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Information Literacy: A Conceptual Framework

Searching as Strategic Exploration

Video from the Univ. of Washington Libraries

 

Information searching is an exploratory process that involves ongoing evaluation and revision of strategies and research questions. (paraphrased)

 

 

 

 

From the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy:

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 act of searching often begins with a question that directs the act of finding needed information. Encompassing inquiry, discovery, and serendipity, searching identifies both possible relevant sources as well as the means to access those sources. Experts realize that information searching is a contextualized, complex experience that affects, and is affected by, the cognitive, affective, and social dimensions of the searcher. Novice learners may search a limited set of resources, while experts may search more broadly and deeply to determine the most appropriate information within the project scope. Likewise, novice learners tend to use few search strategies, while experts select from various search strategies, depending on the sources, scope, and context of the information need.

Assignment Ideas

  • Ask students to brainstorm possible sources that might have relevant information. What tools will they need to locate those resources?
     
  • Ask students to choose a topic, develop key search terms, and use two different search engines to locate information on their topic. Have them compare the results in terms of quantity, types of sources (e.g., government, educational, scholarly, and commercial), order/sequence of results, and relevance. Pair students who used the same search engine with different topics to compare results.
     
  • Ask students to write an I-Search paper, whereby they journal their searching processes, including key terms, tools used, and resources/results at each step. They should note how they evaluated their resources, and what information was extracted. Their journal should also reflect their feelings: success, concern, frustration, pride, etc. Pair up students, and ask them to read and comment on each other's journal, and then draw up conclusions and recommendations for their peers. 

- From Draft 2 of the ACRL Framework,p. 16

Questions about Your Discipline

  • What information tools/sources are of primary importance in your field?
     
  • What are typical search behaviors among your disciplinary colleagues?
     
  • How do the concepts of format, conversation, value, authority, and inquiry impact search processes?

From Miller, S. D. (2016, May 20). Information Literacy in the Disciplines. Workshop presented at Thinking with Sources in the Disciplines, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI.