This course is about theory and application of those skills. It is paired with and a prerequisite for INFO 507 Information Research Methods. As such, you will learn some of the background theories that are needed to conduct research.

Academic Year: 


Course ID and Name: 

Section Number: 

Course Syllabus

Course Prerequisites: 

Same as MS in Information Program requirements.

Course Description: 

This course introduces fundamental ideas of the Information Age, focusing on the value, organization, use, and processing of information. The course is organized as a survey of these ideas, with readings from the research literature. Specific topics (e.g.., visualization, retrieval) will be covered by guest faculty who research in each of these areas. Students are required to use software applications to complete a set of exercises and program simple computer programs in C, Java, Python, or Perl, in addition to a public presentation.


On diversity:

Like many courses in the School of Information, this course will incorporate diversity issues.  For instance, the section on Information Policy will touch on cultural competence related to the issue of Cultural Property.  Also, the Usability and Findability of Information for various cultural groups and marginalized groups will be discussed. 

Course Objective: 

Learning objectives

Students will:

·      Become familiar with different facets of information in society.

·      Learn fundamentals of information theory.

·      Learn how to make information usable through visualization, promoting information quality, promoting information literacy, etc.

·      Learn how to make information findable by using retrieval models for unstructured information, recommender algorithms and database query languages for structured information, etc.

·      Be introduced to information policy, including intellectual freedom, privacy, intellectual property, economics of information, etc.

·      Be able to discuss, identify, and conceptualize issues involving information literacy.

·      Understand the role of cultural competence in information issues.

Required Course Materials: 

This will include journal articles from the library. There is no class book.

Course Requirements: 

Course Grading: 

Grades are based on three papers, one or more blog post assignment as discussed below, and weekly research assignment (also discussed below). The grading scheme assigns 20% of the overall grade to each of the papers and classroom discussion of that paper, 15% leading class discussions and blog posts, 10% to the weekly reports and discussion o those reports, and 15% for in-class participation. Because most assignments have an in class component attendance is required to expect to pass the courses. If you are barred from class for inappropriate behavior the associated points will be deducted.  The overall grade is computed as follows: A – 90 to 100 points, B – 80 to 89 points, C – 70 to 79 points, D – 60 to 69 points, and E – below 60 points.  


As indicated in the previous section, after the introductory section on information in society, the course will be divided into four main areas:

1.     Theories of Information

2.     Making Information Usable

3.     Making Information Findable

4.     Information Policy


You will be required to write three short papers during the semester.  For each paper you should choose a topic that falls within one of the above four areas.  Each paper should be 5 to 10 pages double-spaced.  Papers are due a week after the completion of the area of the course that they fall within. (See the course schedule for the precise dates.)

You can choose whatever topic you like for these papers.  For instance, your topics might easily be related to work that you plan to do for your dissertation. The paper should have an explicit thesis and it should marshal evidence in favor of that thesis.  For instance, you might argue that so-and-so's theory of information is incorrect.  Also, you might argue that such-and-such is a good information retrieval technique. You should appeal to a substantial list of works cited that goes beyond the assigned readings for the course.  (Ideally, the instructor should learn something new from your papers.)  Further details about the paper assignment will be discussed during the first class meeting.

Blog post  and class lead assignment:

The course will have a private blog for discussion.  You will be required to write three blog post during the semester.  Your blog post will introduce and summarize the readings for a particular week and the author will use this post as the basis for leading a class discussion that week.  (There will be a signup sheet available at the first class meeting.)  Your blog post should be posted by the end of the Sunday preceding that particular week.  Other students should read this post along with the readings for the week and come to class ready to discuss the main points. 

Like any good blog post, please try to make it interesting and engaging.  For instance, include pictures, include links, suggest questions for discussion, tie the week's topic to current events, etc.  Further details about the assignment will be discussed during the first class meeting.

Weekly research assignments:

Each week, students must find and read one additional highly-cited research paper on that week’s topic. Then they should post a brief synopsis of the paper and a few questions for discussion in D2L.


All assignments must be submitted electronically, either in the D2L dropbox or the class blog, by 11:59 P.M.. on the indicated day.

Grade Disputes

Disputes about grades on a particular assignment will be entertained for two weeks from the day the assignment is graded, or 1 day after the end of classes, whichever is sooner. These will be resolved by re-grading the entire work. Note that this can result in a lower grade in the event that new mistakes are discovered.

No negotiations about individual students’ letter grades will be entertained once final grades are assigned, except as permitted by the policy stated above.


Course Policies: 

Accessibility and Accommodations

It is the University’s goal that learning experiences be as accessible as possible.  If you anticipate or experience physical or academic barriers based on disability, please let me know immediately so that we can discuss options.  You are also welcome to contact Disability Resources (520-621-3268) to establish reasonable accommodations.  For additional information on Disability Resources and reasonable accommodations, please visit
If you have reasonable accommodations, please plan to meet with me by appointment or during office hours to discuss accommodations and how my course requirements and activities may impact your ability to fully participate.
Please be aware that the accessible table and chairs in this room should remain available for students who find that standard classroom seating is not usable.

Student Code of Academic Integrity

Students are encouraged to share intellectual views and discuss freely the principles and applications of course materials. However, graded work/exercises must be the product of independent effort unless otherwise instructed. Students are expected to adhere to the UA Code of Academic Integrity as described in the UA General Catalog. See:
The University Libraries have some excellent tips for avoiding plagiarism available at:
Selling class notes and/or other course materials to other students or to a third party for resale is not permitted without the instructor’s express written consent.  Violations to this and other course rules are subject to the Code of Academic Integrity and may result in course sanctions.  Additionally, students who use D2L or UA email to sell or buy these copyrighted materials are subject to Code of Conduct Violations for misuse of student email addresses. This conduct may also constitute copyright infringement.

Additional Resources for Students

UA Non-discrimination and Anti-harassment policy:
UA Academic policies and procedures are available at:
Student Assistance and Advocacy information is available at:              

Confidentiality of Student Records


Subject to Change Statement

Information contained in the course syllabus, other than the grade and absence policy, may be subject to change with advance notice, as deemed appropriate by the instructor.

Classroom Behavior

To foster a positive learning environment, students may not text, chat, make phone calls, play games, read the newspaper or surf the web during lecture and discussion.  Students are asked to refrain from disruptive conversations with people sitting around them during lecture.  Students observed engaging in disruptive activity will be asked to cease this behavior.  Students who continue to disrupt the class will be asked to leave lecture or discussion and may be reported to the Dean of Students.
The Arizona Board of Regents’ Student Code of Conduct, ABOR Policy 5-308, prohibits threats of physical harm to any member of the University community, including to one’s self.  See: 

Collaboration Policy

Students are encouraged to work together, both in class / office hours and otherwise, to understand problems and general approaches for solutions. However, all assignments must be completed individually. Copying another person’s work (even if it comes from a website) is not permitted and will be treated as a case of academic dishonesty.

Late Policy

Projects are due electronically by the stated deadline. Permission for an extension must be granted by the instructor in advance of the deadline in order to receive full credit for a late submission. The first request by a given student is likely to be granted; the probability decreases with each subsequent request.

Attendance is required. There is very significant discussion in the class.
All University Policies apply.

Creative Commons License
This work by P. Bryan Heidorn, University of Arizona is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Meeting Time: 

Wednesday 5:30-8:15 Modern Languages, Rm 314


This is a core required class and is a prerequisite for INFO 507.
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences