Evidence vs. Anecdote: Using Syllabi to Plan Curriculum-Integrated Information Literacy Instruction

Amy VanScoy, North Carolina State University
Megan Oakleaf, Syracuse University


Many academic library instruction programs seek to integrate information literacy skills into the curriculum of academic departments. Previous literature on this topic generally recommends a “tiered” approach to curriculum-integrated instruction (CII); these tiered approaches suggest teaching basic skills to first- and second-year students and advanced skills to third- and fourth-year students. Many authors identify skills to teach at each level; however, their recommendations appear to be based on anecdote and common sense. While both anecdote and common sense are useful as starting points, librarians who plan CII programs should use evidence to make instructional decisions. To provide evidence for CII planning, this syllabus study investigated the research skills required of first-year students in their first semester at college. The results demonstrate that most first-semester students are required to find articles and Web sites to support their assignments, and many students are required to find books. Some must also find reference books as well as data and statistical sources to complete their course assignments. These results suggest that previous recommendations regarding tiered instructional approaches should be investigated further and revised.