Digital literacy/Information Competency Assessment Instrument

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The Information Competency Assessment Instrument (ICAI) was designed to measure information competency, i.e. “set of abilities to recognize when there is a need for information and being able to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively use that information when needed (Marshall, R. K., 2006))[1]

There are 10 dimensions:

  • Identifying the Topic: 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Determining the Requirements: 5, 6, 7, 8
  • Using Information Technologies: 9, 10, 11, 12
  • Locate & Retrieve Information: 13, 14, 15, 16
  • Information from Mass Media: 17, 18, 19, 20
  • Evaluating Information: 21, 22, 23, 24
  • Organize & Synthesize: 25, 26, 27, 28
  • Presentation of Information: 29, 30, 31, 32
  • Ethics & Legality of Information: 33, 34, 35, 36
  • Evaluating & Learning from Experience: 37, 38, 39, 40

The following items must be reverted: 2, 4, 5, 7, 11, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22, 25, 28, 29, 31, 33, 34, 38, 40

Instructions to the participants

This instrument is composed of 40 statements concerning feelings about finding and disseminating research information. Please indicate the degree to which each statement applies to you by circling the number that best fits your feelings on the statement from whether you (1) strongly disagree to (7) strongly agree. Using the following scale, please record your first impression.

List of items

1.  When given an assignment for a research paper or a speech, I feel confident determining what topic I need to search. 
2.  Sometimes I feel lost because the topic I want to research is not very clear to me. 
3.  I can take a complex topic and break it down into more useful, simpler items. 
4.  "Confused" is probably the best term to describe me when starting a project. 
5. I am sometimes unsure of how much information I need for the assignment. 
6. I know the difference between "primary" and "secondary" sources. 
7. I get confused because of the many different formats (print, electronic, etc.) when searching for information. 
8. I am certain that I can use the information I find. 

9. I know how to broaden or narrow a search using Boolean operators (AND, NOT and OR) and truncation. 
10. It is easy to interpret the results of a search. 
11. I'm not sure how to use an index (e.g. catalog, database, etc.). 
12. I can confidently get my hands on the material (by printing, e-mailing, interlibrary loan, etc.) I need. 
13. I understand the organization of materials in libraries. 
14. Government documents are confusing to me. 
15. Web search engines are unreliable. 
16.  I know the difference between an abstract and an article. 
17. Sometimes I cannot figure out for whom the information is intended. 

18. I can use many different types of media (print, video, photography, etc.) confidently as information for my topic. 
19. At times, the producer of the information is not clear. 
20. I can confidently spot inaccuracy, errors, etc. in the information from mass media. 
21. The information I find is so confusing that I don't know if I can use it. 
22. I am not confident that the information I get is accurate. 
23. The information I use is complete and reliable. 
24. I am sure that the information I have answers my question or addresses my topic. 
25. A lot of the information I find is irrelevant or unnecessary. 
26. After collecting my information, it is easy to sort by content that is similar. 
27. Sometimes my question changes depending on what information I find. 
28. If my topical outline doesn't make sense, I get discouraged. 
29. I am not sure which communication medium (transparencies, slides, video, etc.) is appropriate for the delivery of this information. 
30. I know my audience and that the information I present meets their needs. 
31. I sometimes have doubts as to why I am communicating this information. 
32. I am confident that my information is clearly and confidently presented. 
33. I'm not sure how to record or cite all my sources. 
34. I have questions about the privacy of the information I receive. 
35. I can tell when information is biased. 
36. I know when material is confidential, should not be used. 
37. While preparing a project, I am certain how it will be received by others. 
38. Feedback is demoralizing to me. 
39. I am able to learn what processes would be helpful for finding information in the future. 
40. After the presentation of the information, I'm not sure how it was received.


  1. Marshall, R. K. (2006). An instrument to measure information competency. The Journal of Literacy and Technology: An Academic Journal . Retrieved July 13, 2006 from (broken link). A pre-print is available here