Identifying information literacy skills and behaviors in the curricular competencies of health professions


  • Micah J. Waltz Lecturer, Veterinary Integrative Biosciences Department, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, and Joint Appointment to Medical Sciences Library, University Libraries, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
  • Heather K. Moberly Dorothy G. Whitley Professor and Coordinator of Veterinary Services, Medical Sciences Library, University Libraries, and Joint Appointment to Veterinary Integrative Biosciences Department, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
  • Esther E. Carrigan Professor and Deputy Director, Medical Sciences Library, University Libraries, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX



Curricular Competencies, Information Literacy, Evidence-Based Practice, Medical Education


Objective: This research identified the presence of information skill and behaviors components of information literacy in curricular competencies to inform a medical sciences library’s instructional schema for five different professional programs at Texas A&M University: College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, and School of Public Health.

Methods: Curricular competency documents were collected from each program and reviewed. Coding categories were identified from the curricular competencies of professional health curricula using data-driven qualitative coding. To guide the identification and coding of competency categories, we developed a seven-category rubric from the coding categories. Three researchers used this rubric to independently code the categories of all of the included professional health curricular competencies. An additional researcher used a revised version of the rubric to identify action verbs in each competency.

Results: Competencies for four of the five professional health curricula explicitly stated information skills and behaviors. Each of the five curricula included several competencies that depended on information-specific skills and behaviors. The most common verb used to describe implicit or explicit competencies was “evaluate.”

Conclusions: The representation of information skills and behaviors aligns with the drive behind the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. Both underpin the importance of evidence-based medicine methodology.


Dinkelman AL, Viera AR, Bickett-Weddle DA. The role of veterinary medical librarians in teaching information literacy. J Vet Med Educ. 2011 Summer;38(2):141–9. DOI:

Tagge N. Leveraging accreditation to integrate sustainable information literacy instruction into the medical school curriculum. J Med Libr Assoc. 2018 Jul;106(3):377–82. DOI:

Medical Library Association. Professional development: professional competencies [Internet]. The Association; 2017 [cited 30 Apr 2019]. <>.

Association of College & Research Libraries. Framework for information literacy for higher education [Internet]. American Library Association [cited 26 Jan 2019]. <>.

Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL). Information literacy competency standards for nursing [Internet]. The Association; 2013 [cited 30 Apr 2019]. <>.

Englander R, Cameron T, Ballard AJ, Dodge J, Bull J, Aschenbrener CA. Toward a common taxonomy of competency domains for the health professions and competencies for physicians. Acad Med. 2013 Aug;88(8):1088–94.

Jones MD, Rosenberg AA, Gilhooly JT, Carraccio CL. Perspective: competencies, outcomes, and controversy—linking professional activities to competencies to improve resident education and practice. Acad Med. 2011 Feb;86(2):161–5.

Sackett DL, Rosenberg WMC, Gray JAM, Haynes RB, Richardson WS. Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn’t. BMJ. 1996 Jan 13;312(7023):71–2.

Cockcroft P, Holmes M. Handbook of evidence-based veterinary medicine. John Wiley & Sons; 2008. 227 p.

de Groot M, van der Wouden JM, van Hell EA, Nieweg MB. Evidence-based practice for individuals or groups: let’s make a difference. Perspect Med Educ. 2013 Sep;2(4):216–21.

Texas A&M University College of Medicine. Competency based learning objectives. The University; 2017.

Texas A&M University College of Nursing. Graduate student learning outcomes. The University; 2017.

Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. New graduate outcomes and competency rubrics. The University; 2018.

Texas A&M University Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy. Professional competencies. The University; 2011.

Texas A&M University School of Public Health. Competencies. The University; 2017.

MAXQDA [Internet]. Berlin, Germany: VERBI Software; 2017 [cited 22 May 2020]. <>.

Gibbs G. Thematic coding and categorizing. In: Analyzing qualitative data. London, England, UK: SAGE Publications; 2007. p. 38–49. DOI:

Dey I. Qualitative data analysis: a user-friendly guide for social scientists. Routledge; 1993. 309 p.

Arlt SP, Heuwieser W. Training students to appraise the quality of scientific literature. J Vet Med Educ. Summer 2011;38(2):135–40. DOI:

Bloom BS. Taxonomy of educational objectives: the classification of educational goals. 1st ed. New York, NY: Longman; 1956.

Biggs J. Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment. High Educ. 1996 Oct 1;32(3):347–64.

Sweller J. Cognitive load theory, learning difficulty, and instructional design. Learn Instr. 1994 Jan 1;4(4):295–312.

Squire LR, Kandel ER. Memory: from mind to molecules. Macmillan; 2003. 258 p.

Mookherjee S, Chang A, Boscardin CK, Hauer KE. How to develop a competency-based examination blueprint for longitudinal standardized patient clinical skills assessments. Med Teach. 2013 Nov 1;35(11):883–90.

Wiggins GP, McTighe J. Understanding by design. Expanded 2nd ed. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development; 2005. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Villarroel V, Boud D, Bloxham S, Bruna D, Bruna C. Using principles of authentic assessment to redesign written examinations and tests. Innov Educ Teach Int. 2020 Jan;57(1):38–49.

Wood D, Bruner JS, Ross G. The role of tutoring in problem solving. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1976 Apr;17(2):89–100.

Hawkins RE, Welcher CM, Holmboe ES, Kirk LM, Norcini JJ, Simons KB, Skochelak SE. Implementation of competency-based medical education: are we addressing the concerns and challenges? Med Educ. 2015 Nov;49(11):1086–102.






Original Investigation