Research and Technology Introductory Skills

The College Strategic Plan challenges us "to produce a certain kind of graduate: a person... who can critically analyze and investigate problems using appropriate information resources; and who leaves Middlebury with a capacity for independent thought and analysis that will foster a lifetime of continued learning." (Recommendation #44). To meet this challenge, faculty, librarians, and technologists have been working together to determine the research and technology skills most crucial to our students’ success and to develop a systematic approach to teaching these skills within the curriculum.

The Middlebury Library and Information Technology Services (formerly combined as LIS), in consultation with the former Faculty LIS Advisory Committee, defined the basic introductory skills students should learn during their initial year. Intermediate and advanced information skills needed by students will vary by department or program. Several departments participated in pilot projects to define the additional skills needed for their majors; these may in turn serve as models to help other departments do the same. The goal is for students to learn in-depth, discipline-specific, methods, technologies, and resources during their middle years that will prepare them for capstone and independent work during their senior year. By the end of the senior year, students will be sophisticated researchers capable of independent inquiry and analysis. They will be able to use the best evidence to support a thesis and critically evaluate arguments. They will be collaborative producers of information who are capable of presenting and publishing in multiple media and who effectively use the most appropriate formats and techniques. They will be able to adapt to new technologies and resources in order to continue lifelong, independent learning.

Introductory Skills
(First-Year Seminars, Introductory Classes, College Writing Classes (CW), etc.)

1. The Student is familiar with library and technology spaces and their services.


  • Can locate the libraries and labs on campus, including their specialized spaces and service points.
  • Can find resources and help with those resources, both physical and online, to troubleshoot, research, create, and learn.

2. The student is familiar with basic computer and network use and security protection.


  • Understands networks and how to connect to them from multiple access points (e.g. wireless, mobile devices).
  • Uses effective password, authentication, security, backup, and recovery strategies.
  • Demonstrates responsible ID management (e.g. use and protection of private information) and practices (e.g. honesty, integrity) in social networking environments and virtual communities.
  • Understands the appropriate and responsible use of communication tools (e.g. chats, instant messaging, blogs, wikis) and can collaborate using these tools.
  • Understands the platforms, versions, properties, and functions of common computing devices and how to connect and operate them with one another.

3. The student understands the scope of the information and resources needed.


  • Can articulate and conceptualize what information and technologies are needed for an assignment or project.

4. The student identifies a variety of types and formats of potential sources for information.


  • Can determine the kinds of text, data, or multimedia resources needed and understands what constitutes scholarly sources.

5. The student uses a variety of search methods and acquires needed information.


  • Understands how to construct a search in online databases using various search options and relevant terms and effectively revises searches to broaden or limit results.
  • Knows how to find related resources from information found (e.g. using subject headings or cited references).
  • Knows how to find items Middlebury owns or has access to and knows how to use Interlibrary loan if needed.

6. The student evaluates information and its sources critically.


  • Uses critical thinking skills to determine the relevance, appropriateness, accuracy, authority, point of view, etc. of information found whether from library or internet resources.
  • Compares and synthesizes information from a variety of appropriate sources and draws conclusions based on the information gathered.

7. The student follows laws, regulations, and institutional policies for the ethical use of information resources.


  • Respects the Honor Code, understands what constitutes plagiarism, and does not represent others' work as their own.
  • Knows how to cite materials using standard bibliographic citation styles and consults citation guides or uses software to assist with creating bibliographies (e.g. Zotero; RefWorks).
  • Is aware of and respects copyright/fair use and intellectual property and digital rights laws.

8.  The student creates and presents content using appropriate technologies.


  • Is able to use a variety of appropriate media and production tools for those media (e.g. images)
  • Is able to publish content with appropriate tools (e.g. blogs, wikis, desktop applications)


Middlebury College - Middlebury Library; Information Technology Services, August 29, 2014

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