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Information literacy: Helping freshmen make the connection

Youre writing a paper on William Shakespeare. You want the most recent information, so you go straight to the Internet, plug in the Google search engine, and there they are: more than 6 million sites that mention the Bard.

Time to order another pizza.

In the minds of many incoming freshman, research means checking whats readily available on Internet search engines, like Google and Yahoo, and thats it. Thats why information literacy is such an important component of the Academic Support Centers First-Year Experience Program.
You're writing a paper on William Shakespeare. You want the most recent information, so you go straight to the Internet, plug in the Google search engine, and there they are: more than 6 million sites that mention the Bard.

Time to order another pizza.

In the minds of many incoming freshman, research means checking what's readily available on Internet search engines, like Google and Yahoo, and that's it. That's why information literacy is such an important component of the Academic Support Center's First-Year Experience Program.

The program helps students make the transition from high school to college with a summer orientation program, freshman orientation and APSU 1000: Liberal Arts in the University, a freshman seminar that is mandatory for students with fewer than 12 hours of college credit. The seminar, which will be taught by faculty from all academic disciplines, is designed to help students develop the habits needed for academic success.

A dozen librarians will collaborate with faculty to teach the 51 sections of APSU 1000.

“We're all excited about the collaboration,” says Gina Garber, digital services librarian and instructor, who is teaching a section of the course herself. “I think sometimes students are afraid to ask for help in the library, so through these classes, they will meet a librarian and feel more comfortable asking questions.”

Students in APSU 1000 will learn skills associated with information literacy by checking out the Library Information Literacy Tutorial (LILT), a fun source of basic library information and quizzes. They also will learn how to use the library Web site (http://library.apsu.edu) and the physical library as gateways to academic information, how to use library databases effectively, how to select and evaluate sources appropriate for college-level work and how to cite sources in different styles, as well as paraphrase and avoid plagiarism.

“We want to encourage students doing research to go to the library's homepage first,” says Garber. “They tend to start with what they are comfortable with, like Google or Yahoo.”

In addition, APSU 1000 students will complete a library research and essay assignment. To make the assignment relevant for incoming students, they will be asked to choose a career field, research it, write an essay on their discoveries and compile a bibliography of their sources.

“Extreme relevancy is important to student motivation,” says Garber. “It's what transforms something from ‘busy work' to real learning.

“In this case the research assignment is relevant to this course in many ways. It is a tool for students who have undecided majors to begin thinking about what kind of career they want to pursue. For those who are already decided about a career path, they can learn more about their career choice.”

Library faculty will be available to meet with students individually to help them with the assignment, as needed. In addition, students will be introduced to the library's “Ask a Librarian” service, which invites people to ask questions in person, by phone, e-mail or live chat.

The information literacy learning outcomes adopted by APSU 1000 come from the Information Literacy Standards for Higher Education, which are endorsed by the American Association for Higher Education, the Council of Independent Colleges and the Association of College and Research Libraries.
—Rebecca Mackey