Encouraging students’ lifelong
learning through graded
information literacy assignments
Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, Canada
Purpose – The paper seeks to argue that one of the ways librarians and library information literacy
sessions can have a positive impact on students’ lifelong learning is to create and mark assignments.
Design/methodology/approach – If library information literacy sessions are to have a positive
impact on students’ lifelong learning, it is necessary to clearly deﬁne and delineate the term “lifelong
learning” into its three components of cognition, behavior and information seeking skills. The three
components are not linear, but intertwine. Multiple information literacy sessions must cognitively
engage students to realize they have a learning need.
Findings – Information literacy instruction librarians are often overwhelmed with requests for
50-minute one-shot library classes which have questionable results in regards to student learning.
Instead of having a marginal impact on thousands of students per year, information literacy librarians
should use their time and resources by creating graded assignments with multiple IL classes and
consider abandoning the 50-minute one-shot sessions. However, multiple IL sessions and marking
assignments will take time.
Originality/value – By creating graded assignments, information literacy instruction librarians
would have a close collaborative relationship with classroom faculty to reach perhaps fewer students
but have a greater impact on students’ information literacy and lifelong learning.
Keywords Lifelong learning, Information literacy, Students, Assignments
Paper type Conceptual paper
What is most important to us as librarians and information literacy instructors? The
professional information literacy competency standards are broad-based and complex. We
certainly do not expect to cover all ﬁve standards or have students become proﬁcient in them
within a 50-minute class session, but it may also be unrealistic to think a semester-long course
provides enough time. Should our priority be to create students who always choose the right
database and always cite their sources perfectly, or is it more important to have an impact on
the way students think about approaching and evaluating information sources? It may well
be that the broader view of information and a true commitment and interest in lifelong
learning will serve our students better in the long run (Scales and Lindsay, 2005, p. 521).
Many national library and librarian associations (American Library Association,
Canadian Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, etc.) state that
through information literacy they have a commitment to lifelong learning. Lifelong
learning is a very catchy and popular slogan these days, but is it an attainable ideal?
Can librarians, and speciﬁcally library information literacy sessions, have an impact on
lifelong learning? Can a 50-minute one-shot library information literacy session affect a
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Vol. 34 No. 4, 2006
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