The Library and First-Year Seminars

Introduction

In November 2007 the Dickinson Faculty passed an APSC proposal to include information literacy in First Year Seminars: "First-year seminars will include at least one assignment requiring students to seek, evaluate and use information effectively and ethically with regard to academic honesty and citation. An annotated bibliography is an ideal way to reach this goal. We believe that integrating the library component through multiple short presentations and activities tied to assignments is preferable to the past practice of separate library meetings. We endorse use of the library's recently-developed skill "modules" and the requirements that all seminars use the academic honesty exercise."

Each FY Seminar has a Liaison Librarian assigned to it. The liaison's role is to work closely with the faculty member to incorporate information literacy instruction into the seminar. Your liaison librarian can help you by teaching group information literacy sessions tailored to your course content, providing examples of effective library research assignments, helping to grade information literacy assignments, meeting with students outside of class time in small groups or one-on-one to provide research skills consultations, and obtaining materials (e.g., books, films) to support your course.

 

Goals

Best Practices

Assessment

Faculty Feedback

Samples of Teaching Modules

Samples of Final Projects

Academic Integrity Instruction

 

Goals

First-Year Information Literacy Goal 1 (ASK)
First-year students will recognize the need for, identify, and select appropriate research tools that support their efforts to frame and answer an academic question. 

 

Students can demonstrate this goal by:

  • Finding background information on a topic
  • Choosing appropriate tools to answer a research question
  • Determining the relative academic quality of information obtained

Required tools:

  • Library’s website
  • Reference materials (print and online)
  • Google and other search engines

 

First-Year Information Literacy Goal 2 (ACQUIRE)
First-year students will develop relevant, balanced, and diverse lists of sources from the numerous alternatives available to them. 

 

Students can demonstrate achievement of this goal by:

  • Finding materials owned by the Waidner-Spahr Library, first in the online catalog and then in its physical format
  • Finding journal articles, both online and in print, using the library’s databases and journal lists
  • Uncovering quality information from freely available sources on the Internet
  • Learning how to obtain materials from other libraries

Required tools:

  • Library catalog
  • Journal Locator
  • Multidisciplinary article databases such as JumpStart
  • Subject specialty databases as appropriate to the topic
  • Palci’s EZ-Borrow and ILLIAD
  • Library maps

 

First-Year Information Literacy Goal 3 (APPRAISE)

First-year students will make distinctions among different types of sources and determine what type of source is best for each assignment.

 

Students can demonstrate achievement of this goal by:

  • Differentiating among  popular, scholarly, and news-based sources
  • Identifying criteria that make a source acceptable to use in an academic project

Required tools:

  • JumpStart or other database that clearly differentiates different types of sources
  • Examples of different types of sources

 

First-Year Information Literacy Goal 4 (APPLY ETHICALLY)
First-year students will write correct and complete bibliographic citations and will understand the importance of using information ethically in scholarly communication.

 

Students can demonstrate achievement of this goal by:

  • Preparing short reference lists or bibliographies in the style of the professor’s choosing
  • Locating a source when provided with its citation

Required tools:

  • The library’s web pages on citing
  • Appropriate citation guide books
  • Journal Locator

 

First-Year Information Literacy Goal 5 (SEEK HELP)
First-year students know what kind of assistance librarians provide, and know how to get help in the library.

 

Students can demonstrate achievement of this goal by:

  • Working with librarians frequently as educational partners in the context of their classes
  • Contacting a librarian for help and making appointments when they need research assistance

Required tools:

  • “Ask a Librarian” feature on the library’s website
  • Subject guides on the library’s website
  • Syllabi and Moodle pages, when the librarian is included as a resource

Best Practices

Information literacy goals are best achieved under a set of certain optimal conditions.  We have determined through various forms of assessment that course-integrated instruction sessions are most effective and final projects are of a better quality when:

  • Some of the allotted class time is devoted to active learning;
  • Several meetings with a librarian are scheduled;
  • The instruction remains focused on only one or two concepts per session;
  • The instruction takes place in a room which allows every student access to a computer;
  • The first-year seminar professor requires students to complete graded homework exercises to reinforce the concepts learned in class;
  • The first-year seminar professor requires students to complete a research-inclusive project, weighted relatively heavily in relation to the class grade, that includes the skills learned in individual library sessions;
  • The first-year seminar professor is highly engaged in the session (for example, by being present during the session, emphasizing the importance of the session, participating in classroom discussion, helping to design assignments, etc.); and,
  • The first-year seminar professor includes the library liaison as a resource on the class syllabus, in Moodle, on assignment sheets, and other class materials.

 

Assessment

At the request of the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and the Assistant Provost for First-Year Programs, the library staff has conducted an assessment each year to determine the effectiveness of our first-year information literacy efforts.  Two randomly selected students from each first-year seminar are asked to participate in the assessment.  These students complete an exercise lasting no longer than 30 minutes, in which they are asked to demonstrate a specific set of skills that align with the FY Seminar information literacy goals. 

The results of these assessments indicate that after completing the FY Seminar, the majority of students master basic skills, including:

  • using the library catalog and finding books
  • use of a general database to finding articles
  • how to avoid plagiarism
  • how to cite properly/prepare a bibliography
  • how to get research help from librarians

However, even after the FY Seminar, many students continue to struggle with:

  • evaluating information critically (e.g., identifying reliable information on the Internet)
  • distinguishing scholarly from non-scholarly sources

Development of these higher level critical thinking skills requires ongoing practice. Along with advanced research skills, these critical analysis skills are best developed and reinforced through ongoing information literacy instruction in upper level classes as the students advance through their major course of study.

In addition to the annual assessment, librarians continue to perform short assessments appended to in-class or homework assignments in order to monitor the effectiveness of individual classroom activities.  These assessments are designed to ensure that we deliver our best services to our students, and will help us continue to improve our information literacy program into the future.

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Faculty Feedback

Each year the librarians welcome faculty feedback on the effectiveness of the FY Seminar information literacy component. Below are some of the comments we have received:


“The annotated bibliography assignment was great. It got the students thinking early on about the sources for their final paper and allowed me to intervene if a student was off track. It was very useful to have the librarian give this assignment to the class and tell them how to do it.”


“Thank you for the research presentation that you gave my FY seminar… they all thought that it had been very helpful.  And, as I think I've mentioned to you before, I always learn something when I sit in on these sessions!”


“In the past, the library component was something I felt I had to endure…. But … [y]our presentations kept me engaged the whole time, and I think the students were actually surprised at how effectively they were drawn in. ….I STRONGLY suggest that instructors include the library component in their grading scheme. That helps the students to take it even more seriously! At the end of the course I asked for feedback from the students about the library exercises. I received all sorts of positive comments. “


“I thought the sessions were extremely helpful, in fact essential.”


“If I was doing the seminar over, I would include more library instruction. It made a huge difference.”

 

We welcome additional feedback! Contact your liaison librarian.


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Academic Integrity

The Academic Integrity session is designed to help students avoid plagiarism, and to ensure that all students understand College expectations. All incoming students receive this instruction, including First Year and transfer students. As voted on by faculty, this instruction is mandatory. Students will not be allowed to request courses for the Spring semester until they complete this module.

Since fall 2010, Academic Integrity instruction has been delivered online via Moodle. The online interactive tutorial is entitled "I Thought I Could Get Away With It....". Students can complete it on their own time by the specified deadline for their incoming class. Completion is tracked through Moodle. While the entire tutorial can only be viewed in Moodle, general information may be found on the Moodle Academic Integrity Tutorial webpage. First Year Seminar faculty are also given access to the tutorial. Other faculty wishing to view the tutorial should contact their liaison librarian for assistance.

 

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last updated 4/20/2011