Information literacy in higher ed?
November 23, 2009 2:25 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for information on methods of introducing information literacy in higher education.

I'm especially interested in methods used outside of information literacy courses. Curriculum or projects used in other courses or venues that encourages information literacy would be great. The Roxbury Community College in Massachusetts, for instance, does a library treasure hunt in the form of a mystery where clues lead the participants through the library to solve the mystery. But links to more traditional curriculum would be great as well.
posted by pahool to Education (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm a reference and instruction librarian at a small state university. I teach info lit classes, usually one-shot deals tailored to the class. I teach them how to use the databases most relevant to their subject. I ask the students to give me topics and I show them how to narrow them down and how to search for books and articles that would be useful. I also use worksheets with article citations that they have to find: which database has the full-text version, which articles have to be requested through inter-library loan.

With freshman classes I go over some basic library vocabulary and concepts, do some searching. I've also done a treasure hunt kind of thing in which they have to locate stuff on a map of our rather small library, and have to select books (reference books, other books, leisure reading, etc.) that interest them. This prevents the from just copying from classmates.

I encourage them to ask for help, I'm the only reference librarian here and I want them to feel comfortable asking for help. I tell them my motto is "no question is too weird or too dumb" and they believe me.

Memail me if you want and I'll send you copies of stuff I use. My favorite cousin works at Roxbury CC.
posted by mareli at 6:15 PM on November 23, 2009

Not to be negative or anything, but if you want librarians to hate you, assign a scavenger hunt. No, really, students don't learn much in any I have ever seen, and they generally end up eating up an astonishing amount of librarians' time. Of course, your local librarians might feel differently.

You might check out this book -- while it is designed to support more traditional info lit efforts, the exercises could be retooled to fit other venues. In the interest of full disclosure, I know the authors and have a couple of exercises in the new edition.

It might help to know exactly what you want to teach -- are you working with a subject-specific class? General Education? Freshmen? Seniors? Do you have 20 minutes? An hour? Several hours spread across the semester? I would approach each of these a little differently.

In my experience, sessions tied clearly to immediate outcomes for the students work best -- the material should relate to a current project, a quiz, or some other kind of assessment. That helps make it "real" for the students.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:22 PM on November 23, 2009

My reasons for the scavenger hunt are that I want them to come into the library, I want them to be somewhat familiar with the layout of the library, I want them to see that it's a good place to study and work on papers or just chill and read a magazine, and I want them to know that the staff is helpful and approachable. Since I'm the only reference librarian here it's often me that they're approaching for help.

You would be amazed at the number of students who never go to the library. I was at a big research university before coming to this place and I met students who were seniors who had never been in the library!
posted by mareli at 6:44 AM on November 24, 2009

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