Information and Digital Literacy Explained

Research as Inquiry


Engage in an iterative process of inquiry that defines a problem or poses a question and through research generates a reasonable solution or answer.


This dimension focuses on the research process. This process begins when curiosity or a class assignment prompts a student to ask a question or investigate a problem. This is not a straight-forward process, however. Research may lead to new questions or new problems or may require the student to go back and refine their original premise. Students need to be flexible when researching, such as adopting the problem solving process of trial and error. Students may hit dead-ends with their research, find new information, or be asked to examine their personal beliefs. They’ll need to revise their question or problem so it’s appropriate to the task at hand. At the end of this process, the student will have gathered enough information to explore a focused research question and respond to the question or solve the problem.

Rubric Translation

According to UNM’s Information and Digital Literacy rubric

0=No Evidence

There is no recognition of research characteristics and how they are related to new knowledge.

  • There is no product to assess, or the product does not include research.


Recognition that research is an iterative, non-linear, creative process that leads to new knowledge and requires curiosity, reflection, critical thinking, and persistence is evident.

  • The student understands that research is a process that may involve trial and error. The student demonstrates flexibility in their topic and/or research and may revise their research question or problem. The student may have difficulty finding information or finding appropriate information.


The ability to locate and evaluate relevant information following from a problem defined or question posed is evident; a recognition that scholarship is the result of a conversation that occurs over time among communities engaged in research is apparent.

  • The student asks research questions or identifies problems. They can find appropriate information for their specific information need (i.e. may use academic journal articles when appropriate or blogs or magazines etc). The student understands who is producing this information and is intentional when choosing information from different times (I.e. uses current scholarship for a rapidly changing topic or seeking out historic information if looking in the past).


An appropriate scope for an investigation is defined, research questions are formulated, research questions are subsequently reframed based on new information; ideas gathered from multiple sources are analyzed, evaluated, and synthesized to draw reasonable conclusions.

  • The student’s research question or topic is not too specific, nor too broad, but just right for the assignment. During their research process, the student shows flexibility and adjusts their topic or question based on initial research findings. The student uses a variety of appropriate sources on which to base their findings or claims. These sources are smoothly integrated into the final assignment. For example, the student blends their own voice with the information they found by quoting and paraphrasing when appropriate and giving proper credit.

Editing a Wikipedia article

Have students choose a few existing Wikipedia entries they’re interested in. Ask them to identify gaps in them and then have them try to find information to fill those gaps. Ask students to keep a process log where they explain what they added and why, how they found that information, and what dead ends they hit. At the end, have them write a reflection about what they learned during the process, start to finish, and how that process might apply to other times they’ll do research.

Stand-alone assignment

Ask students to reflect upon the steps they went through when researching a major purchase or event in their lives (e.g. buying a car, selecting a college, etc.). Let them identify the steps involved in the research behind such a decision and their relative effectiveness in achieving the desired outcome, then consider how they might use a similar strategy in the academic setting.
(From U of Cincinnati)


  • ask them to hypothetically make a major purchase/event
  • interview someone about a major event/purchase from their life (this has the added bonus of conducting primary research)
  • interview two people about the same event and see how their process differed