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Primary Source Literacy: For Faculty


Subject Guide


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Assessment Suggestions

Competency 1: Identification

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Define primary sources.
  2. Define secondary sources
  3. Make distinctions between the two types of sources in ambigious cases.

Discussion: Provide examples of a primary source and a secondary source.  What distinguishes the two sources from each other?

Competency 2: Access

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Differentiate between different types of repositories.
  2. Understand differences between library and archives practices. 
  3. Understand how archives and manuscript collections are organized.
  4. Effectively use search tools to find primary sources.

Discussion: What types of repositories hold primary sources? How do they differ from libraries? How might you access primary sources at these repositories?

Competency 3: Evaluation and Interpretation

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Understand and recognize the creator.
  2. Ask thoughtful questions about creator's bias, perspective, and authority.
  3. Ask thoughtful questions about date, distribution, purpose, and physicality of item.
  4. Exhibit awareness of one's own bias.

Discussion: Is it possible to examine a record objectively? Why or why not?

Competency 4: Application

Learning Outcome:

  1. Effectively organizes and integrates information from research.
  2. Revises work based past successes, failures, and alternative strategies.
  3. Communicates the product or performance effectively to others.

Discussion: How might you revise a working thesis based on new evidence from your sources?

Competency 5: Key Issues

Learning Outcome:

  1. Understands intellectual property, copyright protection, and the fair use exception.
  2. Understands the importance of proper citation and consults with instructor on preferred documentation style.
  3. Understands the key elements of citing primary sources.
  4. Understands restrictions based on donor, institutional policy, state or federal law.
  5. Understands economic costs of researching at primary source repositories.

Discussion: What are the key elements of primary source citation?  What might be some economic barriers to researching at primary source repositoories?

About this Tutorial

Thank you for your interest in the Information Studies 210 tutorial. The tutorial focuses on understanding primary source research, including examples that illustrate how to find and analyze primary sources online. The tutorial is composed of five modules; each one dedicated to a specific element of archival literacy..

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Instructions for Reuse
This contents of the Information Studies 210 Guide may be reused with attribution. Please copy the following into new works based on this Guide. 

Creative Commons License
Information Studies 210 Guide by Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
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