Barton Academic Research Tools
The Barton Library has created the Barton Academic Research Tools, a multi-literacies (ML) program that instructs students in the areas of information literacy, primary source literacy, visual literacy, digital literacy, and artificial intelligence literacy. While literacy was once confined to printed or written forms of language, multi-literacies has expanded to involve various modes of representation across linguistic and cultural boundaries including audio, gestures, and visual designs. Learning materials focus on "21st-century skills," including research, problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and creativity, that meet the academic needs of community college students and those intending to transfer to a four-year university, as well as for professional, lifelong learning, and/or personal needs. Successfully achieving the ML program's learning outcomes will enable students to become proficient inquirers, astute consumers of textual evidence and visual media, and, ultimately, active and informed citizens.
The Barton Library endeavors to teach students the following skills regardless of format:
- How individuals create, distribute, gather, and consume information.
- How to determine the extent of needed information.
- How to ethically and legally access information.
- How to critically evaluate information and its sources.
- How to use information and information systems and technologies ethically and effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.
- How to consider the impact of information in modern society through the examination of information issues and information-seeking behavior.
In-Library and Website Support
- Instructors can schedule a library instruction session for their course by contacting their assigned subject specialist librarian.
- Introductory Library tours with an overview of academic resources.
- Orientations to library research tailored to meet specific course needs.
- Hands-on practice in how to use databases and Internet resources.
- Guidance in strategies for Internet searching and evaluation.
- Discipline- or course-centered Research Guides.
- Citation Guides.
- One-on-one or group research appointments to review research plans, search strategies, etc.
The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) defines information literacy as “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.”
The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions declared in the Alexandria Proclamation on Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning (2005) that “information literacy and lifelong learning are the beacons of the Information Society, illuminating the courses to development, prosperity and freedom. Information Literacy lies at the core of lifelong learning. It empowers people in all walks of life to seek, evaluate, use and create information effectively to achieve their personal, social, occupational and educational goals. It is a basic human right in a digital world and promotes social inclusion of all nations.
“Lifelong learning enables individuals, communities and nations to attain their goals and to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the evolving global environment for shared benefit. It assists them and their institutions to meet technological, economic and social challenges, to redress disadvantage and to advance the well-being of all.”
Information literacy involves the awareness of how information is created, accessed, shared, and valued, and the ability to effectively and ethically identify, locate, evaluate, organize, apply, and communicate information in multiple formats and within cultural and social contexts.
Information literacy is comprised of:
- Conceptual perceptions, such as a recognition of how and why information has value or may be considered authoritative.
- Behaviors or attitudes, including persistence and flexibility when engaged in research.
- Core skills or competencies, such as the ability to effectively locate and access the needed information.
Benefits of Information Literacy
In 2017, the Greater Western Library Alliance conducted a survey of 42,624 students in more than 1,725 first-year courses that had incorporated an information literacy component. The study, which was performed at twelve major universities, found that in eight institutions retention rates were higher for students whose courses had included information literacy instruction. Additionally, these information literate students reported an average increase of 0.02 percent in their first-year GPAs than those who had not received such instruction. They also were expected to complete 1.8 more credit hours.
Jeremy Shapiro and Shelly Hughes (1996) asserted information literacy should range from "knowing how to use computers and access information to critical reflection on the nature of information itself, its technical infrastructure, and its social, cultural and even philosophical context and impact—as essential to the mental framework of the educated information-age citizen as the trivium of basic liberal arts (grammar, logic and rhetoric) was to the educated person in medieval society."
As noted, information literacy will be a lifelong learning process that must develop even after students leave higher education and engage with an increasingly endless volume of information through the internet, mass media, and published works. The quality of information varies greatly between available sources, and the Association of American Colleges and Universities reported that the intellectual and practical skill of information literacy is an essential learning outcome for students as they prepare to encounter twenty-first century challenges.
Six Concepts of Information Literacy
The Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (ACRL, 2016) identifies six core information literacy concepts:
- Authority Is Constructed and Contextual — Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used. Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that the information need may help to determine the level of authority required.
- Information Creation as a Process — Information in any format is produced to convey a message and is shared via a selected delivery method. The iterative processes of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information vary, and the resulting product reflects these differences.
- Information Has Value — Information possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. Legal and socioeconomic interests influence information production and dissemination.
- Research as Inquiry — Research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field.
- Scholarship as Conversation — Communities of scholars, researchers, or professionals engage in sustained discourse with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of varied perspectives and interpretations.
- Searching as Strategic Exploration — Searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a range of information sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding develops.
The ACRL has published a number of companion documents to the information literacy framework that establish competencies relevant to certain academic disciplines:
- Information Literacy Competency Standards for Nursing (2013)
- Information Literacy Standards for Anthropology and Sociology Students (2008)
- Information Literacy Standards for Science and Technology (2006)
- Information Literacy Standards for Teacher Education (2011)
- Journalism (2022)
- Politics, Policy, and International Relations (2021)
- Psychology Information Literacy Standards (2010)
- Research Competencies in Writing and Literature (2021)
- Roles and Strengths of Teaching Librarians (2017)
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (2022)
- Social Work (2021)
- Sociology (2022)
- Women's and Gender Studies (2021)
The Barton Library has created several learning aids to assist students in assessing sources. When weighing the merits of a scholarly work, avail yourself of the Evaluating Resources (S.T.A.R.T.) guide. With numerous choices of materials available to students, see the Library's thoughts on Reliable Publishers.
Final Report (National Forum on Information Literacy)
Information Literacy (American Library Association)
Information Literacy Section (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions)
International Alliance for Information Literacy (IAIL)
There is no one definition of a primary source in terms of format or age of the materials. Yale University defines the term as “firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. The nature and value of a source cannot be determined without reference to the topic and questions it is meant to answer. The same document, or other piece of evidence, may be a primary source in one investigation and secondary in another. The search for primary sources does not, therefore, automatically include or exclude any category of records or documents.”
The Association of College and Research Libraries’ Rare Book and Manuscript Section and the Society of American Archivists have defined primary source literacy as “the combination of knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, and ethically use primary sources within specific disciplinary contexts, in order to create new knowledge or to revise existing understandings.”
Primary source literacy interconnects with information literacy, visual literacy, and digital literacy, and with concepts such as collective memory, cultural heritage, and individual and cultural perspectives.
Benefits of Primary Source Literacy
Ithaka S+R coordinated a survey of twenty-five public and private research universities and liberal arts colleges in the United State and the United Kingdom. The results, published in 2021, reveal that educators overwhelmingly value the complex critical thinking and evaluation skills that can be realized when working with primary sources.
Six Concepts of Primary Source Literacy
The Guidelines for Primary Source Literacy (ACRL/RBMS-SAA, 2018) identify six core concepts to support successful work with primary sources:
- Analytical Concepts — The nature of primary sources requires researchers to engage with them analytically. Users activate primary sources through hypothesis, analysis, synthesis, interpretation, critical thinking, and evaluation; they use sources to develop both questions and arguments. Primary source analysis requires the interrogation of materiality, historical context, and narrative.
- Ethical Concepts — Users need to understand the ethical concepts related to applicable laws and regulations, privacy rights, cultural context, donor agreements, copyright, and intellectual property when working with primary sources.
- Theoretical Concepts — Ideas such as evidence, authority, power, authenticity, context, materiality, historical empathy, agency, value, absences, and privilege underpin the collection, arrangement, and presentation of primary sources.
- Practical Considerations — There are practical considerations particular to using primary sources that users should be aware of. Practical skills necessary for primary source research include finding, accessing, gathering, and handling primary sources in a variety of formats and locations.
Engaging Students with Primary Sources (Smithsonian National Museum of American History)
Teaching with Primary Sources Collective
Teaching with Primary Sources Partner Program (Library of Congress)
The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) defines visual literacy as “a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media. Visual literacy skills equip a learner to understand and analyze the contextual, cultural, ethical, aesthetic, intellectual, and technical components involved in the production and use of visual materials. A visually literate individual is both a critical consumer of visual media and a competent contributor to a body of shared knowledge and culture.”
Benefits of Visual Literacy
Visual literacy is an essential learning method to enhance one’s critical thinking. The Generation Z students currently in higher education, and the Generation Alpha who will follow, are immersed in visual technology and often see the world through images, videos, illustrations, infographics, or maps. They are naturally visual learners, but sometimes lack the skills to fully realize critical thinking that is based in analysis and observing connections between information and concepts. Once students are able to more closely observe, critically examine, and interpret visuals, they may begin to understand the full context and content of a topic, see the “big picture,” and think in more creative and open-minded ways
Four Concepts of Visual Literacy
The Framework for Visual Literacy in Higher Education (ACRL, 2022) is a companion to the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education and identifies four core visual literacy concepts:
- Learners participate in a changing visual information landscape — The life cycles of visual materials are continually being altered by evolving technology, practices, and techniques. At the same time, content creators and users add layers of subjective meaning to images.
- Learners perceive visuals as communicating information — Visual images transmit messages that convey a host of contexts. Those receiving visuals will need to analyze and interpret the various elements of communication.
- Learners practice visual discernment and criticality.
- Learners pursue social justice through visual practice.
The American Library Association’s Office of Information Technology Policy defines digital literacy as “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.”
Benefits of Digital Literacy
Generation Z students (born between 1997 and 2013), and the succeeding Generation Alpha (born 2013 to 2025), are coming of age in a world that sees nearly universal use of digital technology, extensive internet access, and constantly evolving smartphone applications. Often known as "digital natives," they have needs, preferences, and expectations not expressed by earlier generations. Digital literacy will create new user experiences for these generations and allow them to reach their academic and professional goals. Digital literacy skills foster critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving in every academic discipline. The ability to use content-creation tools allows for a deeper engagement with course content, for a better grasp of information, and for the ability to communicate knowledge visually and digitally.
Concepts of Digital Literacy
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (“Virginia Tech”) Libraries has developed a Digital Literacy Framework that establishes seven core competencies:
- Identity & Wellbeing
- Creation & Scholarship
- Communication & Collaboration
CC-BY Julia Feerrar and Kelsey Hammer (2020).
Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy (Teacher’s Tech Corner)
Digital Literacy (American Library Association)
Digital Literacy (State Library of Kansas)
Duri Long and Brian Magerko, Georgia Institute of Technology, have defined artificial intelligence literacy as “a set of competencies that enables individuals to critically evaluate AI literacy; communicate and collaborate effectively with AI; and use AI as a tool online, at home, and in the workplace.”
Benefits of Artificial Intelligence Literacy
According to Forbes Magazine, the market for artificial intelligence (AI) applications is expected to reach 190 billion by 2025. Human beings interact with AI on a daily basis, and the new technology has seen use in nearly every industry such as business, science, art, and education. AI literacy complements information literacy, data literacy, digital literacy, open access, and research data management. As AI writing generators become more prevalent, AI literacy will grow increasingly essential for students so that they may fully appreciate the technology’s capabilities, usability, and drawbacks, and the corresponding ethics.
Concepts of Artificial Intelligence Literacy
Artificial intelligence literacy is a fledging field of study, so no national organization has as of yet published a recognized set of concepts. In the interim, Long and Magerko (2020) have developed a conceptual framework that defines eight core competencies for AI literacy programs.
- Recognizing AI
- Understanding Intelligence
- General vs. Narrow
- AI’s Strengths & Weaknesses
- Imagine Future AI
Artificial Intelligence (EDUCAUSE)
Artificial Intelligence (AI) (University of Maryland Teaching & Learning Transformation Center)
Artificial Intelligence in Education (UNESCO)
Artificial Intelligence Writing (University of Central Florida)
Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights (White House)