Our active Library Instruction and Information Literacy Program includes the following instructional services:
In order to enhance student learning, librarians design face-to-face instruction sessions that are tailored to specific courses and research assignments. Faculty can contact their instruction librarian to schedule instruction in our computer-equipped instructional facilities, or they can request that librarians come to their classrooms.
To meet the learning needs of students 24/7, the library provides self-paced online tutorials and guides, including interactive, how-to screencasts that faculty can link to from their webpages or from Blackboard. Many of our tutorials contain quizzes and certificates of completion, making it easy to incorporate them into your classes as homework assignments, as extra credit, or as part of students' class participation grade.
Librarians are available to work with faculty on teaching and learning projects, such as:
2. Clearly describe your research expectations in your syllabus, in your assignments, and in class discussions. Make sure students know what types of sources are and are not appropriate for research in your discipline and what types of tools they should use to find them.
3. Make sure your assignment clearly states your expectations about the quality of sources students should use. If students can still get a good grade by relying on random websites that are not written by experts in the field, then they have no real incentive to use scholarly resources. That being said, do not forbid the use of web based materials. Rather, require that students use "scholarly" or "refereed" journals. That way, the quality of the publication is the key point, not its medium.
4. Explain the difference between searching the free web and searching online databases. Students need to know that the expensive databases the library subscribes to usually provide quality information that is much easier to find than the kind of hit-or-miss Web searching students often do. When the Web is the best or sole source for the kind of information you require, recommend specific sites, specific expert lists of links, or specific directories to help them find authoritative, timely and useful information.
5. Teach research strategy when appropriate. Include a list of steps involved in the research assigned. Invite your library faculty subject specialist to review strategies for the assignment with the class and discuss appropriate tools or types of materials.
6. Source evaluation is particularly difficult for students. Consider designing an assignment or activity that asks them to explain why they chose each of their sources, why they believe they are reputable, and how they plan to use them in their papers.
7. Explain to students that they need to search for "journal articles" not "journals." Contemporary library tools are now more geared to finding articles in databases than looking for individual journals by title. Telling students that they need to get some "articles" on a subject rather than "journals" goes a long way in avoiding confusion.
8. If students say "the library doesn't have anything on my topic," encourage them to set up an appointment with a librarian, as the reality is that we probably do have material on the topic, or if not, we can probably get it from another library.
9. Get to know the librarian for your department. S/he would be happy to design a face-to-face instruction session or research guide to help your students with specific research projects.
10. Always be sure the library holds the needed information. There are few experiences more frustrating than looking for what does not exist or has been checked out. Use the Library's Reserve service for materials that many students need to use. Send an advance copy of the assignment and its due date to your library faculty subject specialist or the Library's Information Literacy Coordinator.
11. Avoid the mob scene. Dozens of students using just one print source usually leads to misplacement, loss, or mutilation of materials. Give students a variety of topics and sources. Use our online materials as well as course reserves as needed.
12. Avoid scavenger hunts. Searching for obscure facts (outside of a meaningful context in which students have a real need to find and learn about those facts) frustrates students and teaches them very little about the research process (which includes not only having an authentic need for information but also using that information for some specific purpose--to solve a problem; make a decision; present information to others in the form of a paper, report, or speech; etc.). If planning a library exercise, talk to your library faculty subject specialist about designing as assignment that positions the use of library resources within a meaningful, inquiry-based context.