Information Literacy in Psychology

A course-integrated approach

In January 2000, The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) published five Standards pertaining to the definition of an information literate student. The Standards have been adopted as guidelines at several institutions that are, like Salisbury University, beginning to construct campus-wide information literacy initiatives.

Middle States Commission (Standard 11) has mandated information literacy be integrated into the curriculum.

"Several skills, collectively referred to as "information literacy," apply to all disciplines in an institution’s curricula. These skills relate to a student’s competency in acquiring and processing information in the search for understanding, whether that information is sought in or through the facilities of a library, through practical, as a result of field experiments, by communications with experts in professional communities, or by other means. Therefore, information literacy is an essential component of any educational program at the graduate or undergraduate levels."

(p. 42, Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education, March 2009)

The Standards state:

1. The information literate student determines the nature and extent of the information needed.

2. The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently.

3. The information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system.

4. The information literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.

5. The information literate student understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses information ethically and legally.

Each Standard lists associated Performance Indicators and Outcomes. The full text of the Standards, Performance Indicators and Outcomes is available online at Created by: Mou Chakraborty & Stephanie Fridie, September 2010

APA recognizes ACRL’s Psychology specific outcomes as related to Information Literacy. (American Psychological Association. 2009 ) (Goal 6)

Assessment CyberGuide for Learning Goals & Outcomes in the Undergraduate Psychology Major. (

The Association of College and Research Libraries offers psychology-specific outcomes that include:

(a) developing a research plan,

(b) identifying keywords and related terms,

(c) carefully selecting terms relative to the database, and

(d) using appropriate commands (e.g., Boolean operators).

The full text of the Psychology Information Literacy Standards is available online at

Middle States Commission on Higher Education suggests that information literacy can be taught using different curriculum models. Blackwell Library would like to adopt the Integrated or Distributed Curriculum Model. Middle States Guidelines state: "One advantage of the distributed approach is that it places information literacy education in the context of the discipline, thereby deepening students’ understanding of the importance of information literacy within their chosen fields… The distributed approach also engages faculty members by making them partners in information literacy instruction and enabling them to blend information literacy with the discussion of other curriculum content.

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Blackwell Library proposes the following:

a) library research skills be integrated into different courses. Students will learn about basic library resources and services in the lower level courses, then gradually learn advanced search techniques and specialized databases in the upper level courses.

b) teaching faculty and library faculty develop agreed-upon assessments to gauge students’ command of information literacy precepts at each level within the major; and

c) ensure that the resulting work and collaborative efforts remain an integral component of the PSYC curriculum.

The skills and knowledge, courses in which they are taught, and assessment techniques will vary over time. Some suggested courses are:

PSYC 101 General Psychology

PSYC 220 Research Methods I

PSYC 304 Research Methods II

PSYC 490 Individual Directed Study. Students may study a topic of their choosing using observation, experimentation, or library research.

PSYC 497 Research in Psychology. The course requires a literature review.


Created by: Mou Chakraborty & Stephanie Fridie, September 2010