Iowa State Refreshes Longstanding Information Literacy Course | Academics


Parks Library photographed from its south face

Iowa State is updating the curriculum for its LIB (Library) 160 Information Literacy and Research Assessment course. The course aims to help students become familiar with the tools for college success and gain a basic understanding of the research process.

LIB 160 is a half-semester credit pass or fail course required for graduation. The course is one of the oldest in the state of Iowa, first taught to students over 130 years ago. Since then, the course has grown with the university and its technology.

After a successful pilot of the revamped course last fall, students have begun taking the course, with a manual developed in-house at Iowa State with a greater emphasis on student engagement.

“What we’ve done is we’ve changed some of the ways that certain modules are presented,” said Jeffrey Kushkowski, instruction and information coordinator at Parks Library. “We have fundamentally refreshed and modernized the course so that it better reflects what students need in terms of the ability to find, use and evaluate information.”

The course aims to lay the foundation for information literacy in all students. This foundation would enable students and scholars of all kinds to think critically about the information they consume.

“I think the biggest benefit of this approach is that it clarifies that the skills you learn in this course are transferable to other courses you’re in and other areas of your life,” said Kushkowski said.

Originally centered only on lectures, the course was refined in 1947 to include a printed course manual and some written assignments. In the 1970s the university briefly experimented with teaching through pre-recorded videos, and in the 1990s the university began developing interactive online courseware.

Today, LIB 160 is conducted entirely online, with most instruction coming from the textbook: “Library 160: Introduction to College Level Research”, which is offered as open source through Iowa State’s Digital Press. To help students become more engaged in the classroom, Iowa State is trying a hands-off approach that would allow professors to coordinate their classes and implement additional instruction as they see fit.

“There are instructors who do a week, they do a weekly video segment that talks about the concepts that are going to be covered in class that week,” Kushkowski said. “We have office hours opportunities, each of our instructors have office hours where they can meet with students.”

Ultimately, a more engaging and in-depth LIB 160 program creates a stronger foundation for students to build their own knowledgeable understandings. For course information, visit the Iowa State University website to view LIB 160 course guide.


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