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Information Literacy Benchmarks: Home

Information literacy goals and benchmarks for Muskingum students by year.

What is Information Literacy?

Information Literacy is the library term for the set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information.

 An information literate individual is able to:

  • Determine the extent of information needed
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically
  • Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  • Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally(source)

Information Literacy standards are set by the Association of College and Research Libraries and help librarians be sure we are preparing our students for success in the 21st century world. 

You can read more about Information Literacy at the ACRL's page for Information Literacy Resources

What are Benchmarks?

Benchmarks are meant to reflect both our goals and the reality of what we see from students at Muskingum, both in the in-classroom instruction we do and in the work we do with researchers at the reference desk. 

A benchmark in a certain year means that most students seem to have a solid grasp on that skill by the end of the year in question. Library instruction for courses typicaly taken in a certain year is often geared to help students meet these benchmarks. 

Not every student will leave Muskingum with all benchmarks met. Their information literacy instruction depends greatly on the classes they take, their interaction with librarians, and their own dedication to learning these skills. It is our hope that through partnership between faculty and librarians, we can give the majority of Muskingum students a solid foundation in information skills before graduation. 

First Year

By the end of their first year, Muskingum Students should be able to:

  • Find and request a book via OhioLINK. (V)
  • Locate and use the appropriate subject guide for their topic.  (V)
  • Contact a librarian for help.
  • Distinguish between a scholarly article and a popular article. (III)
  • Use Muskie Scholar to locate articles and books on common topics. (V) 
  • Use the FindIt! button to find full text articles.  (V)
  • Know where to find help on citation styles.

Second Year

By the end of their second year, Muskingum Students should be able to:

  • Evaluate web resources. (III)
  • Use web search engines to find quality sources on their topic.  (V)
  • Understand the difference between domains (.gov, .edu, .com, .org)  (III)
  • Understand the difference between library-provided online content and freely available Internet content. (IV)
  • Use topic-specific databases to locate articles.  (V)
  • Use limits and facets to narrow a search.  (V)
  • Understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. (VI)
  • Narrow a topic through the course of research. (II)

Third Year

By the end of their third year, Muskingum Students should be able to:

  • Use reference and background sources to build research questions and keyword lists.  (II, V)
  • Use advanced search tools such as Booleans operators and truncation.  (V)
  • Identify databases outside their subject area that may have relevant information.  (V)
  • Use bibliographies and footnotes to locate further sources for their topic. (I, V)
  • Use a citation manual to look up unusual citation formats. (VI)
  • Identify the format of information most likely to be of use to their research (IE books, scholarly articles, popular articles, internet) (II, III)
  • Identify the research tool best suited to discover the type of information they need.  (II)
  • Break a topic into specific research questions. (II)
  • Identify the difference between primary and secondary sources in their field. (I)
  • Evaluate scholarly sources using criteria of currency, relevancy, accuracy, authority, and purpose. (I, III)Identify the difference between primary and secondary sources in their field. (I)

Fourth Year

By the end of their fourth year, Muskingum Students should be able to:

  • Locate and request items through interlibrary loan.  (V)
  • Use controlled vocabulary to locate useful items.  (V)
  • Locate primary sources in their area of research. (I)
  • Understand the scholarly conversation including concepts of debate and bias. (I)