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The Librarian & Classroom Involvement Efficacy November 21, 2008

Posted by cynhudson in Innovation in Libraries, Library Stuff.

Have you ever wondered how well those one-shot bibliographic sessions really work with students? Wouldn’t it be better to teach multiple sessions or even (gasp!) co-teach a course? Well, a recent article in Reference Services Review seeks to answer just those questions. Be sure to check out the entire article, written by Meagan Bowler and Kori Street, for a more detailed explanation, but I’m going to summarize below.

Essentially, the librarians at Mount Royal College embedded themselves in specific courses with graduated levels of involvement.

  • Level One:  librarian taught a one-shot 60 minute information literacy course to students
  • Level Two:  librarian taught two instruction sessions focused on the research necessary to answer problem-based learning (PBL) assignments
  • Level Three:  the class was divided up into five PBL teams and one librarian was assigned to each PBL team
  • Level Four:  librarian co-taught the course and was identified as an information literacy expert
  • Level Five:  librarian co-taught the course and was not necessarily identified as an information literacy expert

To determine the efficacy of each level, librarians evaluated the improvement of information literacy (IL) skills. This was done by measuring the ability of students to locate, retrieve, evaluate and incorporate sources into their written and PBL assignments over the length of the course.  Results for the research component of assignments were as followed:

  • Level One:  12.9% improvement on written assignments; 9% improvement on PBL assignments
  • Level Two:  8.4% improvement on written assignments; 10.6% improvement on PBL assignments
  • Level Three:  4.9% improvement on written assignments; 21% improvement on PBL assignments
  • Level Four:  18% improvement on written assignments; 12.5% improvement on PBL assignments
  • Level Five:  <1% improvement on written assignments; >1% improvement on PBL assignments

The Level Five results are most surprising. The authors believe this low improvement score is directly related to the seamless integration of the librarian into the course. They find that perhaps it might be necessary to teach information literacy skills separate from subject specific knowledge.

Bowler and Street found that the most successful level of involvement for the research component of both the written and PBL assignments was Level Three.  It was also at this level that the greatest number of students self-reported that their IL skills had improved. Unfortunately, this level of involvement also required the greatest level of librarian participation and the cost is believed to be unsustainable.

Bowler, M. & Street, K. (2008) “Investigating the efficacy of embedment: experiments in information literacy integration”. Reference Services Review. 36(4), 438-449.



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