James Madison University
Libraries & Educational Technologies


Creating Effective Information Literacy Assignments

A well designed resource-based assignment can develop students’ research and information skills, critical thinking abilities, and subject knowledge.  Liaison librarians are available to collaborate with faculty to design assignments that promote information literacy and subject learning at the same time.

A well constructed information literacy assignment has the following elements:


State specific information literacy skills that the students are expected to learn.  Optimally, an assignment will have at least one objective for each of the five Association of College and Research Libraries Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education.  For example:


ACRL Standard

Learning Objectives
1 Determine the nature/extent of information needed. a.  Find background informaton in general reference sources

b.  Identify scholarly vs. popular resources

2 Access information effectively and efficiently

a.  identify keywords, synonyms, and related terms.

b.  Construct and implement a search strategy

c.  Record all pertinent citation information

3 Critically evaluate information and its sources

a.  Evaluate reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness, and point of view or bias for information and its sources

b.  Select information that provides evidence for the topic

c.  Investigate differing viewpoints in the literature.

4 Use information effectively to accomplish a purpose.

a.  Articulate knowledge and skills from prior experiences to plan and create a product.

b.  Integrate new and prior information

c.  Communicate clearly to fulfill the purpose fo the assignments.

5 Access and use information ethically.

a.  Understand what constitutes plagiarism.

b.  Use appropriate documentation style.


The assignment provides students with an opportunity to find, evaluate, and use information while learning course content.  The product could be a paper, a speech, or some other product.  Find ideas in Term Paper Alternatives:  Ideas for Resource-Based Assignments

Instruction on how to find and evalutate the needed information helps students complete the assignment successfully and learn important skills.  Liaison librarians will develop online class guides and offer library instruction to support your assignment.

See:  Subject guides, Learning Objects, Class Guides:  See example.

Evaluation criteria for the information literacy learning objectives are clear, in writing, and distributed with the assignment.  Several rubrics are available that can be adapted to fit an assignment:


Be sure to:

See information literacy assignments developed by JMU faculty:

2006 | 2007 | 2008

Learn more:

For more information about the information literacy program, contact:

Jenne Klotz
Director of Library Instruction

James Madison University Libraries & Educational Technologies