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ENGL 004: Basic Writing Skills (Fetterman)

Learning Objective

After today's class, you will be able to:

  • Define information literacy and identify why it is important and necessary

  • Identify basic criteria for evaluating information sources

What is Information Literacy?

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So, what exactly is information literacy?

Broadly, it is defined as:

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 (Association of College and Research Libraries)

In practical terms, what does that mean for you? Well, an information literate individual can:

  • engage critically with the digital world through an understanding of how information and information technology affect all parts of your life

  • articulate the kind and scope of information needed to address a need

  • find reliable, high-quality information that enables informed decision

  • evaluate all information sources for bias and inaccuracy

  • determine meaning in the information discovered

  • reflect on how personal bias may affect the ability to make meaning

  • use information legally and ethically

You may think these abilities are only useful in school, but they can come in handy in your personal, professional, and civic lives. Do you need to buy a new car? Information literacy can help! Do you need to write a report that recommends where your company's money can be invested? Information literacy can help! Do you need to decide which candidate is telling the truth about a specific policy? Information literacy can help!


It's hard to cover everything information literacy is in one lesson. So, let's focus on how to evaluate information. Finding credible sources is fundamental to making informed decisions. 

You may have instruction about this in the past, but please watch this video on Evaluating Sources as a review.

Not all sources you encounter are equal in their authority, accuracy, and objectivity. But telling the difference between something that supplies facts from that peddles fiction can be difficult.

So, let's analyze and compare how two sources address the following question:

  2. No, the “supermoon” didn’t cause the Japanese earthquake

Both sources are short, but that’s about all they have in common. The approaches they take and the conclusions they reach are very different. As you look at each, ask yourself:

  • Who is the author? Is he/she/it trustworthy or not?
  • What evidence is cited? Are their ways to verify the claims it makes?
  • In what ways is it biased or prejudiced in favor of a particular way of thinking?

Is the moon going to kill us? Which source do you think offers a more credible answer?

Support your answers with specific examples