Information literacy has been an integral part of Lafayette College’s First Year Seminar program since its inception in 1992. In May 2011, Lafayette’s faculty voted to approve the new curriculum and continue their support for the integration of information literacy in the FYS. Three information literacy outcomes are assessed in the FYS program:

  • A. Identify and locate information relevant to a specific purpose or goal.
  • B. Use information critically and effectively to accomplish a specific purpose or goal.
  • C. Use information ethically and legally.

Each FYS is assigned a librarian, who typically meets with the class twice during the semester. The first meeting usually provides an introduction to library resources and the second focuses on evaluating sources, particularly free Web sources.

Project ideas

Each First Year Seminar includes at least one project in which students are required to use information resources. Many types of projects beyond a typical research paper may be assigned. Some ideas are listed below.

  • Locate two encyclopedia articles (at least one of which should be from a subject encyclopedia), summarize them, and identify the major concepts or controversies in the area which might provide basis for further investigation of the topic.
  • Prepare a bibliography of scholarly sources with evaluative annotations. Explain how each source was located and its value and relevance to the topic.
  • Find a scholarly article, read it closely, create a glossary of unfamiliar
    topics from the article, and create an abstract in “plain English.”
  • Examine a scholarly work against its references: how the argument is constructed, what kind of sources the author uses, and which of these source are worth further reading.
  • Research a controversial topic using a variety of sources (books, journals, newspapers, magazines, etc.). Discuss how and why the topic is treated differently in these sources.
  • Locate and compare the discussions of a scientific study in the popular and scholarly press.
  • Locate at least two lengthy reviews of books, films, recordings, etc., connected to the course. Compare the two reviews and discuss any biases displayed by the reviewers, as well as any misrepresentations or inaccuracies you find
    in the review.
  • Research a topic in earlier and later literature (e.g. 1970s or 80s and 1990s or 00s). Discuss how the field has evolved over time.
  • After researching an event, a development or breakthrough, write a diary entry or an editorial as if the student were an event observer or participant.

If you would like to explore project ideas for your class, please contact Lijuan Xu (, X. 5152) or your FYS librarian.