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Information Literacy Among Pre-Licensure Nursing Students


Information literacy (IL) is the ability to solve a problem by identifying an information need, locating and evaluating the information, and then applying that information to the problem at hand. The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), provides an information literacy framework that addresses the needs of nursing students at various degree levels. These competency standards are meant to guide nursing faculty and librarians that liaison to nursing programs as both parties support nursing students.

To support the mission of the ACRL at a mid-sized university’s College of Health, the library and nursing school launched a pilot project to develop the information literate nurse. Nursing faculty collaborated with their librarian to create library based research skills presentations that addressed the gap in  information literacy skills among BSN students in the core nursing courses. Presentations were designed to become more advanced as students progressed through the program. Data collected over a one year period revealed that students not only performed better on IL tasks, but that they also felt more confident in their research abilities after having a librarian embedded in the classroom. This presentation will elaborate on the project’s findings, the successes and challenges encountered, and provide the resources created should other nursing faculty and librarians want to remix and reuse the project at their institution.


The Project

Purpose: Assess how confident nursing students feel when finding information using appropriate library resources. Questions to consider will be whether or not the student is aware of the resources available, how familiar (s)he is with using these resources, whether or not (s)he is successful in navigating the resources, and whether or not (s)he is guessing or truly “knows” how to find information.

Project Aims:

  • How confident do students perceive themselves in their ability to perform research bsed tasks?
  • How successful are students in correctly answering or solving research based tasks?
  • Do library information literacy sessions help students perform better over time?

Defining Information Literacy

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), defines information literacy as "the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning."

For further information, consult ACRL's Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education.

Suggested video: What is Information Literacy? This video briefly explains, in plain English, information literacy in light of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education and explains how these concepts apply in the real world, beyond the classroom. It is geared toward students, faculty, and anyone wanting to learn more about IL.