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Information Literacy: Teaching & Learning: Learning Activities

Learning Activity #1: Citation Mapping

Learning Objective: Students will be able to understand citation mapping in order to evaluate the impact of a work (and find more info on the topic).


Have students select a seminal work on a topic, and then identify sources that preceded and continued the conversation, analyzing the impact of the seminal work on the field.

Learning Activity #2: Conversation

Have students imagine themselves in conversation with the author(s) of their assigned reading

  • What questions would the students like to pose to the author(s)?
  • In turn, what questions would the author(s) ask them?

This exercise can also be used for a conversation with an artist about a work of art, a composer about a piece of music, etc.

Learning Activity #3: Information Cycle

"Scholarship is discursive practice in which ideas are formulated, debated, and weighed against one another over extended periods of time. Instead of seeking discrete answers to complex problems, scholars understand that a given issue may be characterized by several competing perspectives."


  • Have students view the video above
  • Some possible follow-up activities
    • Assign students to conduct a similar investigation of a particular topic from its treatment in social / popular media, and then trace its development in conversations among scholars, authors, researchers, film-makers, etc.
    • Provide students with a list of 3-5 sources from different perspectives that shape the conversation surrounding a topic of interest (for example: a news article, a tweet from a reputable source, a scholarly article & a literature review).


      Ask students to reflect on the following:

      • What perspectives are presented? 

      • Who has the strongest voice in this conversation? Why?

      • How would you involve yourself in this conversation?


    • Ask students to conduct an investigation of a particular topic from its treatment in the popular media, and then trace its origin in conversations among scholars and researchers. How have perspectives changed and why? 

Activity #3: Self-Assessment

Ask students to reflect on one or more of the following dispositions:

Learners who are developing their information literate abilities

  • recognize they are often entering into an ongoing scholarly conversation and not a finished conversation;
  • seek out conversations taking place in their research area;
  • see themselves as contributors to scholarship rather than only consumers of it;
  • recognize that scholarly conversations take place in various venues;
  • suspend judgment on the value of a particular piece of scholarship until the larger context for the scholarly conversation is better understood;
  • understand the responsibility that comes with entering the conversation through participatory channels;
  • value user-generated content and evaluate contributions made by others;
  • recognize that systems privilege authorities and that not having a fluency in the language and process of a discipline disempowers their ability to participate and engage.

Additional Learning Activities

  • Give students in professional or career-focused programs assignments that examine how practice and/or procedures evolve over time. Ask them to consider how the profession shares information.
  • Have students create a timeline to track the evolving threads of a continuing scholarly conversation.
  • Select a topic on which students have some knowledge or experience. Identify a venue (blog, discussion forum, other social media site) in which a scholarly  conversation is taking place. Ask students to:
    • Identify key players and their perspectives.
    • Compare a related scholarly article by one of the players to the online conversation.
    • Consider how to involve themselves in the conversation.

Some Learning Objectives

  • Students will examine the bibliography, footnotes, and references section of sources they find to locate additional sources of information.
  • Recognize the metaphor of “conversation” to describe the purpose of research
  • Identify the contribution of specific scholarly pieces and varying perspectives to a disciplinary knowledge “conversation”
  • Contribute to the scholarly conversation at an appropriate level, through the lens of becoming a creator/critic
  • Students will be able to understand citation chaining in order to evaluate the impact of a work (and find more info on the topic).
  • Students will understand how to understand and analyze a scholarly peer-reviewed article and identify and understand all the parts of the article


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