Information Literacy

Why do I need to know about Information Literacy?

You need to know about it because you are probably spending far too long staring at your assignment titles with horror, not knowing where to start. You need to be information literate because you probably waste hours Googling your topic, and you get no results, or worse, millions!

What is Information Literacy?

Information lieracy is the ability to know when you need information, how to get information, and how to evaluate and organize that information effectively. For example, most people know how to search Google to find information, but the infomation literate person would search it properly, and get proper results, knowing which websites are irrelevant.

An information literate person spends less time online and in libraries trying to find information. Instead they have a search strategy that is planned and organized, and they get results faster.

Information literacy is a lifelong skill, it is a skill you will take with you after college. What if in the workplace, you needed to research a topic, and produce a report. What if at home you needed to find information on your social welfare benefits or on healthcare? These pages will help you become more information literate.

Assignment Types

So you have just been given an assignment by your tutor and you don't know where to begin.

The first steps in understanding your assignment is to ask yourself the following questions:

1. What type of document are you expected to produce ?

Are you supposed to write a book report, essay, business plan, business report or a presentation? Perhaps you don't have to write anything but are just researching a topic.

Find out all the details from your lecturer for example:

  • Look for example assignments from your lecturer, for example look for a layout of a business plan if you have to write one
  • How many words is the assignment?
  • What font margins and spacing etc. is to be used?
  • What referencing system are you expected to use?
  • Did your lecturer mention nay particular source of information?
  • Most important!!! When is the due date?

2. Understand the Question

If you have an essay title or a list of titles, it's important to really understand what is being asked of you. For example, consider the following titles:


Compare and contrast behaviourist and constructivist pedagogies and explain their place in the virtual classroom


  • Firstly, Underline yor key terms, Inthis case they are: | behaviourist | Constructivist | virtual classroom
  • Secondly, circle or highlight your verbs or doing words in this case they are: compare and contrast | explain
  • see an example

Compare and contrast behaviourist and constructivist pedagogies and explain their place in the virtual classroom

Different Essay Types

There are many different essay types, some are trickier to understand than others here is a short list of some different types:

  • Compare and Contrast Essay (example above)
  • General Essay- you may be asked to give a personal opinion on an article in today's paper for example
  • Book Review- you might be asked to create a book review. Please see UCLA's guide to writing academic book reviews here.
  • A business plan: help link