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Information Literacy: SUNY Gen Ed Information Literacy

Guidance for Information Literacy Gen Ed

Many classes at Cobleskill already includ discipline-specific informaiton literacy content. This guide provides additional ideas for integrating and assessing the SUNY Information Literacy Gen Ed competency in your courses. If you would like additional information literacy support such as tailored instruction or out-of-class meetings with students, reach out to a librarian at

We often see students struggle with core information literacy skills, such as: 

  • Navigating information environments to locate sources appropriate to a given task
  • Understanding publication processes and contextualizing a given source in a field
  • Evaluating and verifying information
  • Integrating sources into their own work while acknowledging intellectual property of the originals
  • Committing to the iterative and imperfect process of conducting meaningful research

SUNY Gen Ed Information Literacy Competency

Students will

  • locate information effectively using tools appropriate to their need and discipline;
  • evaluate information with an awareness of authority, validity, and bias; and
  • demonstrate an understanding of the ethical dimensions of information use, creation, and dissemination.


Students need to acquire information literacy appropriate to the demands of the 21st century citizen, and campuses must have flexibility to implement and assess these learning outcomes across a diverse range of academic programs. 

The Information Literacy core competency is not necessarily associated with any one course, though the student learning outcomes may be required in one or more specific courses. In either case, campuses must ensure that the required learning outcomes are included in each undergraduate degree curriculum.

SUNY General Education Framework

Outcome 1: Locate Information effectively using tools appropriate to need and discipline

Students locate and access information appropriate for professionals in their discipline.

Include in assignment: 

  • Specific expectations for source types; example sources
  • A rubric to assess source quality and apporpriateness, not just citaiton quality
  • Define terminology such as "scholarly" and "peer reviewed"

Sample instructional activities:  

  • Explore different source types (journals, magazines, reference sources, news, data, etc.) and publications particular to your discipline. Discuss value or utility of each.
  • Discuss markers of authority (author's credentials or prior publications, journal publication process, institutional affiliations) and necessity to evaluate sources beyond these markers.
    • Have students read and respond to a widely-respected source from your field
    • Locate an additional source using the references in the original article and evaluate how it builds on prior work
  • Have students perform the same search in different platforms and evaluate results
  • Start with a popular source such as a podcast or brief news article and have students locate background information from that source in wikipedia or on the library website.


  • Evaluate sources selected separately from other elements of assignment (such as written communication or citation skills). 

Outcome 2: Evaluate information with an awareness of authority, validity, and bias

Students critically evaluate sources to determine quality of information and authority or relevance of the source within the context of their discipline. 

Include in assignment:

  • Describe markers of authority specific to your field (credentials, institutional affilitation, journal publication process, etc.)
  • Create or modify an annotated bibliography in which students describe source evaluation decisions

Sample instructional activities: 

  • Evaluate list of contributors to a Peer Reviewed article, locate other publications by same authors 
  • Distribute a previously well-respected but currently controversial publication and an article that critiques it. Discuss scholarly conversation
  • Analyze the contributors or editorial board of a scholarly journal with regards to diversity 
  • Provide various sources about the same topic and have students read and evaluate them for homework. In class, discuss metrics for evaluation and provide a structure (purpose, audience, publication type, publication conventions, other considerations)


  • Rubric evaluating choice of sources for authority, validity, and bias 

Outcome 3: Demonstrate an understanding of ethical dimensions of information use, creation, and dissemination

Include in assignment:

  • Citation style information or guides relevant to discipline 

Sample Instructional Activites:

  • Teach conventions for source integration, direct quotation, in-text citation and reference citation in a style relevant to your field
  • Give students a source synthesis matrix to help conceptulize process of putting sources in conversation with each other
  • Articulate legal, ethical, economic and social issues around creation and use of information 
  • Explore quotation on a social media platform (such as TikTok duets) and contrast to conventions in academic writing
  • Judge how information producers’ motivations impact how the information is displayed or created 
  • Model crediting other authors and image sources in course material


  • Evaluate citation style formatting and source integration in written work

Adapted from SUNY Gen Ed guidance developed by Claire Ehrlich and Jocelyn Ireland of Mohawk Valley Community College (2022) and Lisa Hoff and Michelle Malinovsky of Onandaga Community College (2022).