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Information literacy
Guidelines for the future

Information Literacy: A combination of knowledge, understanding and skills that enable independent research and inquiry for lifelong learning

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Introduction to our Programme

Information literacy is increasingly recognised as an important educational outcome for university students.   The ability to handle information with skill and understanding cannot, however, be taught exclusively through library instruction which is often presented as one-shot training sessions.  This is not conducive to include the full scope of what is required to conduct proper research.  Information literacy is a complex set of skills which requires long-term development over a significant period of time and cannot be learned by rote.   For students to acquire the skill of becoming information literate, the research process has to find a home in the curriculum, where the academic guides the student as they acquire and use information to solve problems.  


The University designed graduate attributes to guide lecturers in developing the knowledge, skills and competencies of students to become lifelong learners. Considerable efforts are made to align the attributes with curricula at faculty and institutional levels.


Therefore, the Library, too, has a responsibility, in collaboration with other stakeholders, to provide leadership and expertise to develop and enhance 21st Century literacies and hence, graduate attributes, so that students are equipped to become lifelong learners.   Librarians have valuable roles to play in processes of embedding literacies and promoting relevant teaching and learning practices that develop graduate attributes.


While departments may have already aligned graduate attributes with their curriculum, it is not certain to what extent this is enacted in teaching and learning activities and assessment.   The Library uses the ACRL Framework for Information literacy for Higher Education as a guide to embed critical literacies in teaching and learning across the institution. This document was officially adopted in 2016 and contains concepts which are relevant to independent learning and engagement with information. Collaboration with lecturers and faculty librarians is aimed at weaving these concepts strategically into library training and all other teaching and learning activities at UWC.  


For a detailed overview of the ACRL Framework and its relevance to student learning please view the tutorial below

21st Century Literacies and Graduate Attributes Tutorial

Contact Shehaamah Mohamed for more information.  
shmohamed@uwc.ac.za or 021-959-2922

UWC Library Strategy

This guide details how the library’s instruction program addresses the learning outcomes of the ACRL Frameworks for Information Literacy.

21st Century Literacies and Graduate Attributes Tutorial
Integrating Information Literacy Elements in Your Modules
Learning Outcomes
Class& Activity Plans
Further Reading & Resources
21st Century Literacies and Graduate Attributes Tutorial
Integrating Information Literacy Elements in Your Modules

Single Session

Many faculty request single-session library instruction.  These sessions are most effective when designed around a particular assignment or student need.  Single-session instruction typically focuses on one or more of the following:

  • Database Instruction
  • Developing a Research Question
  • Brainstorming Keywords and Developing a Search Strategy
  • Evaluating Information
  • Citation information

Librarians can work with you to craft the instruction session that fits the unique needs of your student and class. Example: Database instruction is a popular topic, and librarians can instruct a class in using any of the databases, alone or in combination. In a single-session database class, students come to the course with an assignment for which they need scholarly resources.

  • For an in-person session, the librarian walks students through the topic, identifying key terms and asking them to brainstorm keywords for their topics. Using these examples, the librarian demonstrates how to effectively use the database, including tips such as paying attention to database keywords and subject terms, navigating through “Full Text Finder” links, and managing citation information.

Multiple Sessions

Research indicates that instruction works best at the student point of need, and that students attending multiple sessions show “improvement in the type and quality of resources used for academic writing” (Henry, Glaunder and LeFoe, 2015, 28). Thus, it can be ideal to incorporate instruction at multiple points in the semester to provide exactly the right instruction at exactly the right time. Multiple sessions also enable a class to engage more deeply with materials, develop advanced skills, and provide time to address more complex research questions.  Faculty may choose the best times to have librarians come to their classroom, bring the students to the library, or request course-specific eLearn modules. Instruction can comprise a series of anywhere from 15 minute to full-class sessions, depending upon the material covered. Sessions can be scheduled at any time in the semester. In addition to the material covered in single sessions, multiple sessions can address topics such as:

  • Advanced database searching
  • Refining research questions
  • Refining keywords based on the resource being searched
  • Evaluating your search strategy
  • Using resources to create original scholarship

In addition to meeting with the full class, librarians can meet with small groups and/or individual students. Example: In a chemistry course the students have a library session in which they begin their research to prepare for an upcoming lab experiment. The librarian provides introductory instruction on developing keywords and effectively using a subject-specific database. After they have completed the lab, students return to the library to find additional research to support their findings. The librarian helps students refine the keywords used in the first session and demonstrates advanced search techniques. The librarian attends the class for a third session to discuss citation and proper documentation when writing the lab report.

Integrated Librarian

Integrating a librarian into your course can be an effective way to achieve your information goals. Librarians are available to collaborate on courses throughout their creation, implementation, and evaluation. We can assist during syllabus design with the creation of research assignments, recommend resources, provide in-person instruction at multiple points during the semester, create eLearn modules or participate in eLearn discussion boards to respond to students’ research questions, and provide resources for assessment and evaluation.   Example: A first-year history lecturer meets with a librarian while revising their syllabus to incorporate a new research assignment. The librarian identifies potential databases, readings, and open-source digital resources. Some of these are assigned to the students by the lecturer as course readings, and others are incorporated into planned library instruction sessions. The students meet with the librarian for basic database instruction prior to starting their assignment. The librarian provides feedback on iKamva on students’ research proposals. Using information from those proposals, the librarian conducts a second instruction session on more advanced search strategies and assists students as they brainstorm ways to refine their research questions. Students then meet one-on-one with the librarians for individual assistance. When their assignments are submitted, the librarian provides the lecturer with an evaluation of students’ research practices and the sources used, and the lecturer uses this feedback as part of the grading process. If you would like to add a librarian to your modules on iKamva or discuss a collaboration contact any of the reference librarians.

Bici, T Ms / Chiya, K Mr

Faculty Librarian (Arts) Level 8 Email 2296

Cook, K Mrs

Faculty Librarian (CHS) Level 11 Email 2684

Davids, F Mr

Faculty Librarian (Dentistry) Dentistry Email 021 937 3165

Kotze, C P Mr

Faculty Librarian (Education) Level 11 Email 2928

Louw, G Mr

Faculty Librarian (CHS) Level 11 Email 9471

Mgquba, S Ms

Faculty Librarian (Science) Level 14 Email 2930

Mpandle, K Ms

Faculty Librarian (EMS) Level 7 Email 3211

Van Niekerk, G Ms

Faculty Librarian (LAW) Level 9 Email 2919

Mangadi, J Mr

Faculty Librarian Services   Email  
Learning Outcomes

Authority is Constructed and Contextual

These learning outcomes are informed by the concepts of the ACRL Framework and are aimed at developing information literate ways of thinking and behaviour in student learning

The authority of an information resource depends upon its origins, context, and suitability for a current information need. Learners who understand this concept will critically examine sources and ask questions about them; they will also recognize and acknowledge biases that privilege some sources of authority over others and be able to define contexts in which unlikely resources are appropriate and authoritative. Learning Outcomes Students can:
  • Use various research tools to locate resources in a range of formats
  • Evaluate resources using appropriate criteria
  • Identify different types of authority
  • Describe the biases of an information resource
Students will:
  • Seek authoritative information from both traditional and non-traditional sources
  • Develop an open mind when selecting and evaluating resources
  • Develop a critical stance and awareness of their own biases
  • Identify the economic, legal, and socioeconomic factors that influence the research they see and access

Information Creation as a Process

Information is used to convey knowledge, and it exists in a variety of formats that reflect a range of research, revision, and editorial processes. Learners who understand this concept will recognize that different formats are valued differently based upon their context and the researcher’s information need; they will examine the process of creation as well as the final product to critically evaluate the usefulness of information. Learning Outcomes Students can:
  • Identify steps in the information creation process
  • Describe the range of information formats
  • Define the differences between traditional and emerging information creation and dissemination practices
  • Articulate how information is perceived and valued differently based on its format
Students will:
  • Match their information need with an appropriate format or formats
  • Identify the value placed upon different formats within different contexts
  • Recognize that format does not guarantee the value of an information resource
  • Examine how a resource is created as well as the final product when evaluating its usefulness

Information Has Value

The value of information takes many forms: it is a means for educating individuals and influencing ideas and a tool for negotiating and understanding the world. Learners who understand this concept understand their rights and responsibilities when creating and using information; they will recognize how information can be used to effect change or for civic, economic, social, or personal gains.
Learning Outcomes
Students can:
  • Credit the work of others through proper attribution and citations
  • Articulate the purpose and characteristics of copyright, fair use, open access, and the public domain
  • Decide where and how to publish their own information while protecting their intellectual property rights
Students will:
  • Make informed choices related to the privacy and publication of their personal information
  • Recognize that information has the power to influence individuals’ understanding of an issue
  • Recognize why some individuals or groups may be underrepresented or marginalized within systems that create and distribute information
  • Recognize disparities in access to information
  • Value the skills, time, and resources needed to produce knowledge ​

Research as Inquiry

Research is iterative and requires us to ask increasingly complex questions that lead to new questions and areas of inquiry. Learners who understand this concept see research as a process and understand that research is used to meet personal, professional, or social, as well as academic needs; they recognize that inquiry ranges from the simple query, to the complex investigation requiring sophisticated research methods and a broad range of information sources.
Learning Outcomes
Students can:
  • Form questions based on self-identified gaps in their knowledge
  • Determine an appropriate scope of investigation
  • Synthesize information from a variety of sources
  • Use appropriate research methods based on their information need
  • Follow ethical and legal guidelines in gathering and using information
Students will:
  • Define research as open-ended exploration
  • Value intellectual curiosity in developing questions
  • Value persistence, adaptability, and flexibility in their research practices
  • Maintain an open mind and a critical stance
  • Seek help when needed

Scholarship as Conversation

Communities of scholars, researchers, and professionals engage in ongoing discourse that is open to new contributions and diverse viewpoints. Learners who understand this concept will recognize that ideas are formulated, debated, and weighed against one another over extended periods of time and may not have established answers; they recognize that existing power and authority structures further influence which individuals have a voice in scholarly conversations.
Learning Objectives:
Students can:
  • Identify the contribution a particular article, book, or scholarly piece makes to disciplinary knowledge
  • Summarize the changes in a particular scholarly topic over time
  • Seek out the larger scholarly context for a particular piece of information
  • Contribute to the scholarly conversation at an appropriate level through original research
  • Identify the barriers to entering scholarly conversations in various venues
Students will:
  • Recognize that a scholarly work may not represent the only or even the majority perspective on an issue
  • Value the work of others by respecting intellectual property and providing credit
  • Value new forms of scholarship that provide avenues for a wide variety of individuals to participate
  • View themselves as contributors to scholarship rather than consumers

Searching as Strategic Exploration

Searching is a nonlinear process that involves inquiry, discovery, and serendipity. Learners who understand this will evaluate a wide range of sources to meet their information needs, and will display the persistence and mental flexibility to pursue different routes as their understanding develops. They will have the ability to broaden their search resources and strategies.
Learning Objectives:
Students can:
  • Determine the scope of their information need
  • Match search tools and resources to their information need
  • Identify the broad range of information sources on a particular topic and how to locate them
  • Use different search strategies effectively
Students will:
  • Conduct a comprehensive search of resources within their area of inquiry
  • Recognize that the relevance and value of resources will vary depending on the needs and nature of their research
  • Design and refine their search language and strategies based on search results
  • Exhibit mental flexibility and creativity
  • Seek guidance from librarians, faculty and other experts

Creating a Program

Adapted from DIL-Data Information Literacy http://www.datainfolit.org/dilguide/

Integrating Information Literacy into Assignments

  • Consult a librarian to share your learning objectives, to ensure that the resources are available for your assignment, and to arrange for instruction.
  • Librarians can come to your class, maintain a presence in your modules on iKamva and/or meet individually with students.
  • In addition to instruction, librarians are available to consult on assignment design.
  • Collaborating with librarians can help you determine the best ways to meet your curricular needs.
  • Instruction is most effective when it is delivered at the point of need, rather than at the beginning of the semester before the students are engaged in the assignment.
  • Librarians are happy to provide as many sessions as you would like to meet your needs.
  • Librarians can also collaborate with you to identify the resources available to promote students’ skill development.
  • If you share your assignment ahead of time, the librarian can plan the best mode of instruction to meet your learning outcomes.
  • When students receive the assignment, make sure they are aware of your expectations regarding interacting with librarians.
  • During instruction, librarians also emphasize the various ways to contact the Faculty Librarians.
  • Based on your assignment, librarians deliver assignment and discipline specific instruction mapped to specific learning outcomes.
  • Librarians are also available to consult on assessment tools and options.
  • Feedback from faculty on the instruction we provide enables us to create enhanced resources and services.
  • After the assignment has been assessed, let the librarian know what worked well and where the instruction could be improved.
Class& Activity Plans

* These lessons were prepared by the MacPháidín Library, StoneHill College, Easton Massachusetts





For Students

There are seven modules to help you develop your knowledge and skill in working with information sources.  The tutorial does not have to be completed in one sitting.

Click here to start with the tutorial.

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