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The following tips and resources are provided to enhance the collaboration between UNCW instructors teaching English Composition courses and Instructional Services Librarians at Randall Library. Any questions or suggestions can be sent to Lisa Coats, Humanities Librarian (coatsl [at] uncw.edu)

Scheduling an Information Literacy Instruction Session

Librarians can provide information literacy instruction to help you and your students achieve the information literacy goals of the English Composition program.

When scheduling an information literacy instruction session with a librarian, here are some best practices to consider to make the session successful:

  1. Complete the scheduling form as early in the semester (or before!) as possible. This helps to ensure that your first choice date is accommodated: http://library.uncw.edu/forms/request_library_instruction_session
  2. Request that the session be held close to the time that students will be working on their research project (essay, paper, etc.).  If the information is not immediately relevant, students may not pay close attention.  Think of the last time you flew ... did you pay close attention to those safety directions?
  3. Be sure that students fully understand the assignment prior to the instruction session.
  4. Be sure that students have selected at least a broad topic prior to the instruction session.
  5. Explain to the students why they are having the instruction session.
Information Literacy Instruction Program

You will likely hear your students tell you that they have "already been to the library for a session."  Librarians hear that a lot, too!  It might be helpful to explain to students that each session is different and that every session builds upon the one before, much in the same way that ENG 101 students will also take ENG 201. Students cannot possibly learn all information literacy skills in one session.  The session designed for First Year Seminar was designed differently from the session for ENG 100/101, as was the session for ENG 103/200/201.

Here's a graphic you might show to your students before they come to the session: Differences Between Sessions Graphic.

Here are the specific student learning outcomes and means of assessment for the information literacy sessions for English Composition courses: ENG 100/101 and ENG 103/200/201.

Creating an Effective Assignment that Incorporates Information Literacy

Librarians are happy to help you create an effective assignment that incorporates information literacy. You can contact Anne Pemberton, Associate Director, Library Assessment and Instructional Services (pembertona [at] uncw.edu) to get started.

A few basic tips when creating an assignment:

  1. DO NOT specify the format of information that students have to use (e.g. "You must have at least one source on microfilm").  The old model that scholarly sources are on microfilm or are in print is outdated.  Librarians end up helping students find a specific source that "fits" the assignment rather than teaching research skills that can be applied to any assignment.  This quick video helps explain.
  2. DO specify what type of publication students have to use (e.g. "You must use at least three scholarly, peer reviewed articles").  Be as specific as possible. Your students have not likely used scholarly, peer reviewed journals before.  You may need to spend time on this or ask that they review a tutorial on the topic (there are some here: http://library.uncw.edu/tutorials).
  3. If you do not want students to use freely available websites, specify what they should use.  A statement such as "Do not use the Internet" is terribly confusing and essentially "outlaws" 95% of the resources to which Randall Library subscribes.  A statement such as, "You may not use Wikipedia but you may use the online resources provided by Randall Library" might be suitable.
  4. Keeping tip #3 in mind, not all resources provided by Randall Library are considered "scholarly."  For example, students will find Newsweek and other popular publications in our ProQuest database.  The information literacy instruction sessions help to clarify this.  If you would like some verbiage to include on your assignment or syllabus we can help with that.
  5. When designing your assignment, consider the topic that students might choose.  If students are researching a "UNCW topic" will they be able to locate scholarly research articles on that?  If not, be sure students understand the broader context in which they can find scholarly articles.  For example, there will not be any scholarly research articles on UNCW having a football team.  But there will be scholarly articles on athletics in higher education.  We see students struggle with this frequently.
  6. Ask students to include a narrative or step-by-step account of their research process as part of the assignment.  This helps encourage students to think about, and plan, their research strategy.  You might also require students to include a completed search strategy worksheet with their first draft.  Anne Pemberton can send you a template that you can modify for your specific needs (pembertona [at] uncw.edu).
Information Literacy Resources

The following websites offer additional guidance on creating assignments and/or information literacy:

Creating Assignments

Information Literacy

No Time for a Full Session or Teaching Online?

If you do not have time for a full 50 minute or 75 minute session with a librarian we can offer the following:

  • A librarian can visit your classroom for a specific amount of time you identify.
    • 5 minutes allows us to say "Hello" and tell students how to get help.
    • 10 minutes allows us to also show students how to access subject guides, course guides and databases.
    • 15 minutes allows us to also quickly show basic searching concepts to create the best search strategies.
    • 25 minutes allows us to also briefly touch on the importance of evaluating information.
  • A librarian can create an online tutorial (or series of tutorials) you can send to your students or embed into Blackboard.
  • We can recommend a tool that will help students throughout the research process.
  • Please complete the scheduling form as early in the semester (or before!) as possible. This helps to ensure that your first choice date is accommodated: http://library.uncw.edu/forms/request_library_instruction_session

Lisa Coats
Humanities Librarian
coatsl [at] uncw.edu