The contents of this page are an edited version of the table in James Herring's new book "The Internet and information skills: a guide for teachers and school librarians". London, Facet Publishing, 2004.

It is an attempt to translate the skills which teachers and teacher librarians might define, into the questions which students might ask. A very good exercise for teachers and teacher librarians individually or as part of an inservice day, is to cover up the questions on the right of the table and fill in the questions which you individually or as a group, think students might ask. This is also a useful exercise for senior school students.

Skills - Purpose Cognitive skills in identifying the topic and existing knowledge of the topic
  • What exactly is my topic about?
  • What do I already know about this topic?
Thinking skills such as brainstorming or concept mapping
  • What can I learn from other students about this topic?
  • How might I draw a picture or concept map of what this topic is about?
Skills in forming questions
  • What are the questions I want to ask about this topic?
Skills in identifying print and electronic information resources
  • Where can I get more information about this topic?
    • In the library?
    • On the Web?
Skills - Location Locational skills such as the ability to find information in library catalogues, books, CD-ROMs and the Web
  • How will I search for the information I need?
  • What words should I use if I use a search engine?
Selection skills in assessing the relevance of information resources
  • Is this what I really need?
  • Will it be useful to me?
IT skills using electronic sources such as the Web
  • How do I get on to a search engine?
  • Should I use the library website?
Skills - Use Reading skills including the ability to skim and scan print and electronic information resources to find relevant information and ideas
  • How can I quickly decide if this is the right kind of information for me?
  • How can I find really useful information for my topic in this book/website?
Interactive skills including the ability to understand the content of what is being read, viewed or listened to and the ability to relate this to existing knowledge
  • Do I understand what I'm reading?
  • Should I look for another source?
  • How does this fit in with what I've already got?
Selective skills including the ability to select the appropriate information and reject irrelevant information in the context of the above purpose
  • Do I really need this information?
  • Is it relevant to my topic or is it outside my particular topic?
Evaluation skills including the ability to evaluate information and ideas in relation to aspects such as the authority, reliability and currency of books, journals and websites
  • Who wrote this information and can I trust it?
  • Is it biased?
  • Is it out of date?
Recording skills including the ability to take notes in a systematic way which relates to understanding and purpose
  • What should I take notes on?
  • Should I copy and paste?
  • Will I really be able to use these notes?
  • Have I remembered to keep a note of authors, titles etc
Synthesising skills including the ability to bring together related ideas, facts and information about a topic and relating this to existing knowledge
  • How do I bring all this together?
  • Should I go back to my concept map?
  • How should I organise my notes before I start to write?
Writing or presentational skills including the ability to write an essay/report/project or give a verbal presentation, in a well structured, logically ordered manner which uses the ideas and information found to good effect
  • How will I structure my essay or talk?
  • Can I use my keywords or concept map?
  • Should I read the guidelines on the library website again?
  • Did I read the teacher's instructions correctly?
Skills - Self-evaluation Self-evaluation skills including the ability to reflect on the processes involved in assignment-related work and to identify areas of improvement in planning, finding information for and writing/presenting an assignment in the future
  • What did I learn from doing this?
  • Did I have a good concept map?
  • Did I search for information well?
  • Should I have used more keywords?
  • Did I organise my essay/talk well?
  • Did I use the guidelines on the library website well enough?
  • How should I do it differently next time?