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Information Literacy: Searching as Strategic Exploration

Searching as Strategic Exploration - Variety of sources are consulted

From the Framework

Knowledge Practices

Learners who are developing their information literate abilities

  • determine the initial scope of the task required to meet their information needs;
  • identify interested parties, such as scholars, organizations, governments, and industries, who might produce information about a topic and then determine how to access that information;
  • utilize divergent (e.g., brainstorming) and convergent (e.g., selecting the best source) thinking when searching;
  • match information needs and search strategies to appropriate search tools;
  • design and refine needs and search strategies as necessary, based on search results;
  • understand how information systems (i.e., collections of recorded information) are organized in order to access relevant information;
  • use different types of searching language (e.g., controlled vocabulary, keywords, natural language) appropriately;
  • manage searching processes and results effectively.


Learners who are developing their information literate abilities

  • exhibit mental flexibility and creativity
  • understand that first attempts at searching do not always produce adequate results
  • realize that information sources vary greatly in content and format and have varying relevance and value, depending on the needs and nature of the search
  • seek guidance from experts, such as librarians, researchers, and professionals
  • recognize the value of browsing and other serendipitous methods of information gathering
  • persist in the face of search challenges, and know when they have enough information to complete the information task

Mapped to the LEAP Standards




3                                                                  2



Understands that information searching is often non-linear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a broad range of sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding is developed.

Understands that information searching is often non-linear. Evaluates a broad range of sources, and begins to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding is developed.

Begins to understand that information searching is non-linear. Evaluates a narrow range of sources. Pursues a few alternate avenues and develops a rudimentary understanding of the topic.

Does not understand that information searching is non-linear. Does not evaluate a broad range of sources. Does not pursue alternative avenues or develop in-depth understanding of a topic.

Assignment Ideas

  • Ask students to brainstorm possible sources that might have relevant information. What tools will they need to locate those resources?
  • Students must identify one or two important databases for the project they are working on and analyze why they consider them to be an effective resource for their research.
  • Ask students to choose a topic, develop key search terms, and use two different search engines to locate information on their topic. Have them compare the results in terms of quantity, types of sources (e.g., government, educational, scholarly, and commercial), order/sequence of results, and relevance. Pair students who used the same search engine with different topics to compare results.
  • Ask students to write an I-Search paper, whereby they journal their searching processes, including key terms, tools used, and resources/results at each step. They should note how they evaluated their resources, and what information was extracted. Their journal should also reflect their feelings: success, concern, frustration, pride, etc. Pair up students, and ask them to read and comment on each other's journal, and then draw up conclusions and recommendations for their peers.