Teaching the Skills to Question: A Credit-Course Approach to Critical Information Literacy

Ian Beilin, Anne E Leonard


Critical Information Literacy does not dispense with teaching ‘rules’ (of grammar, citation, research, writing, etc.), but also places these elements within larger frameworks of critical dialogue, creative thinking and learning, and political and historical inquiry. All of these elements together empower students far more than a mastering of the rules and techniques of research. “Research and Documentation for the Information Age” is the critical information literacy course currently offered by the Library department at New York City College of Technology. With the luxury of three credits, we emphasize integration of library skills into all facets of assignments rather than presenting them as discrete competencies to be mastered and measured. Students come away not only with the ability to succeed in the world, but also with an ability to better understand their world’s origins, structures, and functions, and with a clearer idea of how those structures are contingent and open to challenge. In other words, critical information literacy enables students to believe that they have the ability to change that world.


information literacy; critical information literacy; critical pedagogy; credit-bearing instruction

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