Research Skills Central

Course materials for teachers of information literacy

What is information literacy?

Secker & Coonan’s 2011 research on A New Curriculum for Information Literacy (ANCIL) describes information literacy as a spectrum of skills, competences, behaviours and values around information, centred on an individual learner who is engaged in a specific task or moving towards a particular goal.

The research presents a broad vision of information literacy across 10 ‘strands’, which include the social, ethical and emotional dimensions of dealing with information:

The focus of the curriculum is on the individual learner’s development of an independent and judicious relationship with information. ANCIL represents this development in four progressive ‘bands’. These are: acquiring practical skills; establishing a context within which to deploy the skills; high-level cognitive operations including critical evaluation, synthesis, and creating new knowledge; and finally the development of the conscious, reflective framework that is key to managing one’s own learning.

Cambridge University Library’s Research Skills Programme is aligned with this vision of information literacy as a fundamental element of learning and as the defining characteristic of the discerning scholar. All sessions in the programme are mapped to one or more of the ten strands and contain elements corresponding to each of the four learning bands, as well as maintaining a focus on active and reflective learning.

More information on the ANCIL research, including project reports, can be found at Teaching resources, audit tools, and case studies are available on the wiki at


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