Co-op at an academic library: information literacy and library instruction

Continuing from the first instalment of CAPAL member Siu Hong Yu’s co-op experience on outreach activities and bibliometrics, this part two follow-up highlights his other responsibilities focusing on information literacy and library instruction at the same academic library during the semester of Fall 2015:

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With respect to promoting the information literacy on research metrics, the Bibliometrics and Research Impact Librarian (BRIL) and I teamed up to deliver three workshops on bibliometrics. Hands-on exercises were incorporated into the presentations in an engaging way to more effectively deliver the learning objectives regarding the challenges and solutions of author identification as well as on using multidisciplinary databases to track other researchers and citation trends. Based on the previous experience over the summer teaching the same sessions, I streamlined the hands-on exercises for better in-class time management, came up with a live demo for the better illustration on a key, confusing concept and updated the speaking notes for the future instructors. Despite all of these efforts, however, the sessions were disappointedly poorly attended. I was not sure if it had anything to do with the marketing on the new library website or it was due to some other factors. To better connect with graduate students, the BRIL is currently exploring the idea of promoting the workshops through the university’s Office of Research.

Having been a member of the Library Instruction Committee (LINC) since the beginning of my co-op placement, I also assisted in the Accessing Government Information workshop and co-taught a LIB 003: Searching Databases session during the second half of my work term. Learning from the Accessing Government Information as well as other library workshops, I prepared a handout on Boolean operators and the use of quotation marks (“”), truncation (*) and wildcard (?) for my LIB 003. Students seemed to be more engaged because they had the handout to refer to during the session. Better yet, they could practice the concepts at home with the help of the handout. In a brainstorming exercise on keyword search, film/movie and dinner/supper were used as everyday examples so that the students could better relate to the idea of synonyms. When it came to evaluating the quantity and quality of search results, “Have you chosen the right database?” I asked and illustrated with an error of searching for the latest TV shows in a database of cooking recipes. My intention was to highlight the fact that where you start a search matters and to showcase the library website’s research guides as one of the best starting point for a successful search. The session was well received. One attendant even sent us a personal thank-you note and I suggested to the co-teaching librarian to solicit a user testimonial for the purpose of library marketing in the future.

pink-tieLast but not least, I was given the opportunity to assist in four curriculum-integrated workshops: two English Language for Academic Studies (ELAS) sessions designed for first year mathematics students who need help with their English skills, one NANO 100 and one ChE 100 sessions on sourcing information in nanotechnology and chemical engineering, respectively. Despite the wide variety of audience, all four sessions aimed at guiding the students through the initial steps of a research process and connecting them with the library resources available. The instructing liaison librarians all utilized some elements of the flipped classroom pedagogy where the students were asked to view and complete pre-class videos and exercises. Topics covered ranged from the differences between scholarly versus popular articles to the American Psychological Association citation style. During the in-class discussion, however, the concept of a journal article was still not clear for some students while most had difficulty defining the scope of their research question to effectively carry out a subject or keyword search for their final project. For me, it was interesting to get a firsthand experience on how curriculum-integrated library instruction was structured and run. To encourage participation, for example, the ELAS instructor used a process-focused approach for the in-class exercise and gave out pink-tie tokens whenever a student asked or answered a question. Those who had collected two pink ties would exchange their tokens for candies or pens at the end of the class! In retrospect, I wish I had the time and opportunity to involve with the lesson planning and student assessment process.

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From the launch of the new library website to the reference service remodelling, change was the only constant throughout my co-op it seemed. Amid all those changes and occasional self-doubt, at least the plants that I volunteered to take care of in the quiet study area were still alive and growing. Beyond being patient, flexible, responsive and proactive as attributed by a recent Evolution of Library Liaisons webinar as some of the core liaison librarian characters, I would always look up to the library users for inspirations and ask myself,

“What can I do to serve them better?”

“How can I teach more effectively?”

“How does my action impact their academic success?”

“Why is that marketing strategy not working?”

By the end of my co-op placement, many questions remained unanswered. I guess I will keep learning…

Stay tuned for the co-op or new-grad professional transition experience from other CAPAL members in the future!

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2 responses to “Co-op at an academic library: information literacy and library instruction

  1. Pingback: Co-op at an academic library: information literacy and library instruction — CAPAL: UWO Student Chapter – CAPAL Students

  2. Pingback: Co-op at an academic library: outreach activities and citation tracking | CAPAL: UWO Student Chapter

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