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Greenfield Community College

Greenfield Community College

GCC Statement on Information Literacy

This statement outlines how we define information literacy here at GCC, and what related learning outcomes we expect students to meet as they participate in workshops, classes, and co-curricular activities. It operationalizes the statements found in the Principles of Education and the General Education Abilities, in order to help us better understand what information literacy looks like in practice here on our campus. By breaking down information literacy into achievable student learning outcomes that we can teach and assess, we can ensure that we are meeting the standards we have set for ourselves.

Download this statement as a pdf.

What is information literacy?

Information literacy is the ability to determine an information need and then find and use quality information to meet that need.  Often, “information literacy” is used interchangeably with “research.”  An information literate person is not only a successful researcher; they are also a lifelong learner and creator of knowledge, able to successfully engage with a changing information environment on an ongoing basis. Information literacy competencies are transferrable to personal, professional, and academic contexts.  Every student that attends a class at GCC should leave with increased information literacy skills.

Background and Context

Information literacy is a core value in GCC academics. The idea of information literacy can be found in multiple places in our Principles of Education:

  • Under Diversity and Community:
    • Participate in communities as both teacher and learner, connecting with others, sharing thoughts and creating knowledge while taking advantage of an open environment that values critical thinking and civil discourse.
  • Under Literacy and Communication:
    • Identify a need for information and know how and where to find it.
  • Under Knowledge and Thinking:
    • Access, organize, interpret, evaluate, synthesize and apply information.
    • Reflect on and assess information and knowledge from differing perspectives.

It is also found in our General Education Abilities:

  1. Locate, evaluate and use various sources of information.

Additionally, information literacy is required by our accrediting agency, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Specifically, information literacy concepts can be found under Standard 4, the Academic Program:

  • 4.12:     Expectations for student achievement, independent learning, information literacy, skills in inquiry, and critical judgment are appropriate to the subject matter and degree level and in keeping with generally accepted practice.
  • 4.15:     Graduates successfully completing an undergraduate program demonstrate competence in written and oral communication in English; the ability for scientific and quantitative reasoning, for critical analysis and logical thinking; and the capability for continuing learning, including the skills of information literacy.  They also demonstrate knowledge and understanding of scientific, historical, and social phenomena, and a knowledge and appreciation of the aesthetic and ethical dimensions of humankind.
  • 4.19:     The major or area of concentration affords the student the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills in a specific disciplinary or clearly articulated interdisciplinary area above the introductory level through properly sequenced course work or competencies.  Requirements for the major or area of concentration are based upon clear and articulated learning objectives, including a mastery of the knowledge, information resources, methods, and theories pertinent to a particular area of inquiry.  Through the major or concentration, the student develops an understanding of the complex structure of knowledge germane to an area of inquiry and its interrelatedness to other areas of inquiry.  For programs designed to provide professional training, an effective relationship exists between curricular content or competencies and effective practice in the field of specialization.  Graduates demonstrate an in-depth understanding of an area of knowledge or practice, its principal information resources, and its interrelatedness with other areas.
How can these outcomes be used?

These outcomes will help instructors, departments, and programs to develop, implement, teach, and assess an information literacy program. Classroom faculty, student affairs staff, and department and program chairs may measure these outcomes in whatever ways they see fit. Surveys, discussions, in-class assignments, research papers, and test questions are all potential ways to assess if students are meeting desired outcomes. Librarians are available to help design assignments, co-teach information literacy components of your course, or assist in assessing students’ information literacy skills in a single class, a full course, or a program.

In fact, working with faculty, staff, and departments in this programmatic way is vital to meeting the library mission “to provide the services and resources necessary to develop an information literate population” and vision to “support the transformation of information into knowledge for all members of the GCC community.”

The Library cannot achieve these goals alone – the responsibility for information literacy needs to be shared across the campus.

How were these outcomes determined?

This list was originally created from the student learning outcomes that librarians use in library classroom instruction. These were then linked to the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education. This is the core, nationally recognized document on information literacy, and was the inspiration for library instruction-specific student learning outcomes initially.

Additionally, the AAC&U LEAP VALUE rubric for information literacy, the NEASC Standards for Accreditation, and the GCC 2013 Liberal Arts General Program Review were consulted.

Student Learning Outcomes

These information literacy learning outcomes, presented alphabetically, are best suited to our student population and campus degree programs. They represent global skills that will be useful to all students, regardless of major (although implementation may vary by field). Students may be able to accomplish some of these skills by completing one class session or one course; other outcomes will need to be developed over an entire degree program.

Any student graduating with an associate’s degree should be able to achieve outcomes in each category.

1. Authority is constructed and contextual
  • a. Students analyze the value that is placed upon different types of information products in varying contexts in order to choose suitable information for a particular context.
  • b. Students discuss what types of materials are appropriate for college-level research in order to evaluate and choose appropriate sources for their information needs.
  • c. Students examine how standards of authority differ from discipline to discipline in order to communicate effectively within a disciplinary community.
  • d. Students identify credible information across a variety of formats (print, video, web, etc.) in order to integrate a diversity of sources into their research.
  • e. Students recognize that their speech, writing, and research influence their own authority in order to communicate in context-appropriate ways.
2. Information creation is a process
  • a. Students analyze their information needs, as well as how and why a particular information product was created, in order to select appropriate information.
  • b. Students criticize at least one unresolved problem in the current scholarly landscape (paywalls, lack of replication, failure to publish negative results, open access information) in order to participate in future academic knowledge production.
  • c. Students describe some characteristics of both popular and scholarly sources in order to distinguish between types of information.
  • d. Students describe some ways in which scholars interact when creating and validating knowledge (i.e. peer review, publishing, replication of results) in order to understand how information evolves.
  • e. Students develop and continually revise an academic research process in order to successfully conduct research in their field.
3. Information has value
  • a. Students decide when citations are needed in order to correctly integrate information in their creations.
  • b. Students describe academic honesty issues in order to use information ethically.
  • c. Students determine needed metadata, resources, and technology in order to legally access a physical or electronic information item.
  • d. Students identify library resources that are available to them in order to recognize the library’s role in their lifelong learning.
  • e. Students recognize their role as creators of information in order to recognize the value of both their own work and the work of others.
  • f. Students write properly formatted, discipline-appropriate citations when using others’ ideas or words in order to effectively communicate in a given field.
4. Research is inquiry
  • a. Students break complex questions into simpler ones in order to limit the scope of investigations.
  • b. Students construct research questions in order to focus their information-seeking process.
  • c. Students identify key concepts and related terms in their research questions in order to effectively begin the searching process.
5. Scholarship is conversation
  • a. Students compare differences between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources in order to identify original research within a discipline.
  • b. Students create and share an original idea or creation in an appropriate format, with attention to both audience and conventions, in order to effectively communicate in the associated field.
  • c. Students integrate an appropriate, authoritative information source in their work in order to support a thesis of their own creation.
6. Searching is strategic exploration
  • a. Students compare information sources and prior knowledge in order to determine the probable accuracy of a source.
  • b. Students distinguish between academic and personal research in order to develop context-appropriate research processes.
  • c. Students employ background and reference information in order to focus their information-seeking process and increase familiarity with their topic.
  • d. Students identify a diversity of opinions on their subject in order to challenge their own prior knowledge, preconceptions, and internal and external biases.
  • e. Students seek outside help when they hit a roadblock in their research process in order to more effectively conduct future research.

Adopted by Assembly, October 2017

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