Library Resources for the General Education Curriculum: Library Instruction

Library Instructional Services

Instruction in information literacy skills by a librarian can take many forms. The most traditional is a one-time class taught by a librarian during a scheduled class session, and can be arranged by using the Libraries' Request-a-Class form. Librarians can also teach a series of shorter sessions, co-teach with disciplinary faculty, or combine in-person instruction with other learning experiences. This page contains active learning activities that librarians may mix and match in their instruction, and can adapt based on disciplinary area and specific classes. All of the activities include an outcomes-based assessable component.

Library instruction in the GE Seminar is meant to complement library instruction in Writing 150. Writing 150 library instruction focuses on successful searching strategies, using citation to track scholarly conversations, and identifying the purpose, audience, and context of various information sources. Library instruction in GE Seminars focuses on formulating research questions, identifying the types of information sources within disciplines, evaluating ideas from multiple perspectives, and creating and communicating knowledge. (See the Information Literacy outcomes identified on the Home page of this guide.)

Outcome: Evaluating Ideas from Multiple Perspectives

Activity: Identifying Different Perspectives

Students break into groups; each group reads or watches a different short piece representing different perspectives on the same topic or question. [Librarians and/or instructors will need to locate sources appropriate to the seminar's topic - see a list of examples here.] Each group answers a set of guided questions, and posts their answers to a collaboratively-edited Google document. The librarian leads a discussion of how different perspectives contribute to scholarly conversations both large (disciplinary discourse) and small (in a research paper).

Using the Google Document template:

  1. Before the session, log in to USC Google Drive using your USC credentials. Click on the Identifying Different Perspectives template. Select "File" and then "Make a Copy" from the dropdown menu.
  2. Retitle and edit the copied document as you see fit. Choose sources with different perspectives on the same topic, depending on the topic of your seminar.
  3. Double check your "Share" settings in the top right corner. You want anyone to be able to edit the document if they have the link. This is not the default setting, so you will need to change it. Copy the shareable link. Shorten the URL using a URL shortener like Bit.ly or Goo.gl to the Google Sheet. This is the link you'll share with the class.
  4. Assessment: After class, share the Google Sheet with libinstr@usc.edu using the Share button in the top right corner. Please notify by email and include the section information to ease in assessment data collection. Please share your artifact as soon as possible and by the end of the semester.

Possible discussion questions:

  • How do these sources talk to each other?
  • What further perspectives do they refer to?
  • What does it mean for the author of a source to represent that source as unbiased or neutral?

 

Add-on (if students are creating their own research projects): The librarian describes strategies for locating sources from multiple perspectives. Students identify at least two perspectives they want to represent in their projects, and use library resources to locate one source from each perspective.

 

Activity: Scholarly Party

Developed by Ryer Banta, Undergraduate Experience Librarian at Montana State University and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

"For this activity students are asked to imagine that they are organizing a party, specifically a scholarly party. Groups are given a starting article that they evaluate and use as a jumping off point for choosing a theme for their party and finding more sources. Their theme acts as an early version of a research question. Following citations backwards and forwards groups invite other scholars who would have relevant things to say about their theme. Students also assess gaps in their invite list and identify other scholars from different perspectives or discipline who should also be invited."

Activity: Different Ways of Presenting Scientific Information

Have students watch either part or all of the 20-minute video below. (Warning: contains profanity.)

Use it to start a discussion, or have student seek out different representations of the same scientific information (for example, news articles about studies), and compare the information in them.

Outcome: Identifying the Contributions of Different Source Types

Activity: Cycle of Information

Librarian gives a demonstration of how to search in the libraries' Search and narrow by source type: newspaper, scholarly journal, book, reference source.

Students work in groups. Each group is given a brief description of, and date of, an event that relates their disciplinary category.  [Librarians and/or instructors will need to locate sources appropriate to the seminar's topic.] Events 5-10 years in the past work well, but for history-related seminars, you may wish to choose something older.

EXAMPLES:

  • first experiments of large hadron collider
  • trial of George Zimmerman
  • Arab Spring
  • debut of first Netflix-produced series Lilyhammer
  • Hurricane Sandy

Each group answers a set of guided questions using a Google form. The librarian leads a discussion of their answers after forms have been submitted.

Using the Google Document template:

  1. Before the session, log in to USC Google Drive using your USC credentials. Click on the Cycle of Information template. Select "File" and then "Make a Copy" from the dropdown menu.
  2. Retitle and edit the copied document as you see fit.
  3. Use the link "View live form" to share the form with students. Shorten the URL using a URL shortener like Bit.ly or Goo.gl to the Google Form. This is the link you'll share with the class.
  4. Assessment: After class, share the Google Form and its results with libinstr@usc.edu using the Share button in the top right corner. Please notify by email and include the section information to ease in assessment data collection. Please share your artifact as soon as possible and by the end of the semester.

This activity is an adaptation of an exercise in Teaching Information Literacy: 50 Standards-Based Exercises for College Students by Burkhardt, MacDonald, and Rathemacher.

Outcome: Formulating a Research Question

Activity: Broad and Narrow Research Questions

Librarian briefly discusses the nature of a research question, giving a few examples in the appropriate discipline.

Direct students to a source of research writing, such as an article from an undergraduate journal, a conference paper, or a policy paper. [Librarians and/or instructors will need to locate a source appropriate to the seminar's topic.] Direct them to read key parts of the source, such as the abstract and conclusion. The librarian leads a discussion and records answers to the following discussion questions in a Google Doc:

  • What is the research question being asked in this source?
  • What larger questions or disciplines does this research question fit into?
  • What further, more specific, or related research questions does this source explicitly identify?
  • What further, more specific, or related research questions could you explore based on this source?

Discuss what makes questions broader and narrower.

Then use the Google form below to let students practice.

Using the Google Form template:

  1. Before the session, log in to USC Google Drive using your USC credentials. Click on the Broad and Narrow Research Questions template. Select "File" and then "Make a Copy" from the dropdown menu.
  2. Retitle and edit the copied document as you see fit. Make sure to change the "broad topic" in the first question.
  3. Click on "View live form." Copy the shareable link. Shorten the URL using a URL shortener like Bit.ly or Goo.gl to the Google Sheet. This is the link you'll share with the class.
  4. The students' responses will populate an automatically created document in your Google Drive with the document's name followed by "Responses."
  5. Assessment: After class, share the Responses to the Google form with libinstr@usc.edu using the Share button in the top right corner. Please notify by email and include the section information to ease in assessment data collection. Please share your artifact as soon as possible and by the end of the semester.

Outcome: Creating and Communicating Knowledge

Activity: Communicating to Different Audiences

Students are provided with two different sources on the same topic - for example, a scientific study (A) and a newspaper article describing the results of that study (B). Students break into groups; each group answers a set of guided questions through a Google Form. Librarian leads a discussion of the results.

Variation: students are provided with sources before class, or use sources already on the course syllabus.

Using the Google Form template:

  1. Before the session, log in to USC Google Drive using your USC credentials. Click on the Communicating to Different Audiences template. Select "File" and then "Make a Copy" from the dropdown menu.
  2. Retitle and edit the copied document as you see fit. Make sure to change the "broad topic" in the first question.
  3. Click on "View live form." Copy the shareable link. Shorten the URL using a URL shortener like Bit.ly or Goo.gl to the Google Sheet. This is the link you'll share with the class.
  4. The students' responses will populate an automatically created document in your Google Drive with the document's name followed by "Responses."
  5. Assessment: After class, share the Responses to the Google form with libinstr@usc.edu using the Share button in the top right corner. Please notify by email and include the section information to ease in assessment data collection. Please share your artifact as soon as possible and by the end of the semester.