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LOEX2008: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Revamping a Freshman Seminar Information Literacy Program

Posted by comartslibrarian on May 2, 2008

Presented by Amanda Izenstark and Mary MacDonald, University of Rhode Island.

For the entire presentation, go to: and

Reduce student anxiety, boredom, librarian apathy

Reuse previous successes in instruction

Recycle the things about your sessions that meet your goals and outcomes.

URI 101: Freshman Seminar, started in 1995, introduces students to the Library and Catalog. This used a tour/lecture/worksheet apparoach. By 2006, this was feeling dated, instructors were losing enthusiasm about the course, and the future of URI 101 was unclear.

Two Models of Instructional Design: 1) Backward Design and 2) Deb Gilchrist’s Five Questions for Assessment Design.

Backward design from Making the Most of Understanding by Design (p. 17): Begin with desired results, determine acceptable evidence, design learning activities to achieve this.

Five Questions…:

  1. Outcome
  2. IL Curriculum – What does the student need to know to do this well
  3. Pedagogy – What activity will facilitate learning
  4. Assessment
  5. Criteria for Evaluation

URI used these five questions to determine what the student mentors wanted the students to know, and what the librarians wanted students to know. Student mentors are juniors or seniors who are helping new students acclimate to college life. There are 20-30 students per class.

The Result – A Three-Part Program

Pre-activity: Brief Web searching exercise that asked students to find sources suitable for college-level research

Classroom Session: Re-used library tours and exercises from other successful instruction sessions.

Post-Activity: Adapted scavenger hunt to incorporate a subject focus when possible. Required a thorough search of Library’s resources online (not in-person).

The goals of this program was to introduce students to library as a place (for group work, study) and to the array of services that support student research and learning (catalog and databases).

Assessment asked students (in a written survey):

  • Name three things you learned
  • Two things you’re unclear about
  • One thing you’ll do differently when researching

Assess and tweak the course! Use Active Learning techniques, create opportunities for in-class discussion, tailor activities to subject interests whenever possible.


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