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Assignment: Information Literacy
by Reba Leiding

This February, JMU faculty had an opportunity to see how some of their colleagues are integrating information literacy objectives into assignments for the major.  In a pair of Center for Faculty Innovation (CFI) workshops held on February 1 and 2, 2007, librarians Kathy Clarke and Claire Clemens and several instructional faculty showcased assignments that were developed last May at the Information for Teaching and Learning Workshop co-sponsored by JMU Libraries and CFI.  In the May workshop, librarians and faculty members partnered to develop assignments that would help students learn how to find, evaluate and effectively use information appropriate to their discipline.  In the February sessions, faculty members reported on the successes and challenges they found in implementing their revised assignments.

Kathy Clarke
Business Librarian Kathy Clarke


The presentations highlighted the varied approaches faculty used in integrating aspects of information literacy into their assignments. Bob Eliason collaborated with Business Librarian Kathy Clarke on developing an assignment for his COB 300 Management course.  The assignment asked students to access information and use it to create a unique information product--in this case, a Wiki.  Students researched core management theories and determined if the theories still have current applications or have evolved. In addition to having his students work on seeking information, they loaded their research and analysis onto the Wiki, which has evolved into an encyclopedic web resource on management theories.

Claire Clemens
Education Librarian Claire Clemens


Physics professor Bill Ingham worked with Science Librarian Meris Mandernach to develop an assignment with the information literacy objective of determining the extent of information needed, by introducing Physics 105 students with various types and levels of science literature.  Students were asked to select a science topic, then find background articles and additional readings that would be appropriate for a high school students, college undergraduates, and science faculty audiences.


Denise Perritt
Education Professor Denise Perritt

Education professor Denise Perritt asked her ADSU 640 students in Leadership Education to read a biography of a leader they were interested in or wanted to learn more about who was outside the field of Education.  For the assignment, the students were to evaluate the leader for effective leadership behaviors in areas such as integrity, fairness, and ethics.  The information literacy component of the assignment, developed in collaboration with Education Librarian Claire Clemens, was to investigate differing viewpoints about the leader in the scholarly literature, and to critically evaluate this information to compare leadership concepts about the leader with what was learned in class.  Finally, they were to incorporate these ideas into their knowledge base to determine what type of future leader they themselves would choose to be.  Perritt noted that some students weren’t entirely successful in fulfilling the assignment, highlighting their need for information literacy skills and experience in library research.  Perritt mentioned in her written evaluation of the assignment that “the assignment is worthwhile in the study of leaders, but more importantly in the development of scholars.”


The complete list of assignments developed in the Spring workshop can be found on the Library’s Instruction web page .


Upcoming Information Literacy Workshop for GenEd Faculty

Last year’s information literacy workshop emphasized assignments in the major.  This year’s Information Literacy for Teaching and Learning workshop focuses on General Education, and is scheduled for May 8-10, 2007. In the workshop General Education faculty will collaborate with librarians to develop assignments that build students’ information literacy skills.  JMU Libraries and the Center for Faculty Innovation, the workshop’s co-sponsors, invite all interested General Education faculty to apply (deadline March 9). Participating faculty will receive a stipend of $1,000 for attending the workshop and revising the syllabus and assignments for one course to incorporate information literacy objectives and activities. For more information, see http://www.lib.jmu.edu/gened/



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