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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Information Literacy Toolkit

Library Services offers assignments, activities, and tutorials to modify and use with your classes. We organized the materials using our educational competencies and student learning outcomes.

We can customize these materials for specific classes.  

Unless noted, these materials are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

We also offer library workshops provided by our excellent team of librarians.

  Introductory Intermediate Advanced
 1.a   Identify various forms of study, physical information sources, and technology use Choose among various forms of study, physical information sources, and technology use in the library Propose improvements to library services in terms of studying, access to physical information sources, and using technology in the library
 1.b  Match information needs to information types Match information needs to information types in the discipline Adapt to emerging information processes and formats in a particular discipline
 1.c Identify challenges (finding "perfect source," fake news, confirmation bias) when interacting with information Apply strategies to resolve or minimize information challenges Demonstrate persistence, adaptability, and reflection while interacting with information
 1.d Identify various sources of research help (e.g. library and classroom faculty, library staff, peers, class & subject guides) Use various sources of research help (e.g. library and classroom faculty, library staff, peers, class & subject guides, etc.) Use various sources of research expertise (subject experts, subject librarians, etc.)
  Introductory Intermediate Advanced
 2.a   Identify gaps in their knowledge base Identify gaps in their disciplinary knowledge base Identify gaps in a discipline's body of knowledge
 2.b  Define the topic Define the topic within the context of discipline Develop an original research question that contributes to the body of knowledge in the field
 2.c Identify search words related to topic Identify discipline-specific search words related to topic Break down complex research questions to help facilitate searching
 2.d Revise search words (i.e. narrow/broaden) for an appropriate research scope Revise discipline-specific search words for an appropriate research scope Revise research question(s) to manage an appropriate research scope
  Introductory Intermediate Advanced
 3.a   Utilize the library website to access information Utilize the library website to access academic research Utilize the library website to access academic research in a discipline
 3.b  Conduct basic keyword searches using search filters Apply different types of searching (e.g., controlled vocabulary, keyword, natural language, search filters, etc.) Use appropriate search techniques for the task/search tool
 3.c Identify known sources online or physically from MSU collections Access sources online or physically from MSU collections Access sources outside of MSU collections (e.g. Interlibrary Loan, Google Books, Open Access Materials, etc.)
 3.d Recognize citations can be used to find additional sources Interpret and use citations to find additional sources Critique quality of citations used in a source
 3.e     Use current awareness technologies (e.g. apps, social media, blogs) to stay informed with research
 3.f Choose a strategy for keeping track of gathered information Use a citation management system (e.g. RefWorks) Adopt data management practices
 3.g Identify the need for specialized information (via travel, collecting original data, etc.) Determine whether to gather specialized information Develop strategy to gather specialized information
  Introductory Intermediate Advanced
 4.a   Differentiate between scholarly (research-based) and popular (informational, summary, or opinion-based) sources Identify peer-reviewed research Critique the peer-review process and the use of grey literature
 4.b  Apply evaluation criteria such as currency, authority, bias, level, & exploration (i.e. CABLE/s) Compare/contrast sources (including scholarly articles) using evaluation criteria such as currency, authority, bias, level, & exploration (i.e. CABLE/s) Evaluate quality of research (including argument, methods, findings, and analysis) within studies
 4.c Select sources based on relevance to topic and assignment Select sources that best meet an information need based on the audience, context, and purpose of various formats Select sources that best explain the research question(s) and impact in the discipline
  Introductory Intermediate Advanced
 5.a   Define plagiarism and academic honesty Explain Ethical and legal considerations (such as academic honesty, IRB, and copyright) specific to discipline Demonstrate ethical and legal considerations of attribution, academic honesty, IRB, and copyright (including basic knowledge of fair use, open access, and the public domain)
 5.b  Describe how citations relate to academic honesty (i.e. why do we cite?)    
 5.c Identify multiple sources and/or perspectives to support an argument Select appropriate information to sythesize from multiple sources and/or perspectives Propose need for new knowledge based on multiple sources and perspectives
 5.d Cite sources accurately and consistently using appropriate citation style Cite sources accurately and consistently using a discipline-specific citation style  
 5.e Observe use of knowledge in scholarly conversations Use knowledge to participate in scholarly conversations Identify opportunities to share findings (social media, open access journals, etc.)

Achievement in each competency is outlined by incremental learning outcomes for students from first year through graduate courses. Progressing via the learning outcomes is multidimensional.  The chart below shows learning benchmarks:

  • At the introductoryintermediate, and advanced levels to determine competency in general 
    –or-
  • Shaded cells that represent demonstrated competency in:
    • First year and general education courses
    • Lower level undergraduate disciplinary courses
    • Upper level undergraduate and graduate disciplinary courses
Level Introductory Intermediate Advanced
Students in... First year and general education courses Lower level undergraduate disciplinary courses Upper level undergraduate and graduate disciplinary courses

These benchmarked outcomes are fluid and modifiable.  

  • Depending on course and/or program, it may be more suitable to benchmark student progress at a different level than suggested by the chart. 
  • Other information skills may not be represented in our general program competencies.  
  • We hope these competencies do not hinder librarians and course instructors with their program collaborations, but provide a starting point to teach any information skills needed to successfully complete a course or program.  

Creative Commons License
These competencies and student learning outcomes are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Adapted from

Information Literacy Core Competencies by Grand Valley State University Libraries, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and its derivative by Bethel University Libraries. This document is also informed by the ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher EducationSMU Libraries Information Literacy Program, and USC Libraries Information Literacy Outcomes for Undergraduates.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.