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Information Literacy Framework

This guide will help students better understand the information literacy concepts underlying the research process. Information Literacy includes media literacy and text-based literacy.

"Research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines on inquiry in any field."

"Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education", American Library Association, February 9, 2015. (Accessed July 20, 2020).



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Put together a collection of research questions taken from published research articles to serve as examples/models of research questions.


The spirit of inquiry is the engine of democracy. The democratic process is nothing less than citizens regularly asking what kind of society they want to live in and whom they want to lead them. But more and more people are avoiding the whole messy business of questioning. Americans are instead being trained to look for ready-made answers, with potentially dire implications for the health of our society.

In this impassioned new book, Andrea Batista Schlesinger argues that we're besieged by cultural forces that urge us to avoid independent thought and critical analysis.

The media reduces politics to a spectator sport, focusing on polls and personalities rather than issues and ideas. Schools teach to standardized tests - students learn to fill in the bubbles, not open their minds. ''Financial literacy'' courses have replaced civics classes, graduating smart shoppers rather than informed citizens. Even the Internet promotes habits that discourage inquiry. Regurgitating search-engine results becomes a substitute for genuine research and reflection. Social networks promote connection rather than engagement. With all the information available online, over a third of those younger than twenty-five say they get no news on a typical day, up from 25 percent in 1998.

The situation isn't hopeless. Batista Schlesinger spotlights individuals and institutions across the country that are working to renew a healthy sense of curiosity and skepticism, particularly in American's youth. It is, at this point, an uphill battle but one well worth undertaking. The Death of ''Why?'' offers both a penetrating socio-cultural critique of our current path and a way forward for cultivating inquiry and reinvigorating our democracy.


(These assignments are offered as inspirational prompts to be adapted by anyone using this guide.)

  • Flowchart of research (to teach the iterative process of research) (Here's an example. While it is built for historians it discusses the method for developing a good research question.)
    • "The lesson to take from this is that research is an iterative process. You will go through many of the same steps again and again. You will have to read documents, pursue interesting ideas, read some more, create more questions, find documents, and so on. Continue doing this until you reach a question that is small enough that you think you could answer it in the time available to you."

  • Discuss the varieties of research - from finding a place for dinner to solving global problems.
  • Create a research question and find two sources using keywords/concepts from the question. Use those sources to develop a more focused question.
  • Discuss how to combat fake news. Compare results to scientific/scholarly/research methods.
  • Handout of flawed research questions given to students. Instructor writes question on board and class/instructor talk about ways to improve the question to make it more suitable for solving a research problem/question. (Broadening, narrowing, and the value of open-ended questions.)
  • Whodunnit? Use CSI as a model for research. How is solving a crime like solving a research problem?

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