Information literacy modular training method

Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to 'recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information' (from Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, p.2).



Information literacy pictured as a spider in the literacy web. © Otis College of Art + Design, Los Angeles


The possibilities for obtaining and distributing information has increased dramatically in the academic world. As a result, one cannot expect students in such a complex and constantly changing information environment to be information literate without a systematic program of education that focuses on developing information literacy skills at different learning stages within the curriculum.

Experience teaches that within the field of information literacy, learning is most effective when it is related to a specific information need, preferably a discipline-specific information need. For example: collecting information for research training, for a thesis, bachelor's test, master’s thesis or research proposal.

For this reason, the University Library, in close collaboration with several faculty members, developed an information literacy modular training method. This modular training method consists of varying combinations of general and discipline-specific training and workshops that build on each other and that can be followed throughout the duration of one’s studies. The faculties have tried to couple these courses to their regular curriculum so that the acquired skills can be used immediately. 

Some concrete examples:

Get to know the University Library for sociology students (Dutch only)

Introduction to PubMed and PsycINFO for iBMG students (Dutch only)

'Search and find digitally' workshop for Media and Journalism master students


Students who have acquired information literacy skills following this training method will be able to

  • translate a problem statement for a literature (subject) research into a good search strategy;
  • get insight into the extensive supply of (electronic) information sources within a field of study;
  • employ efficient search techniques with the various information sources;
  • structure and archive the information they have found.

 In this way, students learn how to search for information and how to reflect critically on the found information during their studies; they are thereby prepared for a life of quickly changing information needs.

In this article (2002; Dutch only), the University Library discussed how it would like to arrange its information literacy instruction.