Projects and Activities that Have Been Funded by the

ACM Information Literacy Grant

Goal: To increase awareness on campus regarding information literacy/fluency efforts and to work toward a collaborative effort with faculty to integrate core competencies into the curriculum.

Academic Integrity – Technological Change and Intellectual Property Symposium

Three college symposium - Carleton, Macalester, St. Olaf – April 5, 2002

Guest speakers

"Academic Integrity" in the Context of New Technologies - David Booth , Director of the Center for Integrative Studies, Associate Professor of Religion, St. Olaf College

Student Learning and Academic Integrity in the Digital Environment - Patricia Iannuzzi , Associate University Librarian and Director of Doe/Moffit Libraries, University of California , Berkeley .

Workshop on Information Literacy for Reference Librarians on Saturday, April 6, 2002 featuring Patricia Iannuzzi (more information)

ACRL Information Literacy Immersion Program

Funded two librarians to attend the weeklong immersion program in Summer 2002.

Information Fluency Lab Pilot

Fall 2002, Foundations in Media Studies, first year seminar. Professor Clay Steinman worked with librarians Jean Beccone and Terri Fishel to develop a one-credit lab which met weekly for 15 weeks. We had 10 goals with expected outcomes that related to information fluency. The lab also included an increased emphasis on writing for first years. This pilot lab led to the current project, Entering the Community of Inquiry . [See handout for course goals.]

Reference Interns – Fall 2001, Spring 2002, Fall 2002, Spring 2003, Fall 2003. The grant funded the hiring of one reference intern to work during the Fall and Spring semesters to allow release time for reference librarians to plan and participate in information fluency pilot lab.

Information Fluency Discussions – Fall 2002 through Summer 2003. We expanded conversations begun within a limited Information Literacy Task Force with an Information Services forum in October 2002 and invited all interested CIT, Media Services, and Library staff to discuss information fluency in the Macalester community. We continued to meet on a regular basis. During the Spring semester and summer we held an ongoing series of discussions and developed a draft of a definition, a list of competencies by level of student, and developed the collaborative approach to the Fall 2003 information fluency labs. [see handouts]

ACM Information Literacy Immersion Program , Coe College – Summer 2003 – funded participation for 2 librarians and 1 faculty

Entering the Community of Inquiry – Writing and Information Fluency

Jointly sponsored summer workshop with Center for Scholarship and Teaching and & MAX ( Macalester Center for Excellence) for faculty teaching first year seminars. Introduced faculty to concepts of information fluency and techniques for better integration of writing into their courses. Developed syllabus and lab outline for Information Fluency Labs (2 first year seminars) – continuation of pilot from 2002.

Information fluency integrated into first year seminars

Objective: To develop a program focusing on information literacy objectives that would provide a firm foundation for first year students in areas of research and writing that could be built upon in successive courses, culminating in the Capstone course or Honors project.

  • Goal: Develop a one credit lab connected to the first year seminars that over the period of 15 weeks would provide time to address:
  • topics in research and writing
  • computer literacy for the campus network
  • ethical use of information
  • communication skills for writing and oral communication
  • time management skills
  • tools for organizing information including LESTER (campus portal) and RefWorks

Collaborative: Designed to be customizable for individual courses working with the faculty regarding their readings and research assignments. Also involved information technologists (AIAs [Academic Information Associates]), staff from CIT, as well as librarians.

Modules: Working with a set of specific goals developed for the first pilot lab, we developed 14 modules and assigned different individuals to develop the lab for that goal. Workload has been distributed.

Expected Outcomes for Students:

  1. Use networked resources to create and manage information.
  2. Effectively use library resources and services available in online library catalog.
  3. Formulate a research strategy; understand the process through which questions are refined and developed.
  4. Understand the process used to determine which resources/databases are appropriate to answer specific research    needs.
  5. Understand plagiarism, copyright infringement, and other related intellectual property issues.
  6. Document resources and compile a bibliography according to a specific style manual.
  7. Understand the different between primary and secondary resources, and that they vary by discipline.
  8. Critically evaluate information usefulness, bias, currency and authority.
  9. Become aware of the changing nature of information.
  10. Understand the importance of becoming lifelong learners.

Unexpected Outcomes from first lab included for the next phase:

Presentation techniques

Classroom conversation techniques


Assessment – Pre, mid, and post course surveys were administered during the 2002 Lab


  • To determine the competency levels of the incoming students measured in terms of the stated goals for the lab;
  • To determine progress of student learning against the stated goals at mid course and at the completion of the course;
  • To inform the development of further labs.

Selected Results of the Surveys:

  • Network knowledge - 10 of 16 students had used the campus supported email system. 10 of the students used and 5 customized LESTER (the campus portal) for information management. 10 of the students ranked LESTER as one of the most useful topics of the course.
  • Library resources -15 of 16 students had used the library catalog (CLICnet) to locate resources. 8 felt “highly confident” about locating materials (compared to 4 at the beginning of the course).
  • Selecting appropriate resources – Although only 50% could distinguish differences between JSTOR and Expanded Academic Index, 16 were able to select an appropriate online index/database based on a topic.
  • Plagiarism – Only 3 of 16 were able to identify plagiarism on the post course survey
  • Citation/Bibliography – 14 of 16 rated the citation instruction as “useful” or “somewhat useful”. There was a definite improvement in recognizing a citation as a book or a journal between the pre and post course surveys.
  • Primary/Secondary resources – 14 of 16 were able to correctly identify primary and secondary resources on the post course survey.

Macalester’s Statement of Purpose and Belief - excerpt

“Students should develop the ability to use information and communication resources effectively, be adept at critical, analytical and logical thinking, and express themselves well in both oral and written forms. Finally, students should be prepared to take responsibility for their personal, social and intellectual choices.”

Proposed Definition for Information Fluency at Macalester  (DRAFT) - to discuss with faculty and staff for implementation

At Macalester, "students should develop the ability to use information and communication resources effectively, be adept at critical, analytical and logical thinking, and express themselves well in both oral and written forms."  This excerpt from the college's Statement of Purpose and Belief   sets the stage for discussions on the definition of Information Fluency at Macalester.  In addition, as a liberal arts institution, we see the greater value in asking and determining questions, as opposed to simply supplying answers.

Rigorous exploration of important questions starts with determination of the questions, a basic information need.  Exploration requires a strategy for identifying and critically sifting through the wealth of information available, using technology effectively, and understanding the complex ethical and legal issues surrounding the use of information.  Results are then developed, shared and evaluated,  leading to new information and new knowledge.  New questions emerge, and the cycle begins again.

Revealing this iterative process to students within a disciplinary context is critical to ensure their successful participation in scholarly discourse. Understanding the conceptual frameworks of this process provides a foundation for developing abilities to transform information into knowledge.  Embedding this process into the curriculum empowers all students to become life long learners.

Definition and Rationale for Using Information Fluency

We have discussed the rationale for using “information fluency” as opposed to “literacy.” Literacy is often associated with a set of basic skills, whereas the term fluency is associated with more advanced processes and a deeper understanding of information and knowledge in a subject area. Fluency implies a more rich and robust continuum of skills, concepts, and knowledge development. At the same time, it is agreed that we (Information Services) don’t want to go too far in developing a definition. A draft is composed as a starting point for discussion.