Faculty Services

Faculty Information Literacy Stipends Awarded

Spring 2020

The Information Literacy assignment for Caroyln Smith-Morris’ course, titled “Health Ethics in Real News” asks students to choose a health-related current issue and follow it through 6 news reports spanning at least 6 months of elapsed time. Students must evaluate and select news reports for their conformity to the International Federation of Journalists Code of Principles, including transparency, ethical and credible information sourcing, and balanced point of view. In the process, students are tasked with learning about the news media landscape and how bias in news reporting might be assessed.  Students will then use these articles to prepare two papers identifying the moral obligations (e.g., norms, principles, virtues, traits) and agents in each article (3 per paper) and evaluating the issue using 6 steps of moral reasoning learned in class.

Megan Heuer, Head of Information Literacy, and Evelyn Day, Social Sciences Librarian, led two class sessions the asked students to examine the news media landscape and discuss and evaluate various news articles.  Some of the content that was created for this course is captured in shareable Canvas modules in the Commons for other instructors to use in their courses.



LaiYee Leong

Fall 2019

In Dr. LaiYee Leong’s course Movements and Protests, students were tasked with conducting independent research on a case study in order to make and oral presentation and write a term paper in order to explain and discuss the extent to which the data obtained from primary and secondary sources support or undermine a particular existing theory about mass mobilization, and how the theory might be modified or subjected to further testing.  The assignment was designed so that students learn to determine the nature and extent of needed information for hypothesis testing, to assess existing information available from a multitude of sources and identify information gaps, to synthesize ideas from various sources, and to see themselves as contributors to scholarship rather than only consumers of it.

Megan Heuer, Head of Information Literacy, led a class session to get the students thinking about the nature of information dissemination during a protest and how that impacts source evaluation, particularly with changes in information and communication technology in the 21st century.  Rafia Mirza, Humanities Librarian, worked with the students on identifying primary sources related to their specific case studies and strategies for discovering them, considering limitations and challenges of finding those primary sources.  Sarah Jenkins, Reference and Instruction Services Librarian, created a course-specific research guide to support students in discovering primary and secondary sources for their case studies.




Jessica Burnham and Hollie Gardner

Spring 2019

Jessica Burnham, Director of Design and Innovation programs and Clinical Assistant Professor, designed her semester-long Advanced Design Research Strategies course assignment to require each student develop their research plan from start to finish as well as start to operate the Design Research process in order to gain more insights. This includes extensive secondary research, primary research, in-depth one-on-one interviews, transcription, externalization, and synthesis. Throughout the project, students will also learn citation management, strategic searching and exploration, managing research data, transcript analysis, and the IRB process. Through a series of scaffolded exercises and benchmarks, students will have opportunities to show their work and gain and apply feedback.

Jessica Burnham will collaborate with Hollie Gardner through focused tutorials and instruction sessions on searching databases or other sources available to students after graduation, organizing secondary research, and how to search intuitively for things that will support their research but might not seem obvious. Hollie will come into our classroom several times throughout the semester as well as help students individually on an as-needed basis. Jessica will work with Hollie to develop rubrics for assessing student learning of information literacy skills at each benchmark. This collaboration will serve as a prototype for how information literacy skills can be taught across the entire program.


Professor Burnham's Proposal

Aria Zan Cabot is bringing lessons in media literacy to her students in Intermediate Italian. For the first assignment, students will analyze an article from an Italian news outlet on their chosen topic, focusing on vocabulary, grammar, content, and form, and some paratextual elements. They will also identify journalistic norms, different types of authority, sourcing, and bias. The second assignment tracks student progress through the process of their database search, results management, and selection of their second article on the same topic in English. Students will work collaboratively on their final presentation in which they will present, synthesize, and evaluate two articles to demonstrate how media representation of the same event or issue represented in an Italian vs. a U.S. news outlet and how the larger socio-linguistic context impacts content, bias, and assumptions about audience/readership.

Rafia Mirza, Humanities Librarian, and Megan Heuer, Head of Information Literacy, will offer one media evaluation workshop and one instruction session to teach the information literacy components relevant to the assignment: identifying different types of authority; evaluating for bias; developing database search skills; managing results; and evaluating and synthesizing competing perspectives. Students will gain hands-on practice understanding and identifying journalistic norms, sourcing, and evaluating for bias. Librarians will be available to provide assistance as students search U.S. news outlets to identify one example of how their topic is represented in the United States.

Professor Cabot's Proposal

Professor Cabot's Report


Librarian Rafia Mirza and Dr. Brian Franklin

Dr. Brian Franklin, Adjunct Professor in the Department of History, was awarded a stipend for his "Engaging with Historical Texas Newspapers" assignment. Students will identify and carefully read eight issues of two historical Texas newspapers, write a multi-part briefing which describes the content of those newspapers, and write a summary thesis which makes an argument about the content therein and interacts with secondary scholarship. Each student learning outcome associated with this assignment is derived from the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, developed by the Association of College and Research Libraries. 1) Searching as Strategic Exploration –Students will learn through practice that searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, which will require them to be creative and flexible. Students will practice this in their search for and identification of their historical newspapers (primary sources) and academic books and articles which illuminate their understanding of these newspapers (secondary sources). 2) Authority is Constructed and Contextual –Students will read, analyze, and assess the information and narratives provided by both historical newspapers (primary sources) and academic books and articles (secondary sources). Students will develop both a sense of skepticism and self-awareness as they examine sources, and will learn to search for and assess authoritative sources on any given subject. 3) Scholarship as Conversation –This assignment embeds the principle of all scholarship as conversation rather than settled fact. Students will engage explicitly with secondary sources that address the issues addressed in their historical newspapers. By doing so, they will enter into an ongoing scholarly conversation about a historical moment.

Rafia Mirza, the SMU History Librarian, will collaborate by offering workshop sessions that support the Information Literacy outcomes of the course: introducing students to search strategies for newspapers, for information about those newspapers' journalists and publishers, and for academic secondary sources. DeGoyler Library's Christina Jensen will introduce students to SMU's archives of historical newspapers.

Professor Franklin's Proposal

Professor Franklin's Report

Emma Wilson’s course in Literature and Digital Humanities explores how technology is being used to analyze, represent, and promote literary research. With a 3-stage Digital Project Assignment, students will create their own public-facing web resource of materials about SMU’s original amateur dramatics group, the Arden Club, which performed a rigorous schedule of plays every year from 1916 until 1969. Students will be searching for, researching, curating, digitizing, creating metadata for, and presenting items from special collections to document the Arden Club.

To support students’ research into SMU’s Arden Club, Prof. Wilson will collaborate with: Rebecca Graff, Research Librarian for English, will design sessions on: finding primary and secondary sources; evaluating sources; creating effective search strategies; using controlled vocabularies; and developing targeted keywords. Emily Grubbs, Archivist in the Hamon Arts Library, will introduce students to hands-on archival research. Cindy Boeke, Assistant Director at the Norwick Center for Digital Solutions, will help students learn how information is processed and mediated when it is digitized. Students will apply this knowledge as they create their own digital database.  

Professor Wilson's Proposal

Professor Wilson's Report

SMU Arden Club Website


Photo of Professor McCrossen and Rafia Mirza

Fall 2018

Alexis McCrossen, Professor in History, is a specialist in the cultural history of the United States; she has studied the history of Sunday, of clocks and watches, and of New Year’s observances. Her Fall 2018 class, the History Department’s Junior Research Seminar, will guide students through the process of researching and writing an original research paper about a topic in US social and cultural history.


Searching as strategic exploration is central to this course, which requires students to choose a topic, identify their sources, assess their sources for relevancy, use creativity and insight to find needles in the haystack. They will thus need to manage the search process itself so that what the discover during their wide-ranging search will inform and enliven their final papers.

Rafia Mirza, SMU's Humanities Research Librarian, will prepare learning activities and workshops introducing students to 1) digital repositories of archival primary sources; 2) digital repositories of newspapers and periodicals; 3) search strategies for secondary sources; and 4) citation and research management strategies.

DeGoyler Library's Russell Martin and Joan Gosnell will introduce students to SMU's archives of historical materials

Professor McCrossen's Proposal

Professor McCrossen's Report

Spring 2018

Katherine O'Brien Harclerode is an English Ph.D. student with a focus on the Digital humanities. Her course, DISC 1313 Inquiry Seminar: Leadership and Text Mining, will help students explore the concept of leadership in multiple contexts, showing students that authority is constructed and contextual. The assignments encourage students to reevaluate their dispositions towards people who are different from them, practicing intellectual empathy. Further, the course teaches students the value of code-switching as a strategic method for successful interdisciplinary collaboration. Information literacy assignments in this course help students gain experience in adapting their use of language to suit an array of rhetorical purposes. To this end, students will to develop a lexicon of leadership-related terms and use this lexicon to perform text mining in RStudio.

Rebecca Graff, Research Librarian, will provide an in-class research and lexicography workshop, giving students hands-on practice understanding and applying controlled vocabulary from various academic disciplines. She also will help guide students in using their lexicons to identify language trends in digital corpora using RStudio.

Jonathan McMichael, User Experience Librarian, will facilitate a research workshop and counsel students in finding and incorporating reliable source information on historical contexts. In addition, he will lead an in-class workshop on SMU’s video-making platform, One Button Studio.

Professor Harclerode's Proposal

Professor Harclerode's Report

Fall 2017

Dr. Karisa Cloward, Associate Professor of Political Science, is a specialist in Sub-Saharan African politics.  Her class “Government and Politics of Africa” will incorporate traditional library research methods with a new opportunity to learn GIS spatial skills and data analysis. Students will apply these skills to writing assignments this fall.

Many of Dr. Cloward’s students come to her class with little knowledge of Africa, culturally or geographically. Because the writing assignments require deep examination of a country’s political institutions, development, and experience with conflict, there is an essential need for students to be able to generate compelling questions that lead to a high level of research and writing. Exposure to GIS training and the map-building process provides a different way for students to see interesting or puzzling spatial correlations between different sets of country-specific data. This data, along with traditional academic journal research, can lead students to new, more expansive ideas about a continent that is relatively new to them.  Examining and incorporating the new ideas into excellent finished writing assignments is the ultimate goal of this project.

Julia Stewart, Social Science Librarian, and Sylvia George-Williams, Engineering Librarian, and Jessie Zarazaga, GIS specialist and PhD candidate in the Lyle School of Engineering, will collaborate to teach the information literacy components relevant to Dr. Cloward’s writing assignments. These skills include data and spatial literacy, as well as database search skills and Chicago-style citation competencies.

Dr. Cloward's Proposal

Dr. Cloward's Final Report

Jennifer Sullivan and Jessica Lott

Summer 2017

Jessica Lott, a PhD candidate in medical anthropology who is also seeking her graduate certificate in Women's and Gender Studies, was awarded the Information Literacy Stipend for her creation of a project that requires students in her Gender and Sex Roles: a Cross-cultural Perspective course, to actively engage in knowledge creation in the collaborative, online platform, Wikipedia. Throughout this project, students will learn how knowledge is produced and consumed online, how both individual and cultural biases are woven into this space, and how their own actions online can either contribute to or offer an alternative to biased viewpoints and ideals. These lessons are critical ones for students to learn, as this era of participatory authorship and online consumption moves forward at an exponential rate.  

Jennifer Sullivan, the librarian who is collaborating with Jessica on this project, will work with students to help them build an understanding of their role as participants in online knowledge production by guiding them through the process of creating and editing Wikipedia pages on a topic relevant to the course. This guidance will include lessons on recognizing where the gaps in knowledge occur, where the biases lie, and how to rectify these issues. Students will gain experience in maintaining a neutral point of view in their writing; locating, analyzing and using authoritative references as their sources; and writing within the style required by Wikipedia. 

This project and this course will hopefully leave students with the skills and affects needed in order to be confident and ethical participants in our sharing society.   


Professor Lott's Proposal

Professor Lott's Final Report

Beverly Mitchell and Eileen Maxson

Spring 2017

Eileen Maxson, Senior Lecturer in Meadows School of the Arts, designed a three-part assignment to help the students in her course, Special Topics in Photography: Developing a Body of Work, understand how the process of research can be a method of developing, contextualizing, supporting and challenging their work as visual artists.  First, the students create an annotated bibliography relevant to their area of interest, and then partner up to interview each other as artists, crafting questions and answers that are in part informed by their research. Finally, the students write an artist’s statement as a written complement to their visual work, providing context and background.

 Beverly Mitchell, the librarian for the studio art division, will be working with Eileen to deliver in-class instruction sessions on strategies for developing keywords, evaluating information in a wide variety of formats, and citing and annotating sources.

 Professor Maxson's Proposal

 Professor Maxson's Final Report

Megan Heuer and Kathleen Gallagher

Fall 2016

Dr. Kathleen Gallagher, Associate Professor of Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship, redesigned her graduate level course with information literacy in mind. The major course assignment is broken out into individual components which address specific information literacy concepts such as developing effective search strategies, avoiding plagiarism, recognizing formats, and evaluating sources as situated in the field of cultural policy. The components represent a chance for students to practice these skills and clarify their understanding of information literacy concepts ahead of the expectation of performance on their major project. Each component is assessed by rubric.

The collaborating librarian is Megan Heuer who provides an online tutorial on avoiding plagiarism for graduate students, an in-class session on search strategies for researching cultural policy, and support for research assignment design.

Dr. Gallagher’s Proposal

Dr. Gallagher's Final Report

Newman and Graff

Dr. Beth Newman, Associate Professor of English, was awarded a stipend for her proposed multi-stage annotated bibliography assignment. Students will learn how to find sources relevant to a literary topic and how scholarship is built on the discourse of a community of scholars. To do this, they will write annotations of articles and books, with appropriate attributions, in which they represent scholars' arguments and contextualize sources; indicate how those scholarly sources were identified; and join the scholarly conversation by putting forth their own interpretations of the texts and by responding to others' arguments. The staged assignments offer an opportunity for closely mentored students to enter the research process gradually, encounter a variety of scholars, and expand their own understanding of the topic. Their work will be assessed with a clearly defined rubric.

The English Department's Librarian, Rebecca Graff, will collaborate with Prof. Newman by: creating an online research guide tailored to the needs of the assignment; providing a hands-on, library research instruction session, featuring search strategies for 18th century British literature, citation management techniques, and approaches to evaluating sources; and consulting on how best to maximize the cultivation of information literacy skills in the context of Prof. Newman's course goals.

Dr. Newman’s Proposal

Dr. Newman's Final Report