thing 6: Information Creation as a Process

Recommended Readings, Resources, and Examples

Woxland, C. M., Cochran, D., Davis, E. L., & Lundstrom, K. (2017). Communal & Student-Centered: Teaching Information Creation as a Process with Mobile Technologies. Reference Services Review, 45(1).

Choose Your Own Adventure Activity

Select one of the following activities to complete:

  1. Locate an example of an article or lesson plan that describes an approach to teaching using the frame Information Creation as a Process. In a comment, post a link to the article or lesson plan (or a citation if paywalled) along with a short summary of what you read. How could you adapt or build upon this approach at your own institution?
  2. Drawing inspiration from one of the recommended readings, draft your own lesson plan related to the frame Information Creation as a Process. Upload your lesson plan to Project CORA and/or the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy Sandbox, and post a link to it here.


  1. I read Question Authority and Be an Authority: The Future Belongs to Us” by Romel Espinel. They outline\ a lesson where an instructor poses questions to students using an audience response system. Through this students examine how authority is constructed in what might be a “traditional” research topic, and then how authority may be different in a more contemporary or social justice research topic. Then students break into small groups and examine who might be the authority on different subjects and why. This is in order to emphasize that authority does not necessarily solely depend on one’s education or degree, but that authority needs to be contextualized depending on the subject. This also empowers students to claim their own expertise in subjects or areas they may be authorities in.

    A lesson I would like to try would be to pick a current event or issue that has happened locally in the students community, and analyzing what has been published on the subject. Such as primary and secondary sources depending on when the event took place. Then asking the students if they happened to post anything on their personal social media on the subject, and analyzing it as content and information creation. If they haven’t then it could be a research project throughout the term to do post a blog post, or a personal narrative and analyze how that information was created. We could map out the process of the students information creation process as well as those of more traditional authorities

    • Espinel, R. (2016). “Question Authority and be An Authority: The Future Belongs to Us”. Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook: Lesson Plans. Volume 2. Association of College & Research Libraries Press.


  2. I looked at an activity from DePaul University called, “Locating Academic Sources.”

    Essentially, students work in groups with a popular source on the subject of healthcare (magazine or newspaper article). They must work together to find where the author found their information without the help of citations. This activity demonstrates the knowledge practices of “Recognize that information may be perceived differently based on the format in which it is packaged” and “Monitor the value that is placed upon different types of information products in varying contexts.” As part of the activity, there is discussion about where the students found the information and why. There will also be a discussion about which part of the popular source was most useful to help find the original source of information.

    At my university, we already have an activity in which we explore the differences between popular and peer-reviewed resources. I don’t think it would be too difficult to build upon that to make an activity similar to this one. Since the original activity we do is part of our First Year Seminar class, this more in-depth activity might be appropriate for our General Education Capstone course.


  3. All the raves for the Scholarly Article Autopsy make me want to try it, but to explore a different possibility, I looked at “Interrogating Sources with First Year Students” from Martinique Hallerduff & Jennifer Lau-Bond at Dominican University & Harper College:

    The lesson begins with an activity: in pairs or small groups students answer questions about a source on a Google form with half the class reviewing one type of source and half another type (e.g. a popular magazine and an academic journal). Questions are short-answer and multiple-choice, and the results are anonymous. After everyone finishes, the instructor projects graphs summarizing the student responses (created automatically by Google Forms!) for class discussion, focusing on areas that proved problematic. Then the process is repeated with two different types of sources (the authors suggest a reference source and a trade journal; it might be interesting to use an encyclopedia entry and a blog post.)

    I like the flexibility of this lesson. The questions are easy enough that it’s accessible to first-year students, and it can be modified for different disciplines. In the past, when introducing primary vs. secondary sources to students, I’ve often shown them an information timeline (like this one for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill from Seminole State:, and I think it would be useful to add this to the discussion to give students a context for the sources they’re exploring and emphasize the concept of information creation as a process.


  4. Someone else beat me to it, but I also selected this article with it’s clever “autopsy” title; I have done something similiar with students, calling it a scholarly article “Scavenger Hunt”. Providing them with different color highlighters, I ask students to go through and “find” different parts of the article. We stop and discuss each aspect of the article as we go, for example, they highlight the author’s credentials and we discuss how this article is written within a discipline. I like how the autopsy lesson has the additional layer of comparing a scholarly article to a magazine article (It might even be possible to find a magazine article that summarizes or mentions the scholarly article, that would be an interesting wrinkle!). Seeing the two articles juxtaposed together would really help highlight the differences between the two formats both in terms of their creation process and their intended audience (purpose). You could also bring in a print copy of a scholarly journal and a print magazine and have students compare the two publications. One small change I would make to the lesson plan would be to avoid asking students to discuss whether a magazine is “better” or “worse”.. I would prefer to frame the question around the strengths of each format and ask them to reflect on how each source is used in different contexts.


  5. Even as seniors our capstone students often lack the experience with different source types. If they can’t identify a source type, how can they cite it –let alone incorporate it into their final paper?

    This project CORA lesson “You say periodical. . .”

    addresses the very issue, and I could use examples tailored to the given section.

    The biggest challenge would be adapting the lesson to an online format, though I could use groups in BlackBoard. I’d also need to keep in mind that not all students–even seniors–are equally comfortable in an online class. This is a similar point to Woxland, Cochran, Davis, and Lundstrom’s (2017) concern that not all students have mobile devices (p. 82).

    I’d need to negotiate with the instructor of record as well. Fortunately I have a good rapport with the capstone faculty. In one section the instructor even assigns an essay that would work as an example for the lesson.


  6. I took a look at a ACRL Sandbox lesson plan on the information life cycle at by Toni Carter and Todd Aldridge.

    The lesson plan is described as asking “students to evaluate information they use for their college writing assignments, such as newspapers, scholarly journal articles, etc., through the lenses of format and rigor by introducing them to the information life cycle” and is intended to get students thinking about the different types of information formats and how they are created.

    Students are asked to consider the time taken to create each type of information, which should lead them to think critically about the who/what/why of the information, as well as the accuracy, depth and impact of the information.

    The activity asks students to pair or group up and assess various sources about the same event or topic, and then determine how long they think it took to create the information source, then write it down in the appropriate time range: one day, one week, one month, one year, etc. The class then comes back together as a group to discuss. Students could also be asked to do a search for sources of similar rigor and format while the librarian circulates to assist. Or, students could be asked to find other sources and then be asked to engage in a short writing assignment to justify their choices.

    I really like this assignment, and I think it could be easily used or adapted at my institution. Specifically, we are working to create a for-credit course, and I would like to include a reflective journal component to the course, and I think this would easily work as an in class activity with a follow up journal entry.


  7. Upson, M, O’Neil, T., & Colquhoun, C. (2017). Freshman framework: Collaboratively developing a set of required instructional modules for freshman research scholars. In M.K. Hensley & S. Davis-Kahl (Eds.) Undergraduate research and the academic librarian: Case studies and best practices (pp. 115-128). Chicago, IL: Association of College and Research Libraries.

    I was interested in this article in using the Framework to help freshman bring their perceived research skills up to the expectations of the professors. Although there were six videos created to inform and challenge the students, one was specifically aimed at Creation as a Process. Titled “How is your information created?” reflective questions were included in the appendix. The questions were aimed at dealing with inaccurate information and the strength of peer review.

    This is a difficult concept for freshmen, for all of us, until we have worked in the research field for a time and can determine how research builds upon research and having a weak link in that process can be pretty serious. How we determine strong or weak research takes much practice but is something that should be a part of undergraduate learning. Taking an approach of using videos to get their concept across and to tease this idea of creating a new piece of work with a strong foundation is admirable. They did use expertise in their own library, a media production team, and that could be intimidating to others but in our library we also have done something similar. After outlining the concepts and skills, we divided up the video production into skillsets (script writing, recording, editing) it was not only more manageable but easier to update when necessary. Our videos were made to be updated, especially since information and the acquisition of it is constantly changing, too. It was great to read about someone else doing something similar to us and how it was done differently.


  8. I chose the lesson:

    “Access, Power, & Privilege: A Toolkit at the Intersections of Scholarly Communication and Information Literacy” submitted by Carolyn Caffrey Gardner on April 18th, 2018
    to Project Cora.
    I liked that Ms. Gardner spoke of information as a commodity, and emphasized that to access scholarly articles on the internet you often have to pay. I liked how she shared Creative Commons and Right to Research as ways to obtain scholarly material for free. I wish that she had mentioned the public library, and the databases one can access there for free.


  9. This basic lesson plan for “Information Creation as Process” comes from University of Cincinnati Libraries:

    As I review the work that I’m currently undertaking with our faculty, they rank this particular frame very low in importance as compared to other frames. Most of my one-shot instructions occur in English Composition classes, so the students who are on the receiving end of the library instruction are actively involved in the process of information creation as they choose topics, locate and evaluate sources that support their topics, collate their data, and then create a paper, essay, project, etc.

    I like UC Libraries’ basic lesson plan outline for this frame because it really provides some leeway or room for expansion as I, the instructor, see fit within the instruction and the specific classroom setting. With at least one of my Comp II classes, the students choose an historical figure or event and then write a series of papers centered around the figure/event. Essentially, they are taking a deeper look in each paper at the who, what, when, where, why, and how of their chosen topics. For each paper, their sources have to be specifically focused to answer or resolve the question that is being posed to them from the six possible points of analysis (who,what, etc.). If I can break down “Information Creation as Process” well with our students with, for ex. the UC Libraries’ chart for sources, then they will be better able to identify the best possible sources for their papers.

    My goal is for our students to realize that the final outcome, their papers, are part of this frame – that they themselves are information creators and that they are part of the information creation process. So, why not have them analyze their papers as potential sources for others? Wouldn’t that close the loop of learning for them? This experience would put into practice with their own writing everything that they have been learning by critically examining the creation process of other sources.


  10. I chose the article, “Toward a design epistemology for librarianship,” by Rachel Ivy Clarke,

    Rachel Ivy Clarke, “Toward a Design Epistemology for Librarianship,” The Library Quarterly 88, no. 1 (January 2018): 41-59.

    In this article, Clarke argues that the design process is fundamental to librarianship, including information literacy teaching. Although librarianship is often regarded as a social science, Clarke states that science tends to “find meaning,” whereas librarians should, like designers, “make meaning.” Design implies that librarians seek to be novel and to innovate. Novelty vs. non-novelty is not binary; it exists along a continuum. The librarian may use his or her repertoire of possibilities to apply a solution from another context or location and still create something new.
    LIbrarianship, says Clarke, is iterative and characterized by continuous reflection in action and reframing. It deals with “wicked problems” that have no easy solution. Librarians use “adductive reasoning” to suggest that somthing might be possible, to change situations or to add meaning. Problems and solutions are dealt with in cycles, and the user is the focus.


    • Oops, forgot how to apply at my institution. We can remember to be careful observers and listeners and keep an open mind for new possibilities based on what we see and hear.


  11. I selected an activity created by Todd Heldt that encourages students to look at not only scholarly sources but open internet sources.

    This is something I would love to adapt to my own classes because the bibliography doesn’t just focus on scholarly sources. I’ve helped students out with assignments that put a heavy focus on finding scholarly sources while the actual project request could be enhanced by incorporating information published in newspapers, trade magazines or even online. In an effort to push students to use “good” sources, I don’t feel as if there is enough focus on the value of each type or source and how they can be used.

    Students tend to navigate towards the web anyway over databases. Maybe by not treating online or less scholarly sources as “other,” we might have a better chance of guiding them through the murkiness.


  12. I chose the Types of Information online tutorial from Joelle Pitts, which is linked to on the Sandbox:

    The thing I like about it, as compared to a few of the other lessons that were linked to, is that it acknowledges and highlights the ways in which different types of information can be useful. I really liked the scholarly journal autopsy until it gets to the second to last question: “Is it better or worse than a scholarly sources?” Ugh.

    I do a version of some of these activities in a lot of my classes–give students the first page or two of four or five source types around a topic–say, a tweet, a newspaper article, magazine article, journal article, and maybe a book. I ask them to work in small groups and identify:
    1. what type of source it is
    2. where they could find the information they would use in a bibliography
    3. to estimate how long it took the author(s) to research and write the article/source
    4. explain a context in which it might be appropriate to use this in personal research or college work.


  13. I located a lesson plan in the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy Sandbox entitled “Inform Your Thinking”( The exercise was created by Cristina Colquhoun and Matt Upson from Oklahoma State University. The exercise consists of a series of short videos addressing the frames, in this case “Information Creation as a Process”, followed by questions related to the topic. The video uses natural language to describe how information is acquired and is presented by an actor who appears to be a student. Presenting the information in this way, makes the information much more palatable and easy to understand. My library has a One Button Studio installation which is ideal for the production of a short video. We could create questions to accompany the video as well, and offer it in the flipped classroom style, having the students view the video and answer the questions prior to their library instruction session. Because most of our instruction is limited to the one shot session, providing the information in advance would allow us time to focus on student’s responses to the questions when we meet in the classroom. In the past our library has used Google forms to get the students assessment of the library instruction session. Google forms could be used to capture the responses to the questions for assessment purposes, which could also inform our instruction.


  14. The University Libraries at the University of Washington has created guides on the ACRL Framework. The link for Information Creation is a Process is:

    There is a video, along with the transcript, which looks at how a scholarly article, a news story, and a tweet are created. It provides students with a good introduction to analyzing who created the source and a simplified overview of how, with different sources, ideas are turned into published pieces. It provides students with an understanding of how information is produced, thereby helping them to analyze if the source is suitable for their needs.


  15. The article on using mobile technology was interesting (ILL to the rescue!), however, mobile technology is not being as widely employed as it could be at our institution since not all students have smart devices, and the Library doesn’t have enough mobile devices to be used for an entire class.

    The assignment, Inform Your Thinking: How Is Your Information Created?, from the ACRL Framework Sandbox (, contributed by Christina Colquhoun (Oklahoma State University) includes a short video to “introduce students to the Information Creation as a Process frame by examining how the process for creating information impacts the way information is shared and packaged. Students will decide when to use each type of information depending on creation process, as well as recognize the need to verify their sources.” At the end of the of the video, there is a section which includes four open-ended questions which students can submit after viewing.

    Direct Link:

    To adapt this assignment, I would have students view the video and answer the questions using a survey tool before the Information Literacy session, and then include a discussion about their responses into the IL session. We could then search a database, such as EBSCOhost, and evaluate the results together based on the students’ research needs.


  16. I was unable to read the article as we don’t have access for a year. However, I explored the ACRL sandbox and found the following lesson that discusses Visual Literacy (see This is described as being able to “find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media.” It also takes into account design and ethical considerations.
    I really liked this lesson from the Sandbox: (which links to the lesson plan here: and the associated LibGuide ( Taking something popular such as comics and other graphic media and evaluating it for good design as well as showing students how to effectively communicate information provides them with something they will use way beyond school but into the work world. From the Framework, this lesson reinforces the ideas of “any format produced to convey a message…and is hsared via a selected delivery method.” Knowing your audience and being able to articulate your message visually and with impact is a skill that is becoming more important in our 140 character Tweeting world. As the Dispositions say in the Framework, one of these skills entails the ability to “match an information need with an appropriate product.” In other words, once you know your audience, don’t use an infographic, for example, unless it makes sense. Use only what is needed to convey the purpose or provide the understanding.
    I also really liked the use of the simple 4 Elements of Good Design and the assessment at the end where students can tell what was OLD to them, NEW to them, what BLEW (what the librarian may have missed) and a BOUQUET (what should be added.) These are practical ways to engage and make the lessons more meaningful in the future.
    I am not sure that I would be able to adapt this lesson for the one shots that we do, as we do not work with those types of elements, but I can envision creating a stand-alone module that instructors who are asking their students to create visuals could use (maybe in a flipped classroom way) that the students could walk through to discover and then discuss. If we aren’t able to provide in person assistance, I think a well made module could help students achieve visual literacy and thereby better understand the Information Creation as Process part of the Framework.


  17. One of my “dream” instructional sessions would cover the information timeline/ cycle – especially as it relates to “breaking news” through social media (since that’s a thing we’re now contending with from even the most “inside” sources from positions of power).

    This lesson is from Toni M. Carter and Todd Aldridge from Auburn University and it appears on the Sandbox at

    I like the idea of breaking a room or a class into “stations” representing different stops along a timeline and tracing an event through the publication cycle. The activity can be modified so that the stations represent the media or format, or different events… which is key to me (adaptability).

    I work in a joint-use library (public and college). Early in 2017, I collaborated with the public librarians on a media literacy 5-program series that we promoted to students and the local area community. The vast majority of our attendees were local seniors and regular library patrons. They expressed a lot of frustration about the validity of online sources because, to them, “online” means “unreliable.” During our discussions, it became clear that challenges were arising in the way the information timeline has been so compressed by the constant connectedness and the democratization of publication via the web and cellphone technology.

    I think a lesson like Carter and Aldridge’s would be really helpful to even an audience so distinct from traditional or common college students. I would love to do a session on this with them in our next go-round of the series. I think it would help them understand the information landscape as well as help them identify reliable sources that they already trust in an online format.


    • The article that we read for this particular post was interesting, but as Jalyn Warren mentioned the dependence on the use of devices made me hesitant. We are trying very hard to update our eClassroom (built in the 90s) to a more flexible active learning space so I am searching for lesson plans that will get students moving around both physically and mentally. At the moment, we do have Soltice Pods set up so students can share what they are doing on their devices or desktop computers in the lab, so there is more flexibility than we had about 6 months ago. This may address my hesitancy with the dependence on library or student provided devices used in the study in the article. Still, I want to find lessons that will allow the students to lead students.

      So, at the risk of being a “copycat” I am going to echo Christy Moran’s thoughts on this lesson plan: from Toni M. Carter and Todd Aldridge of Auburn University.

      I did try to find a different lesson plan, but kept coming back to this one. Usually I just touch on this issue as we are pressed for time, but would like to modify it to a shorter activity that gets students thinking. If I can reduce it to 3 examples then perhaps students can use on the desktop and share with the class as they answer the questions on the handout, demonstrating how they found the information. Once we have cleared the classroom of the massive 3 ton desks that can’t be moved, I would like to explore the idea of actually posting the different examples and allowing the students to manipulate and examine the different Stations. I only have a few more instruction sessions in which to experiment with this, and will come back to share what did and did not work.

      This would be a great activity for a Teach in, especially when dealing with difficult issues challenging the college campus. We have done some trainings in Difficult Dialogs, and I think this would be a great springboard for larger campus conversations around community and how to build it.


  18. I like “Scholarly Article Autopsy” found on the Sandbox:

    It’s an activity that pretty much takes up one session. It splits students into groups and each group looks at a scholarly and non-scholarly article, answering very detailed questions about each element of the scholarly article via a worksheet and comparing it to the non-scholarly one. Then each group presents about one or two of the questions while the librarian shows the article in question on screen.

    This brings attention to what goes into the creation of a scholarly article, specifically those in the sciences & social sciences with a lit review, methods, and results section. I think any subject could benefit from this activity just as a way to really look at and question the way academic literature is written to better know how to use it in your own research.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love the “autopsy” analogy! I also really appreciate how this lesson encourages student to go beyond a superficial analysis and dig deeper into the article. One thing I might add, time-permitted, is to have the students visit the journal website to see what the authors had to do to submit and publish the article. This would give them some insight into the process by which the information was created. They could then compare this to the other article and think about the benefits and drawbacks of each publishing method. Thanks for sharing!!



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