or at least believable…

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  13. 1. For research assignments, I am pretty successful at determining when information is needed and at locating said information. a) As an undergraduate, I had one professor for three courses who drilled into me a particular way of structuring research essays, which included explicitly luring and guiding readers into your thinking via 1-2 page introduction "paragraphs". This professor showed me the importance of two types of information, in particular, that students (like myself) too often leave on the chopping block: the premises you as an author/thinker are implicitly drawing on and explanations of your argument's value. b) I have successfully utilized a variety of online databases, namely USD Library's online search tool, EBSCO and ERIC as well as "google books" and "google scholar". Often, I have used Wikipedia or such to gain background information and/or vocabulary that is necessary when using the Boolean search function. c) I have experienced difficulty in evaluating the information I encounter. Perhaps because the internet permits and practically encourages information overload, I often come across two articles (from one time period, about the same subject) that are both peer-reviewed but provide conflicting data and/or offer radically different arguments. d) I recognize that I also have difficulty effectively using information. My instinct is to provide a lot of evidence and analyze such to death. This, however, sometimes overwhelms the reader and undermines the clarity and, thus, strength of my argument.

    2. My experience with young students is limited. Having worked with every age of elementary student, however, I have discovered two things. First, there is no generic or cookie-cutter student --- every child is an individual and you must engage their individuality (as reflected in curricular planning, lesson implementation, and assessments) to best promote learning. I don't know that students, in general, find one or another part of the research process most difficult. That being said, I think the cognitive development of elementary school children is such that most have difficulty with activities that require meta-cognitive thinking. This is then my second discovery: children are often not proficient at thinking about their thinking. Therefore, parts a, b, and c of the research process may be particularly challenging for these young students.

  14. As a graduate student I find the most challenging part of the research process is to locate information. When I first start researching and looking for information I usually face an information overload because there are so many articles and/or information which I come up with. It is hard for me to narrow it down to what I need. I’m bad at this and usually spend time reading a lot of articles which I didn’t need to. I think “maybe this article will have some helpful information in it” or “if I don’t read it I might miss some important information.” Once I find the information I am successful in using it in my research. I know when and where to put information to logically support my claims.

    In my opinion and previous experience I think it is most difficult for students to locate information. If students are using the internet to do research choosing a web site with the information they need is a challenge for them. Since there are so many websites out there they have a hard time choosing which sites would be helpful to them. Once they choose which site they want to go to they have a hard time finding the information they need on the web page. Some students feel overwhelmed and intimidated by the amount of text on the page and don’t know where to start. Other students don’t know some basic techniques such as title headings and key words. Since a lot of schools have cut library time students aren’t getting the experience of locating information in books at the library and this can make it difficult for them when they are required to.

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  16. 1. As a graduate student, I felt most challenging part in doing research is locating information that I got on the Internet. The reasons may be varied, such as my English proficiency, the complexity of the information, etc. Thus, I sometimes will locate the information at the wrong place or apply to a wrong theory. In fact, locating information is really hard for me to be successful because my English proficiency. When I do my research process, all the information I need is academic reading. Sometimes, I understand the content but do not know where should this information be located in my research. On the other hand, the successful part of research process is evaluating the information. By being successful in this part, I think I can easily recognize whether or not this information is useful.

    2. From my previous experiences, I think the most difficult part of research process is locating the information. The reason is that locating the information at the right section in your research should be effective when you have many information that you can use in your research paper. I remember that I had a research paper in my Second language acquisition class and the topic I chose was Imperialism and SLA theory. At that time, I had many references for me to develop my research paper. I cannot, however, exactly locate my references at the right section that I would like to use. That was really sad because I had information at hand but cannot apply to my research correctly. Thus, locating information is the most difficult part of research process, I think.

  17. #1.Based on my previous experience of my last semester, I feel it is quite challenging for the first and third process. For recognizing when information is needed, I always feel it is hard to have a focused topic or theme to research. I feel like as if I have many ideas, but I would feel I have no idea when I want to come up with a specific one. Moreover, I feel it is quite hard to evaluate information because there are many and diverse information on the Internet. Since English is my second language, I have to spend a lot of time on reading and I still feel dazzled very often. But once I get the idea of the material, I can be successful to classify the information I get and effectively use them in my research.
    #2.I don’t have much experience working with students who have to do research. I think the most difficult process differs from one individual to another. Nevertheless, I feel all students will be challenged by the first process. It is because students are familiar with their process of getting knowledge after all the years of education, but they may be unfamiliar with the process of output their knowledge by doing research. To successfully recognize when information is needed, the students need to integrate the knowledge they process, whole or fragment, and to find a best perspective to narrow down among all the general ideas they have. Additionally, for the students who are doing research for the first time, they may especially find it hard on how to locate information. Where are the websites that can provide useful information? How to access to them? How to effectively use key words to search needed information? These are all the questions the students may have.

  18. I am in my second year of graduate school. Fortunately my graduate school experience at SOLES has included a lot of research based projects. I feel that the more practice I have in constructing research based projects the more comfortable I get creating them. Up until now I did not know that what I was doing was building my information literacy skills. Dr. Michael Campbell, SOLES faculty, introduced me to the importance of a sound literature review. Since then, I have begun all of my research based projects with a concept. I then share that concept with the Copley librarian, Michael Epstein. One thing leads to another, kind of like how Eisenberg explains it (non-linear). Sometimes my research is all over the place. I know what I want to say but I need research to support my concept. My interpretation of information eventually finds a unique pattern and completes itself like a successful puzzle. I think my skills of recognizing, accessing, evaluating, and incorporating information only get better with constructive time and practice.
    From personal experience, locating and using information in the most effective way has been my challenge. Learning to use Copley's databases and constant contact with a reference librarian has helped me a ton! I obviously did not know what I was doing, so the obvious thing for me to do was to ask questions. Silly or not. I needed the right answers to accomplish my research tasks successfully. Accessing websites, articles, books, "works cited", etc. only came to me by me being passive-aggressive towards my work and findings. I found that researching something I had a passion for made my experience fun. Research should be fun! Thank you.

  19. On my personal experience, I believe the most challenging part about conducting research is being able to locate, evaluate, and incorporate the information I need correctly. Finding desired material takes twice the amount of time it takes to evaluate and incorporate it in my researches. This due to the fact that I still effected by the way that I used to in writing Arabic researches. In regarding of choosing reliable information I am so picky, but I have to change that because my reading in English not as fast as reading in my language.

    In my opinion, I think the most difficult part for students, in regarding to research process, is the ability to recognize when the information is needed, and the ability to evaluate this information. Also, choosing from overwhelming amount of resources and decide what is quality, is a huge problem for students. In order to address these difficulties students need to gain essential information knowledge and skills. As I saw in the video, many students indicate that the internet is their major resource, which means more responsibility that added to teachers to explain and reduce the alternative choices to help students focusing in the information they need.

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  21. I think that the most challenging part of research is finding a research topic and locating information that supports it. I have always had difficulty narrowing down what to research than finding relevant information.

    The next difficult step is deciding what is useful information and what isn't. After the dilemma of discovery, I always end up with more information than necessary and I have to decide what I need and what I don't. That can be a difficult process because I think all the information that I hold on to is needed. And, because I have to fit my information into specific guidelines for research.

    I think these struggles are the same for all students. Especially finding a topic and narrowing down need information. I think that this is an important skill that needs be taught. Otherwise, many teachers will end up receiving research papers/projects full of information but not relevant or needed information.