Information Competency Tutorials



Information For Students

  1. What you will learn
  2. Additional Help
  3. How students can use the CUNY ICT
  4. Choosing a Topic and Research Strategies- Tutorials 1 and 2
  5. Finding Information- Tutorials 3 and 4
  6. Evaluate the Quality and Bias of Information and Credit Sources Responsibly- Tutorials 5, 6, 7 and 8

What you will Learn

  • You will learn: the process of choosing a topic, designing a research strategy, finding and evaluating several different kinds of sources, and using them properly in course writing.
  • You will learn strategies for approaching research as will as some of the computer resources you might use as you research a topic.
  • You will have quizzes and exercises to practice what you’ve learned.

How Students can use the CUNY ICT

The CUNY ICT can be used at any time. Review individual tutorials and apply them as works best for you. Some professors may assign individual tutorials as part of a class or assignment.

Choosing a Topic and Research Strategies

To prepare yourself to use library and other information sources to do research, review the first two tutorials. Tutorial 1-Determine your research needs and Tutorial 2-Define the research topic.

Tutorial 1 - Determine Your Information Needs

You will learn how to develop a clear and viable research topic using critical thinking skills. You will learn to ask yourself these questions:

A. What type of assignment is it?
senior project/thesis
critique, summary, short paper, term paper

B. Do you need a lot, or a little information?
detailed/in-depth study vs. summary/overview
book vs. article
entire work vs. summary/chapters/sections

C. Is currency of the information an issue?
the most recent information
historical information
information over time (trends, developments, etc.)

D. Do you need information from a particular kind of publication?
scholarly/professional (refereed, footnotes)

E. Do you need primary or secondary material?
Primary: diaries/interview/letters/data
Secondary: books/articles/interpreted materials

F. Do you need to use different formats?
print (books, articles, etc.)
electronic (web, listservs, computer files)
visual/graphic (art prints, slides, maps, videos, graphs)
numeric (statistics)
sound (audio tape, radio)

G. Is point of view an issue?
Do you need information that presents:
a particular point of view
opposing points of view
a range of viewpoints
biased vs. neutral

Tutorial 2 - Define the Research Topic
You will be able to decide what kind of information will be needed to complete a particular kind of assignment. You will be shown how to:

A. State your topic as a question.
B. Identify concepts.
C. If needed, narrow or broaden the topic.

Finding Information

To explore possible information resources and learn how to search them, review the next two tutorials. Tutorial 3-Locate and retrieve relevant information and Tutorial 4-Use technological tools for accessing information

Tutorial 3 - Locate and Retrieve Relevant Information

You will learn how to access information using various print and electronic finding aids. You will also see that some Reference sources are useful for background and others for data while still others have extensive information that help you focus or refine your research.

A. Print Reference Sources
Access points (Table of contents/index)
Types of Print reference sources:
General Encyclopedias
Subject-specific encyclopedias and dictionaries
Handbooks and manuals
Biographical sources/directories
Bibliographies/research guides
Statistical sources
Almanacs and datebooks
Atlases and maps
Yearbooks and annuals
Finding Reference Sources

B. Finding Reference Sources

You will be shown how to find Reference sources in several formats including using CUNY+ the catalog for all CUNY libraries
For electronic Reference Sources
Access points (Keyword/Subject/Author/Title)

Tutorial 4 - Use Technological Tools for Accessing Information

You will learn how to use various electronic resources including:

A. Overview of Databases (records, fields, indexing)
Types of Databases (subject e.g. how discipline-specific, general)
Coverage of Databases
dates and updates e.g. dates covered (includes updates),
no., type and indexing (abridged vs. entire) of publications covered
geographic and language parameters
type e.g. bibliographic, full-text, numeric

B. Search strategies
Important search concepts
menu vs. command systems
controlled vs. uncontrolled vocabulary
fields vs. full-text indexing/searching
Creating a search statement
Broadening the search (truncation/OR Boolean operator)
Narrowing the search
AND and NOT Boolean operators
stringing searches
limiters (date, language, format)
proximity operators
cross-field searching
Viewing and interpreting search results (displaying and interpreting results)

C. Overview of the Web
Structure and attributes of the Web
Web search tools including search engines, metasearch engines and Web directories
Types of Web sites
Interpreting results
Explanations of domain, ranking of results etc. which will help you begin to evaluate results from search engines.

Evaluate the Quality and Bias of Information and Credit Sources Responsibly

To understand how to evaluate information, become aware of bias, and credit sources of information, review the last four tutorials: Tutorial 5-Evaluate information, Tutorial 6-Communicate using a variety of information technologies, Tutorial 7-Understand the ethical, legal, and socio-political issues surrounding information and information technology, and Tutorial 8-Use, evaluate, and treat critically information received from the mass media

Tutorial 5 - Evaluate Information

You will be shown how to determine the usefulness and value of retrieved information. You will learn to ask yourself:

A. Is the Information relevant/appropriate?
Is the format or medium of the information useful for your assignment?
Is the information from a primary or secondary source?
Is the information comprehensive enough for your needs?
Does the information express a particular point of view?

B. Is the information timely?
When was the information created/published/compiled?
Is the information regularly updated and how often?
Is the information still valid for your topic?

C. Is the information reliable?
Who is the author/producer of the information?
What are the credentials of the author or the publication?
Does the information come from an authoritative source?
Is the information supported by reference to other works?
How stable is the information you have retrieved?

D. Is the information complete?
What is the scope/coverage of the information?
Is the information complete or abridged?
Is the information current, historical or both?

E. Is the information accurate?
How is the information presented?
If the information is presented as fact, is it correct?
What kind of language is used?
Is a particular point of view represented?
Is the information biased?

Tutorial 6 - Communicate Using a Variety of Information Technologies

You will be given an overview of how information is communicated using various technological tools.

A. Purpose of communication

B. Parameters of information to be communicated
Amount of detail needed
When does the information need to be delivered (when is it due)?

C. Intended audience
Hardware/software availability of intended audience
Computer skills of intended audience

D. E-Mail
Email addresses
Email programs & features
Configuring email software: Sending; Receiving email-checking/reading/managing and Attaching files to an email message

E. PowerPoint
On-screen presentation
35mm slides or overheads
Speakers, notes, outline pages, audience handouts
Use of autocontent Wizard
Building presentations from template
Start from scratch
Adding pictures, charts, sound, web links, etc.

F. Creating Web Pages
flexibility in modifying text
object insertion features
making links to other web pages
adding an email feature
preview web page in Netscape

G. Design principles

Tutorial 7 - Understand the ethical, legal and socio-political issues surrounding information and information technology

You will learn about the legal and social issues confronting information. Topics covered include:
A. Copyright/Plagiarism
copyright law
fair use
electronic information and multimedia
citing sources
style manuals
citing web information

B. Privacy/Security
Tracking which sites you have visited
Tracking activities within a site
Tracking your newsgroup postings

C. Censorship/Freedom of Speech

Tutorial 8 - Use, evaluate and treat critically information received from the mass media (Media Literacy)

You will learn about the usefulness and credibility of information communicated through the media. Points covered include:

A. Media Literacy
Media & Mass Media
Target Audiences

B. Assessing Credibility
Freedom to Report
Currency of reports of events
Relative expertise of witness

C. How the Media Persuade: Verbally & Visually

D. Advertising : Verbal & Visual Messages

E. Contemporary Media Concerns
Television viewing by children
Advertising on Television
Sex and violence on Television
Exposure to graphic sexual material on the Internet

F. Media Terms/vocabulary

G. Online Media Literacy Sites

Spanish translation of the CUNY Information Competency Tutorials was made possible by a grant from the CUNY Office of Compliance and Diversity, Diversity Projects Development Fund. Prof. José Diaz, Hostos Community College and Prof. George Thorsen, Queensborough Community College translated these modules into Spanish.  The Hostos Community College Instructional Technology support center staff migrated all of the IL Competency modules into a new, more attractive format as part of a Perkins Grant to provide 24/6 online tutorial resources to students. A special thanks goes to Hostos Community College and George Rosa, Elkin Urrea, and Carlos Victoria for their work on the migration and design.