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Information Literacy Instruction

highlights library instruction sessions and resources for increasing students' information literacy


Instruction offerings can be combined and customized.  Visit the tabbed box below for possible sessions. This is not an exhaustive list.

Individual librarian approaches may vary and times are approximate. Once your session has been scheduled with an instructor, he or she will work with you on session details.

Visit our online form to request an instruction session.

Available Library Sessions

Crafting a Good Research Question (45 minutes)

We will discuss the elements of a good research question and students will evaluate existing research questions before drafting their own.

Recommendation:  It is helpful if students come with background knowledge around one or more topic areas so they have ideas for crafting their own questions.  See TRAIL materials for information on crafting a research question prior to a library session.

Develop a Search Strategy (20-30 minutes)

We will work with sample research questions to discuss scope and use of keywords and synonyms in searching.  Students will take their own research question or topic and extract keywords to create an initial search strategy.

Recommendation:  It can be useful to pair this lesson with “Effective Search Strategies in Databases”.

Understanding the Spectrum of Sources (20-30 minutes)

In this session, students will become more knowledgeable about the purpose and production of various information sources.  This understanding will help students make informed decisions about what information sources (e.g. book, blog, journal articles) to use for their specific information need.   Students will be asked to watch a brief video prior to class.  The discussion will also address popular and scholarly sources.

Use Your Amazon Skills to Search Academic Databases (20 minutes)

The goal of this session is to help students apply their existing knowledge of database searching (e.g. Amazon) to library databases (e.g. Academic Search Complete) by first discussing what databases are and highlighting similar elements in these search tools.  Through this, students will understand the purposes of databases, become more comfortable with academic databases, and use database functionality to their advantage.

Recommendation:  Consider pairing this lesson with “Locating Suitable Databases” and/or “Using Databases to Find Articles”.

Locating Suitable Databases (10 minutes)

Students will be introduced to the database listing at UC Merced and will use summary and filter information to locate potential databases for a specific research area.

Recommendation:  Consider pairing this with “Use Your Amazon Skills to Search Academic Databases” and/or “Using Databases to Find Articles”.

Effective Search Strategies in Databases (20-30 minutes)

In this session, we will demonstrate five search strategies (Boolean logic, phrase searching, filters, fields, and subjects) for use in databases.  Students will be asked to apply these search strategies to their own research questions or topics.

Recommendation:  Have students come with a research question or topic.  Consider pairing this lesson with “Develop a Search Strategy”.

Using Databases to Find Articles (10-15 min. per database)

We will demonstrate use of a specific database and allow students a few minutes to try their own searches in the database.

Recommendation:  Introduce at a time when students have determined their research need and are ready to begin finding resources. Consider introducing databases prior to library session to allow for more hands-on searching and time for librarians to answer specific student questions.

Using the Library’s Catalog (Melvyl) to Find Books (15 minutes)

In the session, we will highlight search strategies to use in Melvyl to locate both print and electronic books. If needed, this will include a brief demo of Requesting books located at other libraries.

Beyond Wikipedia -- Finding Background Information (30 minutes)

Based on the type of background information students require, we will compare the content and functionality of Wikipedia to another reference source, such as CREDO reference.  Students will locate a suitable reference source on an identified subject and explain why the source is would help meet their information need.

Related Tutorials:  Students can be introduced to CREDO independently or prior to the session through a Guide on the Side (GOTS) tutorial.

* Web Searching Tips / Using Google Effectively

Networked!  Use Citations to Find MORE Information (20 minutes)

In this session, we will focus on the value of citations as a way to locate more resources.   We will highlight how to use bibliographies and Cited By information.  Students will be asked to use bibliographies and Cited By information from a pre-identified articles to locate valuable resources or researchers.

Recommendation: This lesson can also be paired with “Find a Known Book or Article” since students are not always working with hyperlinked citations.

Related Tutorials: “Article Networks”, “Article Networks in Web of Science”, “Article Networks in Google Scholar”.

Find a Known Book or Article  (30 minutes)

Students are shown strategies for locating a book or articles when they have complete or incomplete citation information.  We will model those strategies and then ask students to use those strategies to locate specific resources.  If needed, this will include a brief demo of Requesting books located at other libraries.

Locating Literature Reviews & Original Research (20-30 minutes)

We will explain characteristics of these resource types and share strategies for identifying them.  Students will be asked to locate both literature reviews and original research.  They will articulate why they have identified an article as X type.

Findings Reviews of Books (or Films) (15-20 minutes)

We will demonstrate how students can use resources like Film Literature Index, FIAF International Index to Film Periodicals, MLA International Bibliography, and Literature Online to find reviews of books and films, and provide strategies to help them find what they need. Students will be asked to search for information about books and films relevant to their research and to share their findings and questions.

Related tutorials: "Finding Film Reviews in Film Literature Index;" "Finding Film Reviews in International Index to Performing Arts."

Finding Primary Sources (20 minutes)

What is a primary source in your discipline? What tools are available to help students find this material? In this session, we will discuss how a primary source differs from other types of sources, and guide students to resources they can use to find primary sources. Depending on the discipline, these resources may include datasets, newspaper articles, journal entries, and more.

Related tutorials: Research Process Tutorial Series -- "Research Cycle," and "Types of Sources."

Finding Statistics (30 minutes)

Sessions are available to provide a basic introduction to government statistics that can be found via FedStats or California state government agencies, as well as strategies for searching for statistics online. We can also introduce students to statistical databases, such as Data USA, Statista, etc. Other sessions can be created to explore statistical sources tailored to a particular topic.

Recommendation: This session is geared toward students who have a specific assignment in which the use of statistics would be helpful in building an argument.

Conducting an Systematic Review (45-50 minutes)

This session provides a basic introduction to systematic reviews, and touches upon topics like keywords, controlled vocabulary, and search strategies in addition to PICOTS, grey literature, and how to locate reviews that already exist.

Recommendation: This session is geared toward students in upper-division classes and graduate students.

News Evaluation - Beyond the Checklist (1 hour 30 minutes)

In this jigsaw lesson, students are asked to evaluate an article’s content, tone, and purpose in a large group before they discuss the article in the context of two other articles on the same topic in a smaller group.  Students will focus more on content, corroboration, and source knowledge (rather than a mere checklist) to make decisions about a news article’s bias and level of accuracy.   Students will be required to read an assigned news article prior to this session.

Faculty are also welcome to use and adapt these lesson materials.   Three potential articles from August 2018 around Alex Jones' ban from social media are available in Box.  

Tactical Moves for Web Evaluation (1 hour 15 minutes)

The web offers both trustworthy and dubious information.  As a result, we must constantly evaluate what we read and watch online.  In this session, librarians will share three tactics and some tools for fact-checking online information and have you work in groups to try these strategies and tools on your own.  Our goal is to use effective web strategies to quickly and accurately evaluate information.

News Evaluation / Fake News (20-30 minutes)

It is important to know the tools that are available to distinguish between real news information and information that exists for commercial (or other) purposes. This brief introduction to identifying questionable (and sometimes blatantly false) information will encourage students to use sites like Snopes, etc to corroborate and investigate what they find on the internet.

Recommendation: This session would pair well with one of the longer options listed above, which focus on these issues in more depth.

Shed Light on How Sources are Used with BEAM (50 minutes)

This session introduces students to BEAM, a framework proposed by Joseph Bizup for examining sources by the source's function rather than focusing on popular/scholarly, primary/secondary, book/article etc.  Students will examine whether sources are used for Background, Evidence, Argument or Method/Theory.  By identifying source function, students will become increasingly aware of what sources they need in their own research and writing. 

This lesson requires student to view a short video prior to the session.

Doing Research with Integrity (Avoiding Plagiarism) (20-25 minutes)

This brief introduction to what plagiarism is and why students should avoid it focuses on case studies and real-life examples. Emphasis here is on strategies to use to avoid plagiarism and academic dishonesty, rather than on punitive measures that may result.

Using RefWorks to Manage Your Research (1 hour)

This session will introduce students to RefWorks as a tool for organizing and citing their sources.  They will create and populate a RefWorks account with references.  In addition, they will become familiar with key functionality including the ability to edit references, add full-text, annotate articles, and write and cite in Word or Google documents.

Recommendation:  RefWorks is especially useful for projects where students are required to use and cite multiple sources.

Personal Data Management  (45 minutes)

This session will introduce students to the importance of data management for personal, academic and research use. Through a workshop focusing on best practices for managing and organizing digital materials, students will learn how to apply file naming conventions, folder structure, and other data management standards.