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Information Literacy Standards for CUNY Students

Published November, 2010

The Library Information Literacy Advisory Council has put forward a set of information literacy learning goals and objectives for CUNY students to achieve by the time they have completed 60 credits. The purpose is to ensure that our efforts at information literacy fully articulate within CUNY. These learning objectives have been approved and endorsed by the CUNY University Librarian and the CUNY Council of Chief Librarians, who agree to work with campus leaders, faculty and administrators to ensure that the learning objectives are met.

Learning Goals Summary

The Learning Goals for every CUNY student with 60 credits includes:

  1. How information in various formats is organized and how to locate it;
  2. How to define and refine a topic and how to search for information related to that topic;
  3. How to evaluate information and its sources;
  4. How to use information responsibly.

Learning Objectives Detail

The specific objectives/outcomes relating to each of these broad learning goals are described below.

How information in various formats is organized and how to locate it.

  1. Students will be able select and search the appropriate database or information source based on their specific information need.
  2. Students will use their understanding of where and how information originates.( i.e., information sources — government, news media, social networking sources, and the scholarly communication cycle) during the research process to guide their selection of relevant and appropriate sources.
  3. Students will find and navigate appropriate resources in print and online. (Including the free Web, online library catalogs and subscription databases)
  4. Students will differentiate between scholarly, popular and trade publications and use the various types of literature appropriately.

How to define and refine a topic and how to search for information related to that topic.

  1. Students will translate research questions into search statements by identifying key vocabulary terms, concepts and synonyms.
  2. Students will determine whether a research topic is too broad or too narrow, given the guidelines for the assignment, and be proactive searchers by responding to results and revising or refining their searches.
  3. Students will formulate effective search statements using tools such as keywords, subject headings and Boolean operators.

How to evaluate information and its sources.

  1. Students will distinguish between types of information sources and demonstrate through their choices that not all information sources are appropriate for all purposes.
  2. Students will apply basic evaluation criteria to Web sites and demonstrate an understanding of why information found on Web sites needs careful evaluation.
  3. Students will critically evaluate information for usefulness, objectivity and bias, currency and authority and demonstrate the benefits of examining diverse opinions and points-of-view.

How to use information responsibly.

  1. Students will demonstrate their understanding of ethical, legal and social issues surrounding plagiarism, copyright and intellectual property and apply principles of academic integrity in their use of information.
  2. Students will identify the elements that go into a citation and create a correct citation using an online or print style manual for guidance.
  3. Students will quote, paraphrase and attribute ideas correctly.


Derived from the Council of Chief Librarians White Paper on Information Literacy (CUNY, April 2001).

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