Notre Dame Libraries Information Literacy Pot of Gold

Hesburgh Libraries

University of Notre Dame

  1. Home
  2. Introduction
  3. Information Cycle
  4. Investigating
  5. Searching
  6. Locating
  7. Evaluating
  8. Utilizing
  9. Ask a Librarian
  10. Acknowledgements

Instructor Notes

Locating, retrieving, evaluating, and using information is an important part of the educational experience in the 21st century. The Pot of Gold is an interactive web-based tutorial for teaching basic information literacy concepts to First Year students at Notre Dame. Learner analysis reveals that students come to Notre Dame with highly disparate information literacy skills. This instructional product provides the student with the opportunity to assess his own skill level and address learning gaps that might affect research and other information-seeking performance.

The Pot of Gold also provides a quick review or update for the experienced researcher, particularly when interdisciplinary research requires seeking information from unfamiliar sources.

Context and Content
The Pot of Gold tutorial is learner-centered, self-paced instruction for fundamental information management. The title suggests that the student will find valuable and useful information after mastering the skills covered here.  Based on ACRL Information Literacy standards 1, 2, 3, and 5, It is intended to teach the learner how to:

  • Determine the nature and extent of information needed (Standard 1)

  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently (Standard 2)

  • Critically evaluate information and its sources (Standard 3)

  • Use information ethically and legally (Standard 5)

(Standard 4 refers to the effective application of skills noted in the other standards.)

The content is divided logically among 6 modules. Each module begins with an advance organizer to situate the lesson and help the student connect to prior knowledge on the topic. There are multiple opportunities for the student to test her comprehension of the subject matter with interactive practice and feedback exercises. Each module also includes a brief “Test Yourself” section (with immediate feedback) to help the student identify areas that may require additional review. Pace will vary but most learners should be able to complete the tutorial within 60 minutes.
Pot of Gold can be completed as an independent assignment outside of scheduled class time in preparation for a research project or as a basis for a class discussion.

Library Instruction  
Instructors are encouraged to require their students to take the tutorial before coming to the library for formal instruction. Students who are exposed to the common language and concepts of research before attending formal library instruction will be prepared to move quickly toward more advanced search techniques in the classroom session. 
If you would like to schedule a library instruction session for your class, please use the following links:

Learning Objectives:

Module 1 Information Cycle

ACRL Standard 1: The information literate student determines the nature and extent of information needed.
After completing Module 1, the student can:

  • Describe the information cycle as a process.
  • Given a need for a particular type of information (overview, news, scientific research, etc.) identify and use an appropriate information source (book, scholarly article, newspaper article, encyclopedia, blog).
  • Identify the purpose and audience of potential sources.
  • Differentiate between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources, recognizing how their use and importance vary with each discipline. .
  • Recall that knowledge can be organized into disciplines that influence the way information is accessed.

Module 2 Investigating

ACRL Standard 1: The information literate student determines the nature and extent of information needed.
After completing Module 2, the student can:

  • Examine an assignment carefully and determine the type of resources that are needed.
  •  Identify a research topic and narrow the focus if needed.
  • Distinguish between strong and weak thesis statements.
  • Develop a thesis statement and formulate a research question based on the information need.

Module 3 Searching

ACRL Standard 2: The information literate student assesses the needed information effectively and efficiently
After completing Module 3, the student can:

  • Define the term database.
  • Differentiate among major finding aids typically used in libraries: the library catalog, research databases, and internet search engines.
  • Characterize the value and limitations of searching the Internet versus library information sources.
  • Identify keywords and synonyms and related terms for the information needed.
  • Select controlled vocabulary specific to the discipline or information retrieval source
  • Compare and contrast a subject search and a keyword search.
  • Distinguish between scholarly and popular sources.
  • Search for books using the Library Catalog.
  • Search for articles using library databases.

Module 4 Locating

ACRL Standard 2: The information literate student assesses the needed information effectively and efficiently
After completing Module 4, the student can:

  • Identify and interpret information found in a bibliographic citation; distinguish between a book and journal citation.
  • Use the Library of Classification system to locate information resources within the library.
  • Connect from citations in library databases to print and electronic articles in scholarly publications.

Module 5 Evaluating

ACRL Standard 3: The information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically.
After completing Module 5, the student can:
1. Articulate and apply the following criteria for evaluating both the information and its sources.

  • Currency
  •  Authority
  •  Accuracy
  • Relevance
  • Purpose

Module 6 Utilizing

ACRL Standard 5: The information literate student understands the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information & accesses and uses information ethically and legally.
After completing Module 6, the student can:

  • Identify the bibliographic elements essential for properly citing an information source
  • Cite sources according to the guidelines of an academic style manual.
  • Define plagiarism.
  • Apply appropriate ethical guidelines to the use and citing of information.
  • Apply the concepts of intellectual property, copyright, and fair use of copyrighted materials.


Sherri Jones, Librarian
Laurie McGowan, Instructional Designer



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