Instruction SectionTeaching Methods CommitteeBrainstorming Sessions: 1994 - 1999

Is banner link to home page

Continues: Brainstorming Sessions 2000-present

June 26, 1999 - New Orleans, LA    

"Applied Learning Styles: How to Reach Everyone!"

Ross began session by introducing the topic and proceeded to describe the three categories for the breakout sessions:

  1. Traditional Library Instruction (one-shot, course-related)
  2. Semester-Long Instruction
  3. Web Instruction

Brief definition of learning styles was given: A way to think and learning and approaches to learning.

Four modalities of learning:

  1. Auditory - listening and speaking. Instructional strategy: control class noise.
  2. Visual - writing and visual, an orderly environment. Instructional strategy: teach by chart or diagram or written words.
  3. Kinesthetic - by doing, hands-on. Instructional strategy: guided design activities
  4. Social interaction:
    Independent learners/ Dependent learners
    Competitive/ Participatory/ alone
    75% of students have a mix of these qualities, 25% of students are dominant in one of these aspects. Most incoming (traditional) learners are kinesthetic or are combinations.

-------- Break out sessions of three groups. - 30 min. ---------------------
Each group presented their discussions for the whole group.

A. One Shots

  1. In computer classroom
    Powerpoint – so students can read off the screen
    Also go over it and talk about it – to hear
    Hands-on practice for kinesthetic
  2. Overhead projection of demo with verbal explanation, then assignment after (for hands-on): visual, auditory, kinesthetic, individual
  3. Bring in reference books to have students look at in small groups, them report back to the full group (better in longer sessions with not too many students): group activity, kinesthetic, auditory
  4. Handouts – visual
  5. Determine what you are trying to cover. Work on assignment in class in small groups.
  6. Brainstorming with students gets active participation also.

B. Semester courses

  1. Students develop a relationship with librarian and other students. They are also more motivated to learn information literacy, since they chose the course. Those who teach semester courses are constantly updating the course.
  2. Group work: don't grade the class group exercises (except a general "class participation" grade), so they don't mind working with others.
  3. Individual work – Students use their own topics to research for the graded assignments.
  4. Offer a variety of teaching modes to accommodate different learning styles.
  5. Offer different assignment choices, such as
    Oral presentation vs. paper
    Paper vs. final exam
    Extra credit assignments

More ideas:

  1. In one-shot class: Give a hypothetical research paper topic, have them research in pairs at the beginning, and ask them to get 3 records. This way they see what they know and what they don't know.
  2. Use analogies:
    Netscape is the television
    Web sites are free channels
    Databases are cable television (we pay for them)
  3. Computer classrooms:
    Control systems help with keeping class on task.
    U-shaped computer configuration around 3 walls; worktable in middle. Start at tables before doing hands-on.
  4. "Stump the Librarian": Students provide a topic, and librarian must find something, talking aloud while showing her thought process. Even problems are a teaching opportunity – how to try a new tactic, etc.

-- Nancy Dewald and Shellie Jeffries
C. Web instruction
General comments

  1. Technological constraints will affect what teaching methods can be used and what learning styles can be addressed.
  2. It may be difficult to know who the remote users are and to design tutorials that address their needs.
  3. There should be assessment of the effectiveness of tutorials in terms of how well they address learning styles.

Strengths of web tutorials

  1. Graphics and text may appeal to visual learners.
  2. Interactive exercises (possibly in live databases) may appeal to kinesthetic learners.
  3. Web tutorials may appeal to independent learners who can use them without assistance and can pace themselves.
  4. Once created the tutorials are relatively easy to maintain and update.
  5. The technology will be engaging to some users.

Weaknesses of web tutorials

  1. There may be no human interaction.
  2. Auditory learners may not have the benefit of discussion with an instructor and/or classmates.
  3. The keyboard may be the only method input and may not suit auditory learners well.
  4. Dependent learners may not have the benefit of the motivation that a classroom setting might provide.
  5. It may be difficult to promote collaborative learning.

Tutorial design considerations

  1. Make good use of graphics.
  2. Make the tutorial interactive.
  3. Provide the opportunity for human contact.
  4. Encourage the use of web tutorials in course-related settings to provide opportunities for collaboration and discussion.

-- Ross A. Christensen

--------------- General discussion after break-out reports --------------------------

Thoughts conveyed about BI sessions

  1. Need to spend time and effort without knowing if it (BI) is getting through to students. Trying different aspects may enable more to assimilate knowledge.
  2. Advantage of semester will give ability to try more and different things for students to learn and understand.
  3. Effectiveness of BI is dependent on the students' attitude or the presenter's style. If students don't want to learn they won't.
  4. Need to have a dynamic environment in class. One way is to have students play stump the librarian.
  5. Bribery will work to get students to interact (prizes, candy).
  6. Have students go find things first and then show faster, better ways of finding the same info. during the session.
  7. Compare resources by demonstrating print World Almanac vs. WWW

Thoughts about assessment and does it work.

  1. There are still elements of teaching BI that can't be measured to determine accuracy of instruction.
  2. Conduct a study: Pay students to compare live BI session vs. Web tutorial. This may determine what works and how effective it is.
  3. Think about students' needs.
    Information gathering: collect data, locate sources, obtain sources.
    Information processing: develop ideas, evaluate, citation construction, communication of ideas.
    Session ended at 3:30pm
    -- Submitted by John A. Olson

January 30, 1999 - Philadelphia, PA    

" Multiple Library Instruction Sessions"

28+ people attended the session.

Census of what types of instruction are used from people in attendance.
Course integrated/one-shot - 21
Semester - 4
walk-in - 2
web/electronic - 9
multi-session (not semester) - 3

Session content.
What areas concern you the most about BI and what are you interested in discussing?

1. It's difficult to do things across the board. - Large Univ. to small colleges.
2. Have classes tied to an assignment.
3. Is BI given to Grad students elsewhere? Who else is doing it?
4. A Freshman course given with credit given to the Library assignment.
5. How do you spread a BI session out past 50 minutes?
6. Web-based instruction.
7. How do you get a credit course started?
8. How best to integrate web and one-shot together. Personal teaching and appropriateness.
9. Drop-in sessions. Tell the how, what, where, why.

The attendees were then divided into several small groups to discuss five of these topics for 10 minutes. Following are summaries of the small group reports.

1. Web-based course integrated instruction.

If you build it they won't come.
Faculty cooperation
General tutorials: are we reinventing ourselves?
Is time in customizing of web sessions worth the time?

2. Grad vs. Undergrad.

Time-territorial instructors: Won't give you any of their precious class time.
Faculty may be willing.
How to bring part-time, distance ed. students to it.
Must get in for multiple sessions.
Handouts of resources.
How to evaluate web resources.

3. Strengthening one-shot BI sessions

Tell faculty of values of multi-sessions.
Arrange with faculty ahead of time for use of more than one session.
Hooks are needed. How to show them they don't know all the ideas out there.

4. Web based courses.

Any type - maintain some type of contact.
Use of body language will be able to go in new direction.
Are we losing interaction with technology?
How to have good use of web.
What type of students are better at Web and personal instruction?
Should we automate instruction?

5. Drop-in workshops.

Difficult to get students to go to drop in workshops.
Make it look like Information 101, as if it's a "real" course.
Provide regularly scheduled sessions.
Advertise the workshops in one-shot classes.
Teach the teaching assistants, then they'll let you do BI in their classes.

June 27, 1998 - Washington, D.C.    

"Web-Based Library Tutorials"

Approximately 32 participants joined in the discussion on how to develop an interactive Web tutorial, making this year's Brainstorming Session a success. Few participants in the group had developed any sort of Web tutorial, so interest was high. It was good to hear from people outside of the committee and an impressive amount of expertise walked in from off the street. Several prominent instruction software names came up during the session, and there was much discussion about various techniques for designing web based instruction.

Software packages mentioned included:

A former librarian at James Madison University told the group about a tutorial called "Go for the Gold!" 
This particular tutorial allows students to conduct live searches in the library's catalog. During the discussion, one librarian brought up the fact that she favored a tutorial that allowed a student choosing a wrong answer an explanation of why the answer was wrong. Some related issues under
discussion were lack of support from administration and not enough staff to implement Web tutorial programs.

A couple of important issues/concerns were raised at the end of the session: whether face-to-face instruction interaction was more important and that tutorials may compromise this, and how adaptable are online tutorials to specific assignments/subjects. Feedback from one of the attendees was that at their institution they have had more students using the library since the tutorial went online. Another commented that they use their tutorials in addition to face-to-face instruction to reach more students.

Distance Education/Distance Learning was identified by the IS Chair as a priority for our Committee to address. Distance Education and online tutorials go hand-in-hand. However, out of the 32 participants, only six had heard of Distance Education efforts at their own institutions. (The Committee will continue to monitor the advances in Distance Education technology, and continue to develop ways in which it might assist instruction librarians.) Distance education is not yet part of the
instruction program of most libraries. Certain geographic areas such as Alaska, Montana, and Hawaii have had more success in developing these programs because of the geographical isolation of state residents.


Barbara Cressman, Kevin Roddy, and Joy Cichewicz, recorders

January 10, 1998 - New Orleans, LA    

"Distance Education and Library Instruction: The Brave New World"

A total of 33 participants attended the session including the following members of the Teaching Methods Committee: Elizabeth Joy Cichewicz, Ross A. Christensen (recorder), Nancy Dewald, Amy K. Leimkuhler, Stephanie Race, and Kevin M. Roddy (chair).

The session was opened by Nancy Dewald who commented on a discussion of distance education she attended the previous day. Among the broad range of topics discussed were: using 800 telephone numbers to provide reference service, sending field librarians to local libraries, and the use of computer technology (e.g., e-mail, chat lines, WWW) to deliver library service and instruction. Nancy then asked the participants if any had been approached to provide library instruction in a distance education setting.

A participant from Western Michigan University responded that she is involved in distance education. In that program a librarian goes to satellite sites to provide instruction. A Web library instruction tutorial is being developed.

Kevin Roddy asked how many distance education librarians were present and 8 participants identified themselves. Kevin then asked the participants to introduce themselves. Many of the librarians present had involvement in a variety of distance education programs using a range of technologies including interactive television, cable television, videotape, and the Internet.

A participant asked what types of library resources were being taught when television and video were used to deliver instruction. Kevin responded that he taught resources, such as the online catalog and Expanded Academic Index, accessible through UHCARL (the University of Hawaii's online system). The students receiving distance library instruction had access to UHCARL. They might not have access to print resources in their local libraries so these were difficult to teach.

Kevin asked the group if there was administrative and financial support for distance education at their institutions. He commented that administrators may ask for new technology course modules, such as Web-based instruction, but may provide inadequate support. A participant responded that support is sometimes available but has to be sought out. Another answered that distance education is a developing area and accrediting bodies examine the level of support provided for programs.

The discussion then turned to gaining the support of faculty by collaborating on the use of technology, especially the WWW, to deliver instruction. Librarians can offer the benefit of their experience with technology to faculty members that are developing new resources. Faculty members can also link to library Web pages to support distance learning programs. Librarians also participate in team teaching in virtual classrooms. It was the consensus that technology provided an opportunity for librarians to make linkages with faculty. The comment was made that in distance education programs, librarians might find themselves working with part-time and adjunct faculty that would benefit from library support.

A participant asked how many efforts to develop library instruction had involved multiple institutions in order to share what is learned and produced. He commented that institutions might be duplicating effort. Another participant responded that cooperation between institutions is a good idea but that there are great obstacles, e.g., different institutions offer different services and programs. Licensing agreements could also be an issue. The comment was made that in Florida library resources were provided statewide through consortia.

The question was raised about how to evaluate Web resources. Kevin responded by referring to materials available on the Web from Argus Clearinghouse, It was commented that evaluation should be a component in grant applications for library instruction projects.

It was finally commented that Central Michigan University is sponsoring a distance education and off-campus library services conference to be held in Rhode Island.

During the brainstorming session, some of the participants listed the following universities' library websites for content relating to distance education and library instruction:

Texas A&M University

Loyola University, Chicago

Northwestern University

Oregon State University

University of Minnesota

Brainstorming Session ended at 3:00PM and was followed by a one-hour business meeting.


Ross Christensen, recorder

June 28, 1997 - San Francisco, CA    

"Active Learning Techniques for the One-Shot Library Instruction Session"

The session was opened by a librarian from Leavy Library who said they encourage active learning by encouraging students to work in groups; Leavy offers drop-in classes as well as those requested by faculty.

A librarian from Casper College stated that their students are not receptive to active learning; although the librarians try to involve the students, they don't like to be "hassled," fearing embarrassment. CC has no hands-on facilities.

Patricia Ianuzzi of Florida International University noted that active learning does not have to be in a wired classroom; structured activities is the key. From beginning to end, you must expect the students to participate. At Florida International University, worksheets are given to the students.

A participant from Indiana University - South Bend said they use their hands-on computers to do group work, usually in groups of three. Each group looks at a particular subject area or type of information.

Kay St. Claire of Howard Paine University said she uses groups of three and "steps them through" the process. Each student takes on a different role, such as recording the work. She takes them through different databases. She knows this is successful because librarians can see the students following up at the reference desk.

A librarian from Pablo Rosas Schools has teams of students trade questions and look up the answers to each other's questions.

Julie Todaro of Austin Community College picks what she considers to be "the single most controversial news item" from the previous three days as an example; this surprises the students and gets them interested.

Linda St. Clair of the University of Utah sees ten sections of thirty freshmen each quarter for three quarters. The key to her success in dealing with these groups is working closely with the faculty.

Amy Leimkuhler of the University of Missouri-Kansas City requests faculty members to send copies of their syllabi and paper topics to her previous to an instruction section.

At the University of Chicago, faculty are requested to attend the sessions; students participate more willingly when faculty are present.

Patty Ianuzzi provides a worksheet for students to use, which includes places for the topic, Boolean logic, selected terms, etc. Students must choose an appropriate database. As a result, they leave with a search strategy and a list of databases. This worksheet is not currently available, because it is being published in Patty's new book, Teaching Study Skills and Strategies in College, available from Allyn and Bacon in late fall 1997.

Julie Todaro noted that many faculty syllabi are poorly done, so she also asks for the textbooks used in classes and relates her class content to the textbooks.

In answer to the question of how to increase the number of sessions beyond just the one-shot, a suggestion was made to send faculty detailed descriptions of the skills to be covered in one session, in two, etc. There is a danger here of becoming a victim of your own success.

One participant suggested giving students numbers as they walk into the room to assign seats, which avoids many behavior problems.

Another participant uses the strategy of giving students copies of an article and asking them to find it listed in an index.

Doug Carroll of George Washington University Graduate School works with a human resources program for executives and has students bring relevant topics to class. He sets up individual appointments following the one-shot; in addition, participants can call him for individual consultation as they search.

A librarian from Portland (OR) Community College tries to limit what is covered in class but finds that something important is always left out. She is working to collaborate with instructors and have the instructor do some of the LI. This ensures useful examples relevant to that class.

Someone suggested that additional information beyond what can be covered in the class could be posted on the Web. Another participant noted that tutorial pages on the Web allow reaching remote users. However, this leaves out those people without a computer at home. Also, we need to physically get people into the library.

Gretchen McCord Hoffmann of the University of Houston suggested using a minor, quickie assignment to be given to students previous to their LI session, not as a test of skills, but with detailed step-by-step instructions, just to get them using materials before coming to the session.

Another person suggested having the instructor come in first and teaching him to assist in the class. This forces the instructor to struggle with what the student does.

In answer to the question of how to deal with faculty reluctant to participate, the suggestion was made to catch new faculty when they arrive at the institution.

Amy Leimkuhler suggested a way to get computer-phobic faculty involved is to schedule time to teach them in their office where they're comfortable and no one can embarrass them.

Linda St. Clair said it is critical for the instructor to know what is involved. Her extensive three quarter program (described above) came from a simple tour request. She advises to tap into what the instructor thinks needs to be taught.

A librarian from the University of Washington suggested that at larger institutions where many classes are taught by TA's, we can ask faculty to require the TA to attend the class or tell the faculty bluntly "If you're not there, the students won't take this seriously." When faculty liaisons are assigned, this can be a more personal route to take.

Julie Todaro suggested trying to establish Centers for Teaching and use that program to point out to deans the importance of library instruction, and to encourage faculty to attend sessions at the Centers for Teaching by referencing teaching evaluations.

Patty Ianuzzi asked how do we do active learning, especially evaluating information, in non-electric classrooms?

One participant replied that we can have students evaluate periodicals, using a worksheet and list of criteria.

Another participant has students evaluate reference materials in one session and information found on the Web in another, using the same criteria.

Kay St. Clair brings a variety of government documents to the class, has students each pick out one item, and then "sell" it to the class, including various specific criteria. The librarian then fills in gaps left by the students.

A technique used by another participant is to give students a stack of periodicals, have them sort in some way, and then report back on the criteria they've used; she then rewords their criteria in a standard format. She notes that we forget students evaluate things all the time, even if they don't consciously think about it.

Another librarian uses a scavenger hunt to try to make using print resources more interactive.

Another activity described is to provide a one-page description of different categories of reference sources, then use the scavenger hunt approach to have students select which type of resource should be used.

Another participant hands students 3x5 cards as they come in and asks them to write down one thing they want to learn and/or one question about the library. She collects them, categorizes them, and uses them to structure the class. She finds that there is great duplication; thirty-five students does not mean thirty-five questions.

Finally, someone has students tell at the end of the session what the most important thing they've learned that day is and what is one thing they still don't understand.

The discussion was dismissed at 2:50.

Submitted by Gretchen McCord Hoffmann, Teaching Methods Committee Intern

February 15, 1997 - Washington, D.C.    

"Collaborating with Faculty"

The discussion was opened by a participant from Linfield College who described her library's program of collaborating with faculty in team-teaching courses. She described the evolution of this program, which began with a professor teaching a research writing course to older students who was frustrated with his students' lack of library skills and contacted the librarian for help. They worked together to integrate library instruction (L.I.) into his course. This led to a request for the same from a mass communications faculty member, and eventually to the more expansive team teaching. She pointed out that she has the same "regular" duties as always. Her concern is with the lack of acknowledgment and credit given to librarians involved with such programs and the lack of understanding of the need to reduce the workload in other areas.

It is more practical to talk about team-teaching in a one-shot setting, such as working with faculty to have class for one or two meetings and working collaboratively on creating assignments.

The problem with one-shots is that you're teaching the same thing over and over--how do you build on this?

University of Hawaii is looking at integrating class visits by librarians up to seven times a semester.

Manskill University has decided that the "General Education" curriculum is tired and does not use it. An alternative to a required course is an information literacy requirement which can be met by passing an exam or by attending a series of one-shots; this could include not only library research, but also word processing, e-mail, etc. (Manskill is not currently doing this.)

At the University of Oregon, four credit classes are offered, one each quarter, in general information literacy, cyberspace, government information, and legal resources. Each has its own departmental following.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute team teaches a one credit hour chemistry course with chemistry faculty; as a result, they see many fewer lower level chemistry questions at the reference desk. RPI wants to try the same thing with management because they get so many management questions at the reference desk, but that faculty "has a different attitude towards the library." This program is also being threatened by RPI's switching to a "4x4" curriculum.

Getting library instruction recognized on campuses is a matter of politics. Faculty are often unaware of librarians' status.

Everything happens through relationships (and governance), not through forcing your agenda. Need to look at liaison relationships, ways of gaining faculty respect, and faculty development courses.

One campus offers the faculty "learning to teach" workshops; the library was able to get involved in this and talk to faculty for three weeks about library instruction. They also have a librarian on the committee planning a "freshman experience" class.

Southwestern Louisiana State University offers a credit library skills class taken by about 50% of the students. The library has approached the director of the MBA program about team teaching a class, giving the library about three sessions. They are also sending librarians to faculty meetings and faculty orientations. "Overwhelming" the faculty can be effective.

Oberlin has a faculty library committee. The library held a workshop for faculty over the January term, offering nine sessions (government information, database structure, Internet searching, electronic indexes, etc). Approximately 25% of the faculty attended. They don't yet know the outcome for course integrated LI, but the requests for LI have increased dramatically. Finally, Oberlin has drafted an information literacy statement with goals, available at

We are victims of our own success!

When trying to sell faculty on LI, they often ask what other institutions are doing. Some faculty are responsive to the suggestion that their preparation workload will be reduced if they give up class periods for LI.

A UWired participant noted that faculty follow funding. Centers for Teaching and Learning, Teaching Effectiveness, etc. also provide good avenues for reaching faculty.

Keeping politics in mind, we need to work through the structure of our institutions and put our interests in terms of the big picture, ie, where does information literacy fit into the institution as a whole, to get support for credit courses.

Many who do team teaching do include questions about the librarian in their course evaluations.

It is imperative to get your director on board. Also, universities are always looking for ways to increase the number of credit hours, which increases their funding. Show the university that the library can contribute to this by creating credit courses. Release time is very important when working on a semester long course.

Visiting a class can be less threatening than having a class come to the library; at least begin this way for one session. This is especially true for remedial classes. One library worked with part-time faculty of remedial classes using this method. The faculty member got great feedback from his students and spread the word to other faculty. Focusing LI on a specific assignment is also helpful.

We can also learn from unsuccessful stories: Many years of feeling frustrated with one-shots because there was too much information to cover led one institution to coordinate team teaching for the school of journalism.

One library uses faculty "meeting days" before each semester to offer workshops, etc.

Faculty can feel threatened because they don't understand us, our positions, and what we do. Let them know that we're here to help.

Creating teams which include non-librarians, such as information technology people, can be an interesting model, such as that used by UWired.

What do we do about being victims of our own success??!!

The University of Oregon has a program called "Get Ready," a university technology course for freshmen. This, as well as teaching Internet classes, raises librarians' status with faculty.

Another library teaches two class periods of three hours each and has the students do assignments in the class; this is a primary research class for graduate students, and the librarian is trying to figure out how to tailor it for undergraduates.

Alverno uses "proficiency levels" rather than grading and is working on a library proficiency level for information literacy. Four levels of assessment are used (ex: Level 1: is able to state information needs; Level 2: is able to identify appropriate sources; Level 3: is able to use those sources; etc.)

Seton Hall has a Center for College Teaching which refers faculty to the library when they have questions about teaching information technology and suggests a team teaching approach with librarians.

One library wanted to offer a credit course in their electronic classroom but was unable to get a course number (ie, department assignment).

Keep an eye on new courses developing at your institution and try to get a library component included.

With faculty status, one library was able to get a librarian on the undergraduate curriculum committee, which helps with collection development as well as LI. They convinced the university that it was important to include librarians so that they could purchase the necessary materials to support new courses.

To the question of whether or not anyone involved in extensive LI gets a reduction in desk duties: librarian at University of Oregon gets a graduate assistant for ten hours weekly when teaching; one library uses part-time librarians to allow teaching librarians a break; note that with successful LI, you get different levels of questions at the desk.

What do you do about subject specialists--is their time better spent in the classroom or at the desk?

UWired received a distinguished faculty award for their project, the message being: PR helps!

Co-chair Kevin Roddy wound down the discussion with the summary statement that it "all boils down to politics." He noted that he hoped this session would inspire some attendees to try new things and reminded everyone that these discussions are held at every annual conference and every midwinter.

Submitted by Gretchen McCord Hoffmann, Intern

January 21, 1996 - San Antonio, TX    

"Managing the Electronic Classroom"

Visitors in attendance: 61 visitors

Question: What works best, hands on with instructor or demonstration and them hands on?

Answers: Demonstration - practice, demonstration - practice. Instructor should wander and coach during practice portion.

Q: How do you keep people from playing?

  • A: Turn off monitors
  • A: Use one of the software products available that keeps students in same place as instructor. Links was one product that was mentioned. Cost may be prohibitive for some (approx. $10,000)

Q: How to avoid ??? so single instructor can see computers?

  • A: Computers in an inverted V with instructor in the middle.

Q: What are people trying to accomplish by using labs?

  • A: Overcoming fears.
  • A: Giving students a place to experience the available software.
  • A: Have the ability to discuss the evaluative experience - good/bad results.
  • A: Allow students to reach a comfort level with software.
  • A: Avoid actually doing homework by having a different assignment.
  • A: debrief with a discussion of student discoveries.
  • A: Discuss selection of appropriate product.

Q: What computer configurations are being used?

  • A: one front-end
  • A: variety of options
  • A: remote access

Q: How many people share the lab with another group? How does it work?

  • A: Sharing with a writing lab which requires a library component.

Q: How many terminals work best?

  • A: 1 instructor for each 6 terminals
  • A: no more than 36 terminals

Q: What access problems are people having and how do you solve these problems?

  • A: Have students share terminals
  • A: Let students choose between different databases
  • A: give students case studies which require them to choose the appropriate database

Q: What do people do about licensing software?

  • A: Some vendors offer training passwords
  • A: Some libraries have made agreements with the companies to override metering of products during training sessions
  • A: purchase site licenses

Q: What are you doing about day-to-day maintenance?

  • A: Hired an assistant (clerical)

Q: Anyone have any Computer Aided Instruction loaded?

  • A: UT-Austin has a web mounted tutorial
  • A: Purdue has a self-paced web based instruction program, teaches THOR (their OPAC), keywords
  • A: Some libraries have web pages with monthly updates covering specific learning issues; these suggest strategies rather than answering specific questions

Q: How are electronic classrooms used during down times?

  • A: Open use when not scheduled, student help to monitor
  • A: Open evenings and weekends
  • A: Closed for lack of staffing

Q: Anyone have a multi-use room?

  • A: PCs are on the perimeter and tables are in the center

Q: Anyone teaching mouse and/or keyboarding skills?

  • A: Refer people to computing department (Academic Computing)

Meeting adjourned at 12:30pm.

Annual Meeting 1995 - Chicago, IL    

"What Makes an Effective Assignment?" and "How We Can Work with Faculty as Effective Teachers."

List of Attendees for the Discussion

Cindy Pierard from the Univ. of Kansas wanted to know if others had designed handbooks for instruction? She passed around a copy of what she had with her. She uses Teaching Students about Library Research, a Handbook for Instructors. She was interested in assignment design guidelines and what kind of value was attached to assignments? In the handbook are samples of assignments that build on research skills. She found some students needed basic library skills and exercises dealing with critical thinking. Questions about the handbook followed such as, What's going to happen with the handbook? Was the handbook made for faculty? The design of the handbook got the whole faculty involved at the university.

Elizabeth hanson described Indiana University's "Teaching Center" and asked if others had similar centers at their institutions.

Bill Orme said he had reinvigorated their liaison teams. He wanted to talk with istructors and get them involved with course-integrated instruction.

Susan Dees-Roberts described her offering of introductions to their catalog. Students are required to come. Faculty will not get specialized individual instruction for their classes without the basics first! They get plenty of classes by just saying the librarians will sit down and talk about instruction with faculty.

Kevin Roddy introduces new faculty to library in August with a "New Faculty" get together.

Bill suggested to continue to use "Technology as a change agent" to get as many faculty as possible.

Loanne suggested we give the faculty a leading question such as "Might you try an assignment for this?" Let them say yes, and then say one really good way to get there is...

A unique method of getting users to orientations was introduced by Susan D-R: provide everyone in attendance with a copy card!

Others presented ways to get students' attention:

  • design a library tutor program
  • embellish the professor's assignment with ones of your own
  • use exciting examples - Challenger's transcript
  • provide an instructional newsletter

Other ideas about broad research instruction ideas included:

  • providing free photocopy to students
  • award a best library assignment of the year award
  • get faculty to verify and testify for assignments
  • highlight teams / partners
  • teach faculty and staff, before adding new electronic resources
  • in public services meetings, invite the faculty to attend

A quote from the meeting: "The goals of the assignment are the goals of teaching, are the goals of the university."

Michael R. Blake

February 5, 1995 - Philadelphia, PA    

"Teaching the Evaluation of Sources"

The committee's meeting was devoted to a discussion with committee members and visitors on the topic of "Teaching the Evaluation of Sources" to undergraduates.

Loanne Snavely opened the discussion with a brief explanation of the committee's charge to "provide a forum for librarians interested in both the theoretical and practical aspects of teaching methods..." and the topic of today's conversation. She invited everyone to feel free in joining the conversation and to share their ideas with the other participants. A lively conversation followed. Below are recorded the main points of discussion.

To begin the discussion, Loanne asked the participants to share with the group their own ways of teaching students to evaluate sources back at their home institution.

Elizabeth Hanson of Indiana U. described a credit course for undergraduates containing an evaluation of sources section. She presents copies of articles from the scholarly, the trade, and the public/popular press to her students and gives them 20 minutes to review. Students are asked to characterize and then discuss the article's relevance to a topical need. The students are asked if they are left with any questions. The most recent subject used for the exercise was violence and TV. Mary Bopp designed this.

Paula Dempsey from DePaul U. asked the question, "How do you teach students to evaluate sources that are accessed through a computer or on the screen?" Suggestions included: making a link from the online source to the printed counterpart; have students always question the source itself; and let the students know as soon as possible the expectations of the process of evaluation.

Sarah Penhale from Earlham College suggested that one of the easiest ways to get the student to learn how to evaluate sources was to have professors assign a given type of source such as a scholarly journal article, and then describe to the students what her/his expectations of a scholarly journal article was.

Allison Ricker from Oberlin suggested that we as librarians should get a list of scholarly journal titles from professors whose class we teach. She also proposed other clues -- What audience is the article addressed to? Who is citing the article found? and What is the author's affiliation?

Bill Orme of IUPUI described using the nine steps of critical thinking to help evaluate sources in a class he teaches. Using an American Journal of Psychology article and a news condensation of the same material later published in Science News, he shows differences between articles.

In some institutions, the requirements for graduating include a one-hour credit course. This concept ws welcomed by those in attendance. At the opposite end of the spectrum was the difficulty of getting even a one-time fifty minute one shot.

One attendee asked the group, How do others separate the minute differences between a good scholarly source and a great scholarly source? What followed included a discussion on bias, the differences between objectivity and neutrality. When do you teach the evaluation skills? Bill Orme gave an example of a three hour compilation of a paper from start to finish using full-text online sources and his word processor's cut-and-paste feature. He said that this may be the future extent of work required of students, and how can we best teach the students to evaluate sources, when they can so easily compile the required papers online?

Other techniques used in classes included:

  • Have students discuss the discourse in a given article. Then have the students determine the quality of the article. Do they come up with questions about the article they can't answer?
  • Use out-of-class exercises that teach students about bias.
  • Asking the students How would your professor react to a paper that only contained materials gathered from encyclopedias?
  • Handing out to the students a really bad bibliography and have the first-years critique it.
  • Hand out the first five citations from 4 different databases and ask the students to give justifications for inclusion in a bibliography of only 5-10 citations.
  • Ask students when they compile bibliographies from both print and online, Why did you pick these sources?
  • Give students an assignment of two papers; one paper with a pro view point, the other with an opposing view.

The discussion at this point began to focus on all aspects of teaching instructional courses. Topics included:

  • Tracing the publication chain of information from a newspaper article back to an original source.
  • The importance of articles containing an abstract.
  • The insistence on having the professor require the class to attend instructional classes, and to require an assignment from the students.

The question was then raised -- Beyond the classroom, how are we teaching the evaluation of sources? In one institution, the students get information off of an OPAC screen. In another institution a suggestion/comment facility is added to the OPAC for user's clarification. It was mentioned that face-to-face teaching may be going by the wayside, to be filled with video teaching. Some thought that video could be helpful and distance learning is necessary in some areas of the country but should be used as a last resort. One final question was raised -- What is the responsibility of the librarian to teaching for the remote user?

June 25, 1994 - Miami Beach, FL    

"Ways of Improving One-Shot BI"

[Note: Formerly, the Instruction Section was named the Bibliographic Instruction Section, or BIS]

A small but lively group of participants joined the BIS Teaching Methods Committee on Saturday, June 25 to discuss ways for improving one-shot bi stands. The conversation was steady and far-ranging. Some of the ideas regarding effective one-shots included:

  • Give the class a brief exercise to complete prior to the bi session. Some basic searches in the OPAC was one example. That way the class will have some common experience and the activity can serve to stimulate questions. One librarian advised that the exercise must be mandatory and also suggested the students work in pairs.
  • Have the instructor assign a self-guided tour of the library and supplement the tour with a short worksheet. One librarian uses 10 multiple choice questions. The worksheet is graded (preferably by the instructor) and the results can be eye-opening to the instructor and provide the librarian with useful information when planning the bi session.
  • One twist to either of these two ideas is to have the questions tied to the student. Have them search their own names as authors in the OPAC. If an exact match is not made, what is the name closest. Ask questions based on their hometowns. Depending upon the exercise it can be a simple way to diversify an activity and encourage independent answers.
  • If you have the capability to provide hands-on instruction in a lab setting, investigate software that can control all the keyboards or at the least be clear about specific time for searching. Everyone's heads nodded in agreement when someone recommended having an additional person serve as a rover. Once again, the idea of having people work in pairs was very popular.
  • Another librarian offered the following suggestions for any hands-on or small group activity. Encourage play or "discovery learning." Be clear about setting the basic parameters and communicating your expectations. Give a timeline for the activity and break it into segments if it is complex. Have some form of reporting back to the entire group.
  • Give different groups different learning tasks and then have them debate. For example, et up a debate on keyword vs. subject searching.
  • Instead of designing instruction based on a "one-shot" conceptualize the training as small modules. The conversation easily filled the two hour meeting time and took off from these ideas into a broader discussion of a multitude of issues surrounding the use and impact of technology in library instruction. Setting aside the meeting for this informal chat was a wonderful way to hear from colleagues around the country.

Return to: Brainstorming Sessions 2000-present


Instruction Section Home Page

Send us your comments and questions