The field of Information literacy is very much on the move. It is important that support (advice and training courses) remains relevant to the latest developments. These are:
- international standards and developments
- contiguous or overlapping fields or disciplines
- target groups (students/teachers/researchers)
- the various disciplines of our target groups
- the professional field
- society (and societal needs)
On this page, you will find information about information literacy, metaliteracy, frameworks in which the required competencies are described, learning outcomes that form the basis for curricula, and a subject-based taxonomy that forms the foundation for sharing information literacy resources.
Information literacy and information skills are used interchangeably. Information literacy suggests that it is not just a skill that needs to be developed, but also implies an attitude or awareness in relation to information, knowing how to deal with it. Information skills refer to technical skills that have to be acquired in the fields of searching and selecting information and processing it critically and ethically.
The most commonly used definitions in higher education generally overlap and are usually formulated within a framework, which helps clarify the context of elements from a definition. (For more information, see IL Frameworks/models.)
The ACRL Framework (2015) uses the following definition:
“Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.”
In SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy (2011), information literacy is described thus:
“Information literate people will demonstrate an awareness of how they gather, use, manage, synthesise and create information and data in an ethical manner and will have the information skills to do so effectively.”
Information literacy is ultimately a set of competencies and attitudinal aspects that enable students, researchers, teachers, or employees in higher education to develop into lifelong researchers, learners, and critical citizens.
Metaliteracy is a renewed vision or indeed redesign of information skills. It is an umbrella term covering various literacies that have a role to play. Examples include media literacy, digital literacy, visual literacy, critical literacy and health literacy.
There is an additional focus on the creation, sharing, and distribution of original digital content in a social media environment in which you actively participate.
Metaliteracy contains an evolving set of goals/learning objectives that are related to four learning domains - metacognitive, cognitive, behavioural and affective.
The learner plays an active role based on eight characteristics: informed, collaborative, participatory, reflective, socially involved, adaptable, open, productive.
Worldwide, there are various frameworks and models that describe the information literacy competency. Each model has its own classification, sections, and approach. In many cases, there are descriptions of the required skills and behaviour, as well as of cognitive (thinking), metacognitive (thinking about thinking) and affective (feelings) aspects.
These models can be used as guides for developing lessons, for example, or for communicating with those in the education sector. They are also useful as reference frameworks to see whether your teaching is keeping up with developments. It is not just the information landscape that is changing, but also the way in which we create, consume, and share information.
Three frameworks/models commonly used in the Netherlands are the ACRL Framework, the Research Development Framework, and the SCONUL Seven Pillars. If you click on the links you will find a brief description of each of the models, as well as useful links and an overview of which institutes work with which frameworks.
In a taxonomy, a hierarchy is used for classifying terms, subjects, or goods (Van Aalten, Van der Linden, Sieverts & Becker, 2017). Using such a taxonomy means classifying documents in a database or repository and making them easy to find.
Because the IL Working Group wished to share national teaching resources (via SURFsharekit) and because no suitable IL taxonomy was available at the time, one was created in 2020 (Van der Meer, Post, 2020). The taxonomy was based on a comparison of information literacy standards and frameworks.
More information about its creation, the comparative analysis, and the taxonomy itself can be found in Information Literacy taxonomy - comparison of frameworks.
Figure: Information Literacy taxonomy – schematically display (Van der Meer / Post, 2020)
Aalten, J. V., Linden, M. V. D., Sieverts, E., & Becker, P. (2017). Maak het vindbaar (Doctoral dissertation, De Haagse Hogeschool)
Van der Meer, H.A.L. & Post, M. (2020). Taxonomie informatievaardigheid. Universiteit van Amsterdam / Hogeschool van Amsterdam, Wageningen University.
Learning outcomes are an important starting point when creating and designing teaching. In accordance with the constructive alignment principle, they should be firmly compatible with the teaching activities and assessments; see the Didactics chapter on this site.
Well-formulated learning outcomes are specific, attractive, understandable, appropriate, feasible, and quantifiable (Butcher, Davies & Highton, 2006). A possible format is, ‘After successfully completing this subject, the student will be deemed capable of...’ + verb + subject + context. For example: ‘After successfully completing the Information Literacy module, the student will be deemed capable of conducting literature research for his or her Bachelor’s thesis.’
Various frameworks for information literacy are explained under the IL frameworks/models heading on this site. To move to instruction from these frameworks, learning outcomes may be based on various fields of competence from one or more frameworks. Once the learning outcomes have been determined, different levels can be identified within them. The result can be shown in a diagram: a matrix in which one or more outcomes is described for each field of competence at one or more levels (see Figure 1).
|Field of competence||Learning outcome||Level 1||Level 2||Level 3|
Figure 1: Sample format for a diagram (or matrix) with learning outcomes
As well as being a starting point for designing teaching, a diagram of learning outcomes is also a useful means of communication for fellow professionals, other teachers, and students. It helps mark out learning pathways and facilitates communication, which contributes towards more effective study. Edubadges, digital testimonials for knowledge or skills, can also be awarded to those who have attained one or more learning outcomes or levels.
The WUR and Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) libraries have developed such a scheme for information literacy teaching.
Examples of diagrams for learning outcomes:
- Information Literacy learning outcomes matrix - Wageningen University & Research - Library
- Generieke matrix leeruitkomsten Informatievaardigheid - Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences Library [currently being amended]
Butcher, C., Davies, C., & Highton, M. (2006). Designing Learning. From module outline to effective teaching. Londen: Routledge