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Information Literacy at UMass Dartmouth

Policy Number LIB-020
Effective Date September 11, 2010
Responsible Office/Person Library

Information Literacy at UMass Dartmouth

Information Literacy, along with Computer Literacy, comprise one of five areas of competency in the General Education program at UMass Dartmouth. As of Fall 1998, all incoming students must fulfill course requirements in a variety of fields, including Cultural and Artistic Literacy; Ethics and Social Responsibility; Science and Technology; and Global Awareness and Diversity, as well as demonstrating writing and oral presentation skills. Computer literacy and information literacy are one of the five main areas of competency required for graduation.

The official goals for Computer Literacy and Information Literacy are:
Tier I Computer Literacy

  • operate easily a standard desktop or portable computer, Macintosh and/or IBM/PC models, including disk management skills;
  • manipulate productively common word-processing software to produce a competent college paper, including use of spell-checking and grammar checking utilities, design and layout forms, header-footer, pagination, and related presentation and printing devices;
  • participate competently in on- and off-campus email communication activities; and
  • manipulate Internet access and operation, including using such basic resources as the university's homepage and search engines, as well as downloading and manipulating information from the Internet.

Tier I Information Literacy

  • develop effective search strategies appropriate to their topic and audience;
  • develop a bibliography of appropriate print and electronic resources in pursuit of data for a specific topic;
  • locate and appraise printed resources using bibliographies and other indices, including the electronic information resources of the UMass Dartmouth library as well as those connected to the UMD library through its varied consortia;
  • manipulate productively a variety of Internet search engines;
    discern relative quality, authoritativeness, and value of print and on-line information; and
  • demonstrate awareness of the rules and conventions concerning the use of secondary materials, including citation form, paraphrasing, and related elements of responsible use, paying particular attention to the broad definitions of plagiarism.

Given the current curriculum, the basic goals (Tier I) are to be met in English 101-102, which are the only courses required for all students across the colleges. While the English instructors primarily handle the goals related to bibliographies and proper citation, library research instruction sessions are offered so that students gain practice in search strategies, selecting and using information resources, and finding, using and evaluating information from the Internet. In English 101, students are exposed to general information resources, including electronic magazine and newspaper indexes. Students learn to focus their topics and evaluate sources, and gain familiarity with the physical library collections. In English 102, students learn about specialized resources for literary research and reinforce the searching skills gained in English 101. Many English 102 students also attend a second session which illustrates the differences between general, mainstream magazines and academic, peer-reviewed journals, introduces them to the differences in major search engines, and offers criteria for evaluating information found on the Internet (see ENL 102 class web site). Click here to view a recent presentation about the program at UMass Dartmouth.

Transfer students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in Information and Computer Literacy. Transfer credits for composition courses will not automatically certify the student's requirements in Information and Computer Literacy. Mechanisms for testing and certifying are under development.

As part of the new UMASS Digital Library Initiative, the librarians working with information literacy programs at all five campuses are working together to further the goals of information literacy system-wide. The Information Literacy Initiative has received funding to move ahead with various projects. These projects may include the development of web-based tutorials, online curricular materials, and equipment for delivery to distance education students.

The initial information literacy project, funded by the UMass President's Office, laid the groundwork for the program as it exists today. The original reports and grant proposals are available below and are recommended reading for those who are beginning an information literacy program.

Information Literacy Project includes Initial Project Documents and Grant Proposals, 1996-1999
UMD General Education Information
UMD General Education Requirements