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Teaching Resources for Information Literacy
Active Learning Exercises Assessment Web Site Evaluation
Analogies Library and Internet Humor Web Training Resources
Active Learning Exercises
Human Boolean Operators: Have students stand up. Designate one side of the classroom as the "search result side." Call out boolean statements based on things such as clothing and hair color. Students should rearrange themselves in the room according to the requirements of the statement.

Interactive Tour: Divide the class into several small groups, assigning each group to a location in the library. Provide each group with a list of previously devised questions and tell them to become experts in their areas. Set a time limit for the exploration and a place to reconvene the class. When the class reconvenes, take the entire class on a walking tour of the library. At each of the designated places, have the "expert" group tell the rest of the class about that spot.

Boff, Colleen. "Transforming Library Orientation Tours." LOEX News No. 3 (2000): 5, 11.

Introducing Article Indexes: This exercise builds conceptual understanding of online article indexes. Prior to class time, select print indexes which are relevant to the class. Begin the class by asking, "Who can tell me what an index is?" After determining what students already know, divide the class into groups. Provide a copy of the previously selected print indexes to each group. Give students 3-5 minutes to explore the indexes. Then give each group 1 minute to tell the rest of the class what they learned. After completeing this exercise, apply what students learned about the print indexes to online databases.

Smith Macklin, Alexius. "How to Make Collaborative and Cooperative Learning Techniques Work in the 50-Minute Instruction Session." LOEX News Vol. 27 (2000): 10, 14, 16.

Reflective Questions: At the end of a lecture ask students to write down answers to the following questions (you may wish to distribute index cards for this exercise).

  1. What is one thing you learned today that you will use for your next research assignment?
  2. What is the most important thing you learned today?
  3. What questions do you still have?

If possible, use the beginning of the next class period to answer questions submitted by the students.

Think-Pair-Share: At the conclusion of a short lecture, ask students a thought question related to the material just covered. Have students think individually for 1 minute, then ask them to share their thoughts with one person next to them for another minute. Finally, ask volunteers to report out to the entire class.


Some of the following analogies were gleaned from the BI-L ILI-L listservs. Others are our own!

  • According to, they index billions of web pages. So, using the simplifying assumptions that a web page is one print page long, that none of the web pages are duplicates of each other (these two assumptions balance each other out a bit), and that the average book is 300 pages long, you end up with Google indexing the equivalent of millions of volumes.
  • "Saying that you found it on the Internet is like saying you heard it on the telephone. Who was talking?" -- Unknown, shared on BI-L by Janice Patton
  • I'd like to offer the analogy of department store vs. garage sale. In a database, you have clearly stated signage (controlled vocabulary) in a reputable department store pointing you to desired and related merchandise and within the department, where items are kept in some sort of order. There are buyers that select quality merchandise from noted designers and vendors (periodical articles, almanacs, etc.) from which their customers can choose. On the flip side, at the garage sale (Web) you may find items grouped by category (subject guides - e.g., InfoSurf, Argus Clearinghouse, etc. and specialized search engines - e.g., FindLaw, Excite News Search) on the various tables, but the merchandise is more likely to be of varying quality at the garage sale: discards, bric-a-brac, and some useful gems if you pick through the stacks of stuff on the tables (general search engine results). -- Monica Norem
  • You drive the same road (the internet) to arrive at many different destinations -- the Little League ballpark or the Major League ballpark or the theater. The internet is the means of access to many types of information -- not all of which are created equal. The content of each 'destination' is unique and varies in reliability. -- Patti Brommelsiek
  • The World Wide Web is like public access TV. Anyone can create their own programs and there are few production standards. Online databases are like premium cable channals. The Library pays a lot for them, access is restricted, and the programming is higher quality. --Linda J. Goff
  • Doing research is like cooking a receipe: both are a processes that take time. One can't rush through a recipe and expect it to turn out great. The library is your grocery store where you collect the ingredients you need to make the recipe (what you select & put in your cart will dictate how the recipe turns out). A journal citation is one of the key ingredients to the recipe (class paper). Just as each aisle fo the grocery store contains different ingredients, each different resource in the library contains different information which may be useful. Aisle one may be the Library Catalog; aisle two might be an article index. One must know where things are located and what their uses are in order to successfully cook. --Jennifer Schmidt
  • Searching online databases is like using the telephone book. First, you must have the correct telephone book for the city in which the person or business you are looking for is located. You must use the correct database for your subject matter. If you know the item you are looking for you can search by title or author. This is like searching for the name of a person or business. If you are looking for businesses by category you use the yellow pages. This is like using descriptors or subject headings in a database. --Sabrina Pusey
  • Call numbers are like street addresses. For example, Ref. PN1564 .A21 1997 without the "Ref" is like having a street address without the city name. We know the shelf location, but th not the collection it is in. Without the PN, it is like knowing the city and house number, but not the street. Reinforce by asking students how many cities have a "620 Main Street?" --Laura Ewald
  • Database providers are like publishers. Publishers publish many books, each with a different title and content. Database providers, distribute many different databases, each with their own title and content. --Sabrina Pusey



James White Library Guidelines for Assessment: These guidelines are intended to assist librarians and teachers in assessing their students' information literacy skills.

Web Site Evaluation


  • Authority: The author should be identified. It is even better if a title or some other information about the author is also provided. You may want to look for information about the author in other locations. The author may be an individual or it may be an institution.
  • Institutional Support: The sponsoring institution or organization may or may not effect the quality of the information. It may provide the most authentic information available, or it can bias the information. In the case of many web pages on academic servers, the page is a professor's or student's personal page. In this case, the author's rather than the institution's credentials are more important.
  • URL: Study the web page's address. If you can recognize the sponsoring institution by its URL, you are probably on good ground. Some people put up sites that are meant to confuse the user. If the URL is long and complex, be suspicious. Look at the domain endings (.gov, .edu, .net, .com, .org). These can tell you something about the purpose of the information.
  • Currency: A date should be provided revealing when the information was posted on the web. This is especially important for time-sensitive information. If the page is old, the information may be out of date. Not everyone keeps their pages up-to-date.
  • Bias: You will need to look for clues that determine the purpose of the information. Read the content. And refer back to the URL. The domain ending offers clues (government, commercial, etc.)

Confusing URLs

Hoax and Misinformation Web Sites

Hoax and Scambusting Web Sites

Research Quality

Both of these sites meet all the criteria for a quality web site, but their value as sources for research is not equal. Which one is better? Why?

This site provides lots of information and looks very professional, but it lacks authority.

Updated June 5, 2018