Madison Research Essentials:  Information Literacy Competency @ JMU

James Madison University believes that the fundamental knowledge and skills you need to navigate the landscape of scholarly information are necessary for successful completion of your university classes.  Information literacy skills are foundational to your university coursework and as such are included in Cluster One of General Education.  All students completing General Education at JMU are required to pass the Madison Research Essentials Skills Test (MREST) within the first academic year at JMU. 

Information Literacy Competencies

The Madison Research Essentials Toolkit, Practice Exercises and the MREST are designed to help you develop and achieve the following student learning outcomes.

  • Recognize the components of scholarly work and that scholarship can take many forms.
    • Knowledge, skills, dispositions required: recognizing the hallmarks of scholarship regardless of form, matching an information need to a suitable source, recognition of the University as a specific type of information landscape, creativity in using a variety of scholarship in their own work
  • Demonstrate persistence and employ multiple strategies in research and discovery processes
    • Knowledge, skills, dispositions required: choosing appropriate research tools, employ efficient searching techniques, recognize that searching is a skill that requires multiple attempts to find the most useful information
  • Identify gaps in their own knowledge and formulate appropriate questions for investigation in academic settings
    • Knowledge, skills, dispositions required: an openness to explore new and challenges topics and projects, a willingness to find how scholarship leads to further understanding, a willingness to investigate prior knowledge or assumptions, ability to formulate a manageable research question suitable for an academic audience.
  • Evaluate the quality of information and acknowledge expertise
    • Knowledge, skills, dispositions required: understand the significance of credentials and traits that make an expert an expert. Distinguish between what counts as high quality information in an academic setting.  An ability to verify claims with evidence.
  • Use information effectively in their work and make contextually appropriate choices for sharing their own scholarship.
    • Knowledge, skills, dispositions required: Effective use source material within their own work regardless of platform (paper, presentation, poster, etc.), using technology or platforms effectively to help an audience or reader understand the purpose of a work.
  • Use information ethically and legally.
    • Knowledge, skills, dispositions required: Recognize that scholarship has value to an author, distinguish between original and attributed ideas and effectively cite utilized sources.

JMU offers you three opportunities to acquire these skills. 

  1. Course-related assignments that require students to find information.
  2. Madison Research Essential Skills Toolkit, is available on the library webpage and is useful throughout your university career
  3. Madison Research Essential Skills Tutorial.  This tutorial is completed by students enrolled in SCOM100 level courses.

Taking the MREST

Once you have acquired the information literacy skills listed above you are ready to take the JMU’s graduation requirement, Madison Research Essential Skills Test (MREST).  Because information literacy is critical to the mission of the university you must complete this test during your first academic year.  MREST is a proctored, secured competency test given only in the Assessment and Testing Center during lab hours. For Questions regarding the Assessment and Testing Center at testingcenter@jmu.edu. You must successfully pass the MREST prior to Spring Break of your first academic year.

Successful passing of the MREST will be noted on your transcript. Students who score high will earn an advanced status.  Students who fail may review the Madison Research Toolkit.  Students who do not pass by the deadline will have a registration hold placed on their academic record.  This registration hold will prevent you from dropping, adding or swapping courses.  Within two weeks of successful completion of this graduation milestone you will be able view your passing scores via myMadison.  There are several places within MyMadison where your MREST scores are visible (use the drop down menu labeled “Other Academic” and chose one of the following; academic requirements, view test scores, or transcript: view unofficial). 

You may take the MREST as many times as you need to in order pass, but you are only allowed one attempt per day.  If you are struggling to pass the MREST, tutoring assistance is available to you in the Communication Center housed in the Student Success Center. Any additional questions regarding the MREST may be directed to Kathy Clarke (clarkeke@jmu.edu).

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