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Embedding research skills: Embedding information literacy

This guide provides some discipline-specific examples of how academic research skills can be embedded in subjects & courses

Where to start

  1. Contact your liaison librarian. Your librarian can present workshops and tutorials that build students’ information literacy skills, and they can help you develop assignments and other learning activities.
  2. Invite your librarian to School or committee meetings to discuss embedding information literacy across a course or within an individual subject.
  3. Get some ideas from case studies from your discipline.

Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice

The Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice is a bi-annual, peer-reviewed journal publishing papers that add significantly to the body of knowledge describing effective and innovative teaching and learning practice in the higher education environment.

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Models for teaching information literacy skills

Embedding information literacy outcomes into your course or subject may be easier than you think. Often, small changes to your existing assignments will highlight information literacy components that were already present.

  1. Embedded: The best way to impart information literacy is to embed it into the curriculum to be delivered, assessed and evaluated by academic and library staff in partnership.
    Positives: Skills are incorporated into real-world and discipline specific contexts.
    Negatives: May require some changes to the curriculum and assignments.
  2. Integrated: A less effective way to impart information literacy is to align it with the curriculum and deliver it in consultation with academics, but not as an integral part of the teaching content and assessment.
    Positives: requires less work for the academic and is more flexible.
    Negatives: Unless it is assessed, student participation and interest level is likely to be low.
  3. Supplemental: Generic classes or self-paced online tutorials with no direct relationship to a discipline and no assessment.
    Positives: Students can gain skills at their own speed and when they feel the need.
    Negatives: Elective courses are usually not well attended since they are not required for credit and skills are not discipline-specific.


Tips for embedding information literacy skills into a subject or course.

  1. Decide what is meant by information literacy in the context of your discipline.
  2. Remember that students develop skills best when they are directly linked to the learning outcomes of the course.
  3. Tell students explicitly when, how and why information literacy skills are being developed and assessed.
  4. Give students time to reflect on and practice developing their skills.
  5. Assess the development of information literacy skills and give students timely and meaningful feedback on their progress.

Adapted from: UNSW Learning and Teaching Unit. (2006). Developing and assessing students' information literacy skills

Information literacy books

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