An important element of both teaching and learning in today’s information age is information literacy -- the set of skills needed to find, access, retrieve, analyze, synthesize and use information effectively and ethically. A community college curriculum offers students an array of general education and workforce content through credit and noncredit coursework, continuing education and distributed education. Effective curricula offer both current and classic content across disciplines within a design that engages students, meets their learning needs, aids in student success in courses and retention in academic programs. Best practices in curriculum design and content include active learning techniques, a variety of formats that take learners beyond the textbook, the establishment of context, real life relevance, the integration of technology, meaningful assessment, and an integration of critical thinking that promotes the questioning and discussion of ideas. Classroom faculty should partner with library and learning resource center staff to form instructional teams to encourage information literacy outcomes in credit and noncredit instruction.
Information literacy, which encompasses information fluency and information technology mastery, is critical to success in higher education and lifelong learning. Rapid and continual changes in technology and the proliferation of information resources present students with an abundance of information through a variety of vetted and unvetted formats. This wide variety of choices raises questions about the reliability, authenticity, and validity of content and poses challenges for students trying to evaluate, understand, and apply the information. The Association of College and Research Libraries, in its Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, notes that information literacy is considered a key outcome by several regional and discipline-specific accreditation bodies because of its close ties to students’ competency with evaluating, managing, and using information.
Community college students must be information literate learners who can:
• Determine the extent of information needed
• Access needed information effectively and efficiently
• Evaluate information and its sources critically
• Incorporate selected information into their own knowledge base
• Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
• Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information
• Access and use information ethically.
Colleges should identify and provide personnel and resources appropriate for providing information literacy skills for all students.