Leveraging Library Instruction in a Digital Age

Leveraging Library Instruction in a Digital Age

Robert Hallis (University of Central Missouri, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2802-9.ch001

Abstract

Information management is an indispensable skill in the twenty-first century because finding credible information is now more complicated than ever before. Students continue to experience difficulty locating accurate information, especially for their academic assignments. Studies reveal that a number of factors undermine students' success in locating relevant information and that personal intervention may prove to be the most efficient means of teaching this proficiency. Librarians, however, seldom have more than a class period in which to intervene. Even an hour is enough to mentor students in appropriate techniques in order to allow them to complete their assignment, if virtual support is effective. This chapter illustrates how learning objectives can effectively serve to separate classroom activities in a face-to-face environment from virtually accessed digital instruction. An assignment from a second semester composition class serves as an example of how a teacher can leverage instruction in a face-to-face environment through providing supplemental online content.
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Background

At the University of Central Missouri, the general education curriculum consists of a 42-hour block of courses that introduce the skills and knowledge students need for college work. Six hours of the general education curriculum are devoted to English composition and an extended essay is a cumulative assignment in the second semester course. Essays generally involve supporting an opinion regarding a current event, and the student needs to locate credible information to support their argument. The simplicity of the task obscures the complexity of framing a question, locating relevant information, evaluating those sources, and integrating them in a compelling essay. Professors’ expectations, students’ experiences, and librarians’ preferences further complicate the task. Ten brief essays provide an insight into the challenges librarians face when they are asked to work with students in completing such an assignment in this new environment (Oakleaf, Hoover, Woodard, Corbin, & Hensley, 2012). These perspectives reveal the tendency to cover too much material in a single session, an inclination to approach these sessions as though we are providing training for librarians rather than assistance to students, and issues with collaborating with faculty.

Clearly, students need to develop a number of practical skills when they use the resources of a modern library for academic work. Students need a familiarity with the physical and virtual spaces in which library resources are housed. They must be aware of the tools which are used to locate these resources and have an understanding of how to use them. They also need to recognize when they need help and know where to find it. Students must also possess a familiarity with the topic of the assignment, including, for example, names, dates, significant issues, and related topics. Finally, students need critical thinking skills in order to frame their topic, to find appropriate sources to inform their essay, and to evaluate the relevance of this information in relation to their argument. It is not possible to cover all the necessary knowledge and skills in a class period, and, even if it would, … students would forget. Creating integrated virtual supplements gives students an opportunity to dig deeper into unfamiliar areas, as well as to review information they may have forgotten.

Librarians have provided supplementary material for years, but current technology provides a more interactive way to demonstrate these skills in a virtual environment. Nevertheless, effectively linking the instructional environment to supplementary material has received little or no attention in the literature. Intentionally using learning objectives provides a technique to focus the instruction to specific tasks. A brief survey of the literature exposes challenges students experience, the expectations professors have, and the efforts librarians have made to mediate instruction. Rewriting instructional goals into formal learning objects provides a context for judging which outcomes are best addressed in a F2F environment and which are most appropriate for virtual instruction.

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