Social and Political Dimensions

of Information Literacy

Readings and Research Skills


by Todd Heldt

A Sample Weekly Schedule

One Credit Course Outline

Class 1 : Our class session will be spent touring the library, looking at our webpage, reviewing the syllabus, and taking the pre-course assessment. We will also look at The Information Literacy Tutorial. You will need to set up a temporary registration to access the site. Some of the concepts are pretty basic and might seem kind of funny, but it establishes a good baseline of understanding for the rest of the course.

Skill Focus: Authority, Credibility and Timeliness

Homework due Next Class: Read Module Three’s Research Skills: “The Information Life Cycle,” “Understanding Authority” and “A Usable Source Rubric.”


Class 2: Today we will talk about the online public access catalog (OPAC) and how call numbers work. Then we will have a scavenger hunt.

Skill Focus: Using Books for Research

Homework due Next Class:  Read Module Three’s Research Skills: “Searching in Databases” and Module Two’s Research Skills: “Research Questions and Thesis Statements.”


Class 3: Today we will review the library homepage and the databases.

Skill Focus: Search Strategies, Boolean logic, and simple database searches.

Homework due Next Class: HEAVY READING ALERT! Read Module Two “Introduction to Epistemology,” “The Impact of Heuristics and Cognitive Biases on Information,” “The Impact of Culture on Information,” and “The Impact of Psychology and Biology on Information” and Answer the Critical Thinking Questions. This is a lot of reading, but you have a week to do it. Plan appropriately!


Class 4:  Discussion of the reading. Reviewing the Usable Source Rubric and getting started on a research task.

Skill Focus: Understanding Your Assignment, Figuring Out What You Already Know, and Narrowing Your Topic.


Class 5:  Keeping track of your research.

Skill Focus: Organizing Information and Automatic Alerts.

Homework due Next Class: HEAVY READING ALERT! Read Module FourInformation and the State” and “Industry and Information.”


Class 6: In class discussion of the readings.

Skill Focus: Tools for Critically Evaluating Information and Avoiding Information Malpractice

Homework due Next Class:  Read Module Four “Influence Brokers” and Answer the Critical Thinking Questions.


Class 7:  Discussion of the readings.

Skill Focus: Boolean Operators, Search Strategies , and Searching in the Databases Revisited.

Homework due Next Class:  Enjoy your week and think productively about information.


Class 8: From research question to research to paper. The research process in Ten Steps.

Skill Focus: Turning a research question into a research paper.

Homework due Next Class: HEAVY READING ALERT! Read Module FivePolitical Aspects of the Internet” and “Internet Searching–Exploring Limitations of Design and Content” and Answer the Critical Thinking Questions.


Class 9: Discuss the Readings.

Skills Focus: Summarizing, Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Citing.

Homework due Next Class:  Review a research paper assignment for one of your other classes. Apply the Research Skills from Module One. Show me your work.


Class 10: Talk about the class so far. Think/Pair Share with classmates about what you have learned and what is unclear.

Skill Focus: Review of the Class so far, What have we learned and what is still confusing.

Homework due Next Class: Review a research paper assignment for one of your other classes. Apply the Research Skills from Module Two. Show me your work. Also, test your biases (whichever you feel might be most applicable to your research) using the Harvard Implicit Bias checker. You do not need to share your findings with anyone; just be aware of them and how they might impact your research.


Class 11:  Review of the research process from start to finish.

Skill Focus: All of them!


Class 12:  I will greet you warmly with coffee.


Homework due Next Class:   Research Paper Outline.


Class 13: Discussion of Group Presentations

Skill Focus: Divvying up tasks.

Homework due Next Class:  Independent research on group presentations.


Class 14: Work on Group Presentations


Homework due Next Class:  Independent research on group presentations.


Class 15: Presentations


Class 16:  Presentations


If you are wondering what this is all about, start here.  You will learn generally about the field of information literacy, the layout of this text, and begin thinking about the critical tools you will need to develop in order to become a savvy consumer and producer of information.  Start here.

Course Materials Overview

Though this is a library course, the materials on this site delve into disciplines as disparate as psychology, history, biology, epistemology, political science, and economics.  Each field demonstrates a different aspect of information and helps us learn both how and why information is created, shared, and understood.   Overview.

Module 1: A Very Brief History of Information

The contemporary information landscape is as bewildering as it is immense.  In order to understand where we are, it is useful to look at where we have been and how we got here in the first place.  This chapter discusses the history of libraries and printing, and introduces students to the concepts of information ownership, Top Down and Bottom Up information, and information within cultural systems.

Read this Module

Module 2: The Consumption of Information

People are inundated by information every waking moment. This module looks at how people process all of it.  This module will introduce you to epistemology, heuristics, cognitive biases, psychology, and more.

Read This Module

Module 3: Politics and the Legal Landscape of Information

The legal landscape of information is a confusing sprawl of laws, statutes, and agreements at both the state and federal level.  Adding to the confusion is that the interpretation of those codes is often influenced by partisan politics. This module looks at laws regarding information and the politicization of information in the United States.  

Read this Module

Module 4: The Production of Information

As difficult as it is to get people to understand their own internal biases and presets, the endeavor of information literacy is made even more complicated  by various actors and features of the terrain that make it difficult to access and interpret information.  This module explores different information complications and offers real life examples of each.  

Read this Module

Module 5: Information Online

Because of the ubiquity and reach of internet search engines, online research can seem simple and quick. But researchers often neglect the most important part of the process, which is determining credibility, authority, and usability. This chapter discusses political and economic aspects of the internet and cautions about some pitfalls of internet research to avoid.

Read this Module 

Module 6: Organizing Information

We are subjected to more new information each day than any prior generation of people on earth.  In order to avoid information overload, it is imperative that people develop methods to manage and organize information. This chapter offers a guide for the creation of a rudimentary information management system.

Read this Module 

Research Skills

Here is a concise list of the information literacy research skills explored in this text. These readings are intended to guide research and thinking about research before and during the research process. 

Research Skills  

Annotated Bibliography

Research for this resource spanned multiple disciplines.  For a review of sources consulted and quoted, please visit my Annotated Bibliography.

Related Readings
Articles, activities, and lesson plans will be posted here with descriptive tags.


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