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Teaching Information Literacy at Oxford

A guide for faculty on information literacy instruction offered by Oxford library.

Engaging With Scholarship

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will be able to demonstrate that research and knowledge creation involve listening to, acknowledging, and responding to others’ related ideas.
    • Students will use a variety of resources in order to find and respond to the various perspectives on an issue.
    • Students will be able to describe the role of the peer-review process.
    • Students will be able to trace citations representing the scholarly conversation on a topic.
  • Students will be able to connect the processes involved in information creation to their information needs.

    • Students will be able to distinguish between primary and secondary sources to select appropriate sources for their research.
    • Students will be able to identify common characteristics of a variety of information source types to differentiate scholarly, trade, and popular publications.
    • Students will recognize that scholarly research materials exist in a variety of formats and will select resources that meet their needs regardless of medium.

Learn more about library Student Learning Outcomes.

Example Activities

Information Roles

15 mins.

Groups will each get an item or citation for an item – possibilities include a newspaper, an academic article, a book, a magazine article, a webpage or a blog. They will try to understand the “role” of each source in the research process by defining its format closely.

Primary and Secondary in the Sciences

35 mins.

Teach students how a scientific scholarly article is constructed, based on explaining different parts of its anatomy: abstract, introduction, thesis/research questions, conclusion, and references. Students will investigate a series of scientific articles relevant to the course and will use their anatomy to determine whether they are primary or secondary.


35 mins.

Students can be given three articles on a research topic or they can bring in their own. Students will work to summarize the articles and pull the information from each into a cohesive picture of the conversation on the topic. Invite the students to consider how different perspectives and approaches to a topic lead to a more comprehensive understanding of it.

Many Voices

30 mins.

In groups of 2-3, students will find articles from a database on a course topic (each student finds a different article). Each student will write a one sentence summary of their article and write it on a notecard. Ask the students to place their notecards in the center of the room - discuss and summarize the topic based on what the students found. As a class, discuss: Do the students think there is anything missing from the discussion? What steps would they take if they wanted to research the topic (and contribute to the conversation)?

Citation Pearl Growing

25 mins.

Begin with an article on a topic relevant to the course. Ask students how they would find more articles like it - discuss controlled subject headings, keywords, and looking for cited articles. Break students into groups and ask them to find two or three relevant articles using these techniques. As a class, discuss what worked well and what students found challenging.

Information Life Cycle

25 mins.

In teams of two to three, students are asked to think about and find various types of information released the day of an event (e.g. Tweet, news story), a day to a week after (e.g. opinion piece, in-depth online article), months after (e.g. television documentary), and years after an event occurred (e.g. scholarly article). Each group then shares what they found, and as a class they are asked: Where does this fit into the information life cycle? Why is it useful? Why is it important to know about the information life cycle for your research?