Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 290 2017
teaching of freshmen writing seminars—may very well have to be
contracted. If the writing class has no genuine research assignment,
and since 98% of the students who had library instruction in
connection to a research assignment found it helpful, then we should
not be spending precious energy and resources on general sessions
for classes with no research component. Another way to look at it
is that it is imperative for library instructors to work with faculty to
have library instruction be an intrinsic part of their syllabi, rather than
an add-on, or a filler. This may very well mean that we teach upper-
level classes more often than we teach freshmen writing seminars, or
that we flip the freshmen writing seminar classes into essentially an
upper research-level class by working with the instructor to create a
research assignment. Undoubtedly, our numbers will go down, both
in terms of number of sessions and participants reached, but if that
translates into better-quality library instruction that students perceive
as helpful and valuable, our efforts would have been well spent.
Second, we are focusing on teaching critical thinking skills, not on tool
demonstration and explanation. This is where the ACRL Framework
for Information Literacy comes in—we are not teaching students
how to complete a particular assignment, but educating them about
research. As important as citation guides, for instance, might be,
there is hardly a student (or a faculty member, for that matter), who
upon reading a citation guide, would exclaim, “This totally changed
the way I am thinking about my research topic.” With the profound
changes that affect higher education, research, and teaching in the
digital environment, how-to information is easier to capture and
process digitally than the elusive “aha” moment. The valuable face-
to-face interactions should be reserved for the “aha” moments.
In practice, this means that everything that is procedural or
how-to information should be transitioned to online videos/
tutorials and classroom time should be reserved for unique help.
Classroom time could take the form of one-on-one consultations
on specific research projects or answering questions in a small
group. This could also mean that librarians meet only with
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