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Teaching Information Literacy at Oxford

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

Research Skills

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will recognize that research is an iterative process that requires ongoing inquiries.
    • Students will identify information gaps to formulate research questions.
    • Students will revise their research questions in response to new information or understandings.
  • Students will be able to align search strategies meet their information needs.
    • Students will be able to determine an appropriate scope of investigation to meet project requirements.
    • Students will be able to identify key concepts and related terms to locate relevant sources for their projects.
    • Students will be able to retrieve books, articles, and other media to access information appropriate to their needs.

Learn more about library Student Learning Outcomes.

Example Activities

Mind Mapping


30 mins.

Students will work on a mind map of a topic related to the course content (i.e. food deserts in a sociology class) with the goal of brainstorming potential research topics and linking concepts together. Students will then pair with a partner to share their maps and get feedback. Students will then write a research question based on their concept maps and feedback from their partners.

Flawed Questions

25 mins.

By evaluating and revising flawed research questions, students will learn strategies to formulate appropriate research questions. Example questions include those that can be answered yes or no or those that are too broad (i.e. how has the internet changed our lives?) or too narrow.



20 mins.

Divide students into groups of 3-4 and assign a research question. Ask students to brainstorm keywords and search strategies for answering their question and try them out. As students encounter roadblocks (i.e. no relevant search results), encourage them to work together to adjust their strategies and keywords. Ask groups to share successful strategies with the whole class.

Research–A Bird's Eye View 1


25 mins.

Students are asked to create a representation of their research process. This can take the form of an outline, a drawing, a flowchart, etc. They are then asked to share: Did you notice any patterns in your representation? What did you notice or think about? Did you include any emotions or feelings in your representation? Any challenging areas? The instructor then talks about viewing research as an iterative process.

Hashtags & Keywords 2


30 mins.

In teams of three to four, students are asked to read a short newspaper article and “tag” it as if they were intending to share it on social media, using at least 3 terms that are included in the article and three that are not. Each team is asked to write their terms on the board, and the class looks at similarities and differences. The instructor explains how databases search metadata/indexing terms for articles. Students then consider their own topic and find six “tags” they can use to search for sources. They pass their topic and tags to a partner who finds six additional related “tags.” The instructor helps students run searches using their newly identified keywords.



1. Jarson, J. (2018). A Bird's Eye View of the Research Process: Developing Students' Attention to Research Practices, Iterations, and Inquiry. In Mattson, J. & Oberlies, M. K. (Eds.), Framing Information Literacy: Teaching Grounded in Theory, Pedagogy, and Practice (17-29). Chicago: The Association of College & Research Libraries.

2. Brady, L. & Diamond, K. (2018). Hashtags & Filter Bubbles: Guiding Students on Their Research Quest. In Mattson, J. & Oberlies, M. K. (Eds.), Framing Information Literacy: Teaching Grounded in Theory, Pedagogy, and Practice (257-266). Chicago: The Association of College & Research Libraries.