Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Education


College of Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Green, Wendy

Subject Headings

Adult Education, Education, Educational Technology, Educational Theory, Information Science, Information Technology, Instructional Design


Critical thinking is widely accepted as a primary goal of higher education. The skills and dispositions of critical thinking have much in common with those of information literacy, and instruction librarians could improve their information literacy instruction by integrating critical thinking. However, it is not currently clear to what extent instruction librarians encourage critical thinking in their teaching. Moreover, rather than credit-bearing courses, much of library instruction currently consists of either “one-shot” (single class period) sessions or online learning objects which students complete asynchronously. This study focuses on online learning objects, which are often created with great effort, have long-lasting value, and may serve as a substitute for classroom learning for distance students. This study attempts to determine the ways and extent to which online information literacy learning objects follow best practices for teaching and assessing critical thinking. To accomplish this, the researcher examined a sample of information literacy online learning objects archived in the Academic and Research Library Association’s (ACRL’s) repository of peer-reviewed information literacy online instruction materials, PRIMO (Peer-Reviewed Instructional Materials Online). A representative sample of PRIMO online learning objects from the five years preceding this study was assessed against a rubric of best practices for teaching and assessing critical thinking in online information literacy learning objects. The rubric was developed based on a thorough literature review. The resulting analysis provides evidence of the extent to which information literacy online learning objects adhere to best practices for teaching and assessing critical thinking. While not all critical thinking instructional and assessment strategies were well-suited to asynchronous online learning object platforms, some strategies were used creatively and effectively in online learning objects from the sample. Some online learning objects incorporated critical thinking strategies especially successfully, showing that such incorporation is possible and providing examples of how critical thinking can be integrated into information literacy online learning objects.

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