Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 290 2017
Instruction is redundant: during their Cornell years, students
experience “effectively the same presentation” multiple times
Quality of instruction varies (it is often not engaging
enough; instructors just “throw tools at you”)
Conceptually, library instruction is often too centered
on fairly intuitive search engines; or it is too general
Asked about possible explanations of why at the end of library
instruction sessions 98% of the students rated them helpful, while
on the end-of-year ESS survey 38.5% of those who participated
in library instruction found it not very helpful, the students
offered various explanations: students forget what they learned,
at the end of the session they feel bad if they don’t rate positively,
on the COFHE survey they were rating library instruction in
relation to their overall academic experience, etc. Ultimately,
the agreement coalesced around the perception that library
instruction is too tool-based and is not teaching critical thinking.
The suggestions for improving it included:
Replace instruction sessions with one-on-one sessions
Turn instruction into a Q&A session
Divide classes into smaller groups so that individual questions
can be addressed
All of the suggestions clearly connected to the flipped classroom
model where the content (or part of it) is delivered online and
face-to-face interaction is reserved for customized help.
Pilot Project
In order to address some of the points made by the members
of the Student Library Advisory Council, especially those
about redundancy and “experiencing effectively the same
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