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Student Learning & Engagement @ UCF Libraries

a brief history of department and the Information Literacy Modules project

Quality Enhancement Plan

Information Literacy vs. Information Fluency

UCF's 2006 QEP describes literacy as "the ability to use information to achieve one's goals and to develop one's knowledge and potential," whereas fluency is described as "the ability to create, compose, produce, and perform with information" (What if?, 2006, p.3).

Three Initiatives

The QEP outlines three factors at the university that will be used to develop students’ information fluency and improve student and faculty engagement in the process. These factors are environment, enhancement, and engagement; the library would be most intimately involved in enhancement (What if?, 2006, p. 4).

The documents below provide details about projects planned as part of the QEP.

Defining Information Fluency

At the 2005 Summer Faculty Development Conference, the information fluency team--comprised of teaching and library faculty and other professional participants--generated a working definition of information fluency for UCF: “the ability to perform effectively in an information-rich and technology-intensive environment,” or more simply: “the ability to ‘gather, evaluate and use information'” (What if?, 2006, p. 13).  In determining how information fluency would work at UCF, the team further described information fluency from three perspectives: an integrated set of skills that students would learn, a teaching method for how students would learn, and a critique of what students will learn (What if?, 2006, p. 13). 

Three factors would be used to develop students' information fluency skills and improve faculty and student engagement in the program.  These factors are environment, enhancement, and engagement; the library would be most intimately involved in enhancement.  These enhancement factors were initiatives or programs that directly enabled learning of information fluency skills, including the development of online information and technology literacy learning modules, among other programs (What if?, 2006, p. 4).

Achieving Information Fluency

There does not seem to be any definitive research identifying a "fail-safe" approach to achieving information fluency, but an evaluation of the information fluency work of 47 colleges and universities and ten non-profit organizations--both domestic and international--allowed the QEP team to compile some best practices.  Seven criteria were evaluated, including:

  • information literacy skills
  • critical thinking skills
  • media literacy
  • faculty development
  • student learning outcomes
  • assessment
  • information fluency

Four institutions met all seven criteria: California Polytechnic State University (CA), Manchester Metropolitan University (UK), Philadelphia University (PA), and Queensland University of Technology in Australia.  These four programs were studied closely for best practices that could be applied to UCF (What if?, 2006, p. 10-11).

Using what was learned, the QEP team identified three general practices for UCF:

  • “Structuring a sequenced program where skills are introduced in lower division courses and then become increasingly complex as students progress through their major course of study
  • Adopting a flexible structure with broadly defined learning outcomes that can be refined to suit disciplinary need
  • Encouraging partnerships among the university departments and units with competitive grants for larger projects and funding for smaller projects” (What if?, 2006, p. 12).

Three separate information fluency plans were proposed--a hybrid of all three plans was ultimately chosen.  The plan would combine curricular and co-curricular programs and create a resource group to provide support for large projects.  Small projects would be developed to build an environment within the university that could support the QEP.

With the knowledge that creating a culture of information fluency would be a long-term project, the QEP team decided that faculty and staff would need to be empowered to deliver information fluency content in their courses.  To do this, a subset of activities and initiatives would be developed, including environmental, enhancement, and engagement initiatives, all of which would form the QEP and focus efforts on creating the foundation of information fluency within the University of Central Florida.

Objectives & Goals

The information fluent student should be able to:

  • determine the nature and extent of the information that is needed
  • access the information effectively and efficiently
  • evaluate information and its sources critically and incorporate selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system
  • use information to accomplish a specific purpose
  • understand many of the economic, legal, ethical, and social issues surrounding the use of information
    (Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education - ACRL, 2000).

The QEP committee also created five management goals for the QEP that support the student learning outcomes listed above.  These are:

  • Goal #1: Build information fluency programs slowly with both large and small projects that will continuously be assessed for viability, adaptability, and sustainability.
  • Goal #2: Choose student learning outcomes from the Association of College and Research Libraries literacy standards that best fit the missions of the university's degree programs, co-curricular programs, and students' professional and career needs.
  • Goal #3: Include information fluency best practices in faculty development, specifically the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning's Summer and Winter Faculty Development Conferences and Course Development & Web Services' online teaching support.
  • Goal #4: Increase communication and collaboration among academic, library, and student development units.
  • Goal #5: Align QEP assessment practices with professional accreditation, program assessment, and state-required Academic Learning Compacts of critical thinking and communication.

The committee’s intent was that through these outcomes and goals, students would attain information fluency and continue on toward information fluency (What if?, 2006, p. 3).