December 2011 Site of the Month

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December 2011 Site of the Month

Information Literacy Tutorial


Kristin M. Woodward, Instructional Design Librarian

Kate L. Ganski, Instruction Coordinator

Research & Instructional Support, Golda Meir Library at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Interviewees: Kristin M. Woodward and Kate L. Ganski

Institution: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Interviewer: Benjamin Oberdick

Tutorial Description: The UWM Libraries' Information Literacy Tutorial gives both an overview of research strategies and access to information at UWM. The tutorial design offers a flexible format, allowing the Libraries to address general information literacy concepts and tailor examples to the needs of UWM students. Each module of the tutorial has a set of three videos that demonstrate search strategy and evaluation, a graphic explanation of the skill that goes with the type of search, glossary terms, and a website or article on the theory behind that concept. The tutorial as a whole was designed primarily to meet the needs of English 102 College Writing and Research students, but the modular design and higher order content was built into the tutorial so that it could be a learning utility for all undergraduates and graduate students.


Q: What prompted the creation of the Information Literacy Tutorial?

A: We had been using the SearchPath tutorial for five years and were finding it increasingly cumbersome to update. We also wanted to make use of 2.0 technologies that seemed to communicate better with our students.


Q: What are the goals of this tutorial in regard to both your students and institution?

A: We wanted a tutorial that could be used for all students in meeting our institutional goals for information literacy as well as a tutorial that would meet our instructional needs of flexibility and re-use.


Q: Who was involved in the production of the tutorial and what skills and talents did they contribute?

A: Our Library Instruction Coordinator and Instructional Design Librarian were the principal authors. Instructional librarians, interns, and the Learning Commons Librarian contributed content ideas.


Q: What software and hardware was involved in creating this tutorial?

A: LibGuides, Camtasia, PowerPoint, Computer, and YouTube.


Q: Did you need to seek any outside expertise?

A: No.


Q: I’m interested in the organization of your tutorial. Could you talk about the process by which you came up with this organizational structure for the topics and sections of the tutorial?

A: The six modules’ topics were based upon the modules of the SearchPath tutorial that we were replacing with the new tutorial. In our drafts we considered various options for the module topics, but came back to these six as the essential for our information literacy goals. Within each module you will find four “layers” of content: skill, exploration, theory, and glossary. We wanted the tutorial to be adaptable so that it met the needs of our principal user group, but could also be integrated into other courses. This desire for adaptability led to our layered approach.


Q: How is this tutorial primarily being used at your institution?

A: It is currently being integrated in online and hybrid sections of English 102 and English 205 as well as a select number of Health Sciences courses-- interestingly, these are a combination of face-to-face and online courses. It is also broadly available to all instructors and students via our website.


Q: Is this tutorial in addition to, or in lieu of, traditional library instruction?

A: Both. It can be the library instruction for online classes, for example English 102, but it is also used to supplement traditional library instruction. For example, after attending a traditional library instruction session, students may be assigned Module 6: Citing Sources, as we don’t usually have time in a one-shot session to cover that material, but we know that many students struggle with that requirement. Individual learning objects that were designed for the tutorial are used to enrich and supplement other courses as well.


Q: How is this tutorial being promoted at your institution?

A: We have promoted it broadly through campus information outlets such as our monthly newspaper UWM Report (March 2011). We have also promoted it to specific user groups such as the Online and Blended Teaching Users Group and Online Programming Council.


Q: How have students and faculty responded to the tutorial?

A: As part of our assessment of the tutorial we evaluated student discussion posts and held a focus group with the instructors who used it in their classes. Overall students found the tutorial helpful and indicated that it gave them good ideas for how to search. The instructors embraced the new tutorial expressing that it fully met their needs.


Q: Have you done any assessment of the effectiveness of the tutorial? If so, what have you found?

A: Yes, as previously mentioned, we assessed the effectiveness of the tutorial during the beta semester. To assess the new Information Literacy Tutorial, data was gathered through three modes: the Feedback Survey in the Tutorial, student discussion posts from English 102 D2L courses, and an instructor focus group. The Feedback Survey in the Tutorial was not promoted to students or faculty; nevertheless, we did receive a handful of unsolicited responses. Discussion posts were solicited from the online and blended English 102 instructors. We collected and coded the posts to analyze the findings. We held a focus group with English 102 online instructors during one of their regularly scheduled meetings.

In reviewing student discussion posts, our guiding question was “Do English 102 students articulate learning and value in their discussion of the tutorial modules?“ The comments from all five of the participating sections were reviewed and then coded to indicate evidence of learning and track user experience comments. The tutorial was evaluated on the criteria listed in the Figure below. Student comments were independently coded and then compared for consistency.


Criteria Code Frequency
Real Learning Knowledge RLK 42
Helpful H 39
Connections to Assignments C 29
Real Learning Task RLT 28
Aha Moment A 17
Missed the Learning Goal X 16
User Experience UEX 7
Ease of Use EU 3
Technical Problems TP 2
Total Number of Comments=63 from 5 online sections

As you can see, most comments spoke to the value of the tutorial.

Q: What sort of usability testing and accessibility analysis did you conduct on the tutorial, if any?

A: We have plans to do periodic usability testing on the tutorial. We have incorporated closed captioning on all videos. One of the benefits of using the LibGuide platform for the tutorial is its accessibility on multiple devices.


Q: From planning to launch, how long did it take to complete this project? Was it more or less time than you originally had planned?

A: We had an ambitious goal of drafting, creating, and publishing the tutorial over a summer. We were able to accomplish this by streamlining our drafting process. We then launched the tutorial as a beta product for one semester. Then after initial review of our assessment documents we took it out of beta for the next semester. So the process from start to launch was approximately 8 months.


Q: Are there existing tutorials on the Web that inspired you? If so, which ones?

A: We did look at newer tutorials for color and layout inspiration. We liked the color theme from WSU’s Empower tutorial.


Q: From your own experience, what tips you would give to others contemplating building their own online tutorial?

A: Emphasize information literacy concepts and pedagogy over graphic presentation. Look for ways to incorporate existing content. Use rich media, but plan for obsolescence and replacement as subscriptions and interfaces change.


Q: Were any particular parts or aspects of creating the tutorial easier than you expected, or harder, and why? What was the biggest challenge you encountered while creating this tutorial?

A: The biggest challenge was making sure that the content spoke to typical student questions. When we were thinking of what content to include, we continually asked ourselves, “Is this the most useful information? Will this meet their research need?” There is so much information we could share, but not all of it is relevant to our students. Weeding out the nice but not necessary was a constant challenge. We also wanted to make sure that our presentation of the information would be clearly identified as useful from a student’s perspective. An example might better explain this. The Finding Articles Module includes a video on how to locate and use our databases. We titled the video: Where do I find articles? Not, Article Databases. So we strove to present the content in language commonly used by students.


December 2011 PRIMO Site of the Month