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Library & Archives Grants: IMLS

Enhancing Developmental Research Skills in the Undergraduate Curriculum

In 1999, the library received a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to develop a model instructional program for faculty across the curriculum and throughout a students' education. Gustavus was the first liberal arts college to receive such a grant from the IMLS.


The Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library, Gustavus Adolphus College, undertook a two-year project to develop a model collaboration with faculty to enhance developmental research skills across the curriculum. Gustavus has a strong tradition of encouraging student research and inquiry; this project will give faculty and librarians the opportunity to develop tools to teach these skills effectively in a hybrid print/electronic information environment and will offer a laboratory for assessing student learning.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is a federal agency created by the Museum and Library Services Act of 1996. Its purpose is to strengthen libraries and museums so as to foster innovation, leadership, and lifetime learning.

From 1999
Libraries are on the cusp of change and researchers are faced with new resources and opportunities, but as the range of options expands, the skills needed to negotiate them increase in complexity. For the experienced researcher, adapting his or her research skills to these changes is a challenge; for the apprentice researcher, acquiring research skills in this changing environment is overwhelming. Our project has three components.

  • Two summer institutes for librarians in the Minnesota colleges that are members of the Oberlin Group to prepare them to provide leadership across the campus in developing active learning techniques for students learning research skills in the hybrid print/electronic environment. The focus of the first institute will be on developing teaching strategies and collaborative relationships with faculty to enhance research as an essential part of the curriculum. The focus of the second institute will be on developing assessment measures for academic libraries that address student outcomes.
  • A faculty development program that will involve two successive summer workshops for a pilot group of 30 faculty, 15 in each summer workshop, from across the disciplines so they can revise or develop courses that integrate developmental research experiences into the curriculum. The workshops will give faculty a chance to embed research instruction into the curriculum and will offer opportunities to explore ways to effectively teach research skills in a changing information environment. Follow up activities will engage these faculty in ongoing conversation as their courses are taught and evaluated.
  • An assessment plan that uses information gathered from students and faculty in the program to generate practical solutions to problems, to help faculty and librarians develop new ways to assess student learning, and to develop new theory about how students learn in the hybrid print/electronic information environment.

First Faculty Workshop

Monday, June 12
Morning Session

Welcome and Introduction to the week ahead
Master Class with Thomas Mann of the Library of Congress-
"What I Wish I'd Known about Research when I was a Student"

Afternoon Session
What we know about students' research habits and processes-
an overview of the research and discussion of student difficulties

Homework due today:
Write an informal, reflective narrative describing what your goals are for the week ahead. What problems do you want to address? If your course is new, in what ways do you anticipate developing students' research skills? If you are redeveloping a course, in what particular ways do you expect it to change?

Tuesday, June 13
Morning Session
Putting it into practice: participants will have an opportunity to get familiar with the classroom and its equipment. Librarians will begin developing resource guides for the courses under development. Thinking from a student's perspective, what are the challenges of finding information in a complex print/electronic environment? How can we help them through the maze?

Afternoon Session
Finding solutions: small groups will propose solutions for the problems identified Monday afternoon.

Homework due today:
Be thinking about problems students have with research and practical ways to help them out

Wednesday, June 14
Morning Session
Gretchen Moon of Willamette University on Creating Good Assignments

Afternoon Session
Work on assignments; librarians will consult with faculty and will work on short, reusable lab assignments for FTS classes

Homework due today:
Bring a research assignment you have used before-either one that worked well or one that didn't

Thursday, June 15
Morning Session
Critical thinking: how can we help students assess sources? Examining and evaluating web resources, selecting quality articles from a database, articulating the features that make a source a good one.

Afternoon Session
Sequencing assignments for developmental learning. A panel of experts will describe how they have used a series of assignments or tasks with feedback to develop student research skills incrementally. Small groups will explore ways to sequence skills in the courses under development

Homework due today:
Be thinking about how you know a good source when you see it-what features do you look to for clues of its value?

Friday, June 16
Morning Session
Mike Miller on assessing student learning in the classroom

Afternoon Session
Thinking campus-wide: what do we want Gustavus students to be able to do when they graduate? Which skills do they need? How can they learn them? Are there ways in which programs might intentionally develop these skills in some sequential way?

Homework assignment due Wednesday, June 21st:
Reread the reflective narrative you prepared before the workshop. Write an addendum: have your goals for the course changed? What did you learn and how do you expect to apply it? What do you plan to do from here?

Homework for the rest of the year:
Please provide Barbara Fister with copies of your syllabi (and if you are redeveloping a course, please provide "before and after" copies, whether or not there has been much change) your written assignments, other class materials that may relate to developing research skills, and copies of student work. These are important materials for the research side of this Research and Demonstration project.


Leila Brammer
An introductory course in public speaking, introducing materials and methods of developing ideas, organization, and delivery.

Henry Hays
This course is a study of the factors influencing the economic modernization of less developed countries including cultural, human, and natural factors involved in the appearance and disappearance of economic resources. Topics Include: economic growth and development, poverty and income distribution, food problems, population growth, environment and development, sustainable development, capital formation, investment allocation, structural transformation, planning, markets, the role of the state, privatization, third world debt, development planning, macroeconomic stabilization policies, and the international economics of development. The effect of economic advancement on the rates of resource utilization and its implications for less-developed countries, more-developed countries, and world resources will be examined.

Jeanne Herman
This senior seminar is a capstone course which will focus on professional issues, scholarship, research, and graduate study in health education.

Bruce H. Johnson
Analysis and application of alternative research methods to marketing and management decision-making problems in profit and not-for-profit organizations.

Patricia Kazarow
This seminar introduces first-time college students to critical thinking and a discussion of values, and develops oral and written communication skills, through an investigation of the power of music. Its major purpose will be to explore the many and diverse ways in which music affects us in our societies and cultures. We will examine Western and non-Western musical examples ranging from plainsong and classical music to music of the gamelan and toning. We also will read relevant works by philosophers, literary figures, mystics, composers, and others. How does music affect your moods? Why do malls, medical offices, and businesses offer customers and patients music by which to shop, relax, and wait? Why were you inspired to make a life-changing decision after hearing a concert? These questions and others will be answered by readings, in class experiential activities, attending musical events, and group discussions.

Pam Kittleson
A course for students interested in microenvironmental measurement and the physiological integration of plant performance in response to natural conditions. Topics include: (l) variation in physical, chemical, and biological factors important to plants in the field; (2) plant control over the exchange of energy and matter with the environment, including radiation, heat, water, gases, and inorganic nutrients; (3) the physiology of photosynthesis and transpiration; and (whole-plant integration through transport processes and hormonal regulation. These are related to ecology and to applied topics such as agriculture and environmental issues (e.g., global climate change).

Richard Leitch
(New course under development-no course description yet available.)

Mariangela Maguire
This course introduces students to qualitative communication research methods and emphasizes those methods grounded in the human sciences tradition. We examine the kinds of questions researchers ask, the assumptions about human experience that are beneath those questions, and the relevance of the research findings to our everyday lives. Working alone or in small students conduct research projects using unstructured interviews, lived-experience descriptions, and/or participant-observation. There is a strong emphasis on the process of writing up qualitative research.

Amy Seham
Historical overview of theatre practice and plays to 1800, with a particular emphasis on key periods or cultures. Developments or changes in practice or form will be considered, and the relationship between artistic and cultural values will be discussed. Close readings of the dramatic texts and study of the contributions of individual theatre artists will provide the focus of the course. Consideration is given to both western and nonwestern theatre forms.
Historical overview of theatre practice and plays from 1800 to the present, with a particular emphasis on key periods or cultures. Developments or changes in practice or form will be considered, and concurrent trends in literature, philosophy and art will be discussed in relation to theatre. Close readings of the dramatic texts and study of the contributions of individual theatre artists will provide the focus of the course.

Mary Solberg
An introduction to the study of ethical problems in the context of health care and the practice of medicine. Issues studied will include the problems that arise at the beginning and end of life, the duties of professionals and the rights of patients, the meaning of "health" and "disease," the social causes of illness, medical research, and the adequacy of health care delivery. The inquiry will informed by the perspectives of contemporary Western moral philosophy, historic and contemporary Christian ethics, and social theory.

Andy Vaughn
This course examines the accounts of creation in Genesis and in other ancient Near Eastern literature. Primary texts and iconography will provide the basis for studying the role of creation in the religious life and political systems of Israel and other ancient Near Eastern societies. This study of creation will provide a window through which to better understand Genesis as a whole as well as large portions of the Hebrew Scriptures. Students will pursue independent interests related to these topics, and this research will culminate in a final paper.

Phil Voight
An introduction to the forms, roles, and practice of critical thinking and reason-giving discourse. Emphasis will be on the role of argument in society, and composition of arguments. Students apply their knowledge of argument through debates on significant topics.

Kate Wittenstein
What does it mean to think historically? What distinguishes various approaches within the discipline-e.g. social, political, intellectual history-and how, in practice, do those approaches often converge? How does comparative history change our understanding of the past? This seminar addresses such questions through exploration of a general topic with the instructor and collaborating history faculty. Possible topics include the state and society, war and society, the individual and history, rebellions and revolutions. Open to sophomore and junior majors.
A survey of major events and personalities in the history of women in America and of methods used to explore that history. The course emphasizes uncovering the everyday lives of American women through a study of transformations in women's work, family lives, and culture. It assesses the impact of the Industrial Revolution in separating private from public life. Topics include experiences of women in different racial and ethnic groups, rise of the women's rights movement, labor force participation, and changing attitudes toward female sexuality. This course counts toward the women's studies minor. HUMAN.

Linnea Wren
An introduction to the painting, sculpture, and architecture of Native American culture in Mexico, Guatemala, and North America from 700 B.C. to 1500 A.D. The art forms will be studied as indications of the religious and philosophical thought of the peoples who created them.

Howard Cohrt
Barbara Fister
Sandy Fuhr
Mike Haeuser
Dan Mollner
Don Zhou


Second Faculty Workshop

What the faculty want out of this week:

Learn to teach research skills in an electronic classroom; come up with effective assignments; develop a course bibliography . . .

I want to design a lab exercise in which the students are assigned a variety of "problems" to solve involving a search for information on a topic . . . in preparation for an independent class project.

Hone my own research skills and subsequently my teaching strategies . . .

To improve the writing components . . . to share ideas with other faculty members as to how they assess progress of various writing assignments

To learn more about how print and electronic media interface and overlap . . . I'd like to develop a series of research assignments . . . increasing in complexity, effectively making use of both print and electronic media.

. . . to develop an understanding of the possibilities of electronic materials, to locate appropriate sources, and to construct a research project that is incremental so that students are engaged in it throughout the whole course of the semester.

. . . redesign these courses to be more research intensive, using both secondary and primary sources in print, and electronic sources, and thus, better focus students to be responsible learners.

What they want their students to be able to do:

How to find accurate information, write about it, and present it . . . Many of our students go on to assume leadership roles within the first two years of graduation or go on to grad school . . .

. . . to conduct bibliographic research using both electronic and print resources and, most importantly, to distinguish between authentic, refereed scholarship and the burgeoning number of web sites that present material, sometimes plagiarized, that is of questionable value and often unknown origin.

. . . to work effectively with selected reference works related to the course topic and will know how to define, refine, and research a topic, drawing on print and electronic sources both. I also expect they will develop some skill in evaluating on-line sources as well as, more generally, in reading primary sources critically.

. . . utilize library resources to identify a culture for study and thereafter successfully "forage" for information about that culture in various media. I want them to be able to locate sources in different time frames, critically evaluate the sources, and fit the resulting information into an ethnographic framework.

Students will be encouraged to be aggressive in searching information resources for visual images as well as text materials. So much of our information is visual that I wish to stress the impact it may have . . .

Take a novel research idea (or one that is based on a research publication) and do a thorough literature search, including finding reliable internet information (and being able to identify what is reliable).

. . . approach research projects in a manner that is organized, makes good use of their time, and gives them a sense that they have the skills to interpret sources instead of merely paraphrasing them. I would like them to understand that they have responsibility and power in learning.

. . . to become more skilled at raising questions about context . . .

. . . to engage in scholarly conversations about sources. I share the common concern of teachers everywhere with the uncritical student use of web materials. I see this as a way to insist that they think consciously about the source of their materials, what gives a source authority, what makes a website trustworthy. I would hope that the same questions they will have to bring to any sources that we examine in these courses will be questions that they can and will ask of materials they encounter on the web in other contexts as well.

. . . to empower them to become much better informed about national and international affairs and issues and to develop a much higher civic consciousness and global awareness. I would also hope that they would then feel both curious to better inform themselves about social and political issues, and comfortable with researching both the contexts and the fine points of the issues by having rapid and confident access to quality information.

It is absolutely critical to develop research skills at the first stages of a college career. I want to encourage a capacity among my first year students for independent, critical thinking which can lead to a sense of authority and confidence in their thinking, writing, and oral expression.

. . . to be able to make connections among various disciplines within the liberal arts; to have a greater appreciation of the importance of research in English as a discipline and their education as a whole.

. . . Most written work a student writes for college should involve a balance of research and original thought. This course will give all students practice in discovering that balance . . .


Monday, June 11
Interpretive Center

Morning Session
Welcome and introduction to the project and the week ahead

Brave New World: a conversation with Bill DeJohn, Director of the MINITEX Library Information Network on trends in libraries and information delivery and what it means for our students and their learning.

Afternoon Session
What problems do students have as they do research? What are some practical ways to help them master complex skills in an increasingly complex library?

Homework for today:
Write an informal, reflective narrative describing what your goals are for the week ahead. What problems do you want to address? If your course is new, in what ways do you anticipate developing students' research skills? If you are redeveloping a course, in what particular ways do you expect it to change?

Tuesday, June 12
Library Electronic Classroom

Morning Session
An introduction to teaching and learning in an electronic classroom; afterwards, faculty will work one-on-one with librarians to develop course resource lists.

Afternoon Session
Continue exploring resources; finish with a discussion of what faculty found and how they feel about using electronic resources; how has this experience influenced their view of student research difficulties?

Homework for today:
Think about the difficulties students have in doing research that relate to the complexity of the hybrid print/electronic environment and the assumptions and habits they bring to class. How can we help them overcome those often false assumptions about computers and the web and make them more familiar with the processes through which knowledge is produced?

Wednesday, June 13
Library Electronic Classroom

Morning Session
Evaluating sources. How can we help students evaluate web sources? Exercise in searching and making choices in an unfamiliar discipline. What are some practical ways we can help students be critical searchers and critical readers?

Afternoon Session-- Linner Lounge
Sequencing research activities and assignments to help students develop and practice research skills.

Homework for today:
Be thinking about how you know a good source when you see it-what features do you look to for clues of its value? Which of these strategies are ones students unfamiliar with the field are able to employ? When students fail to choose authoritative, appropriate sources, what mistakes are they making-and how can we guide them past those mistakes?

Bring to the afternoon session examples of research assignments and/or exercises you have used in courses before.

Thursday, June 14
Linner Lounge

Morning Session
Carol Rutz, Carleton Writing Program Director. What are principles of good assignment design? What models are available that fit researched writing tasks? Which model will fit your course goals?

Afternoon Session
Individual and group work on drafting assignments followed by reporting and discussion.

Homework for today:
Think about research assignments you have used in the past. What about them seemed to work? What didn't? Were there unanticipated problems that students had in carrying them out?

Friday, June 15
Linner Lounge

Morning Session
Deb Pitton on assessing student learning. What can we do to figure out where are students are? What are some ways we can give students useful feedback that will guide their development as researchers?

Afternoon Session
Thinking campus-wide: what do we want Gustavus students to be able to do when they graduate? Which skills do they need? How can they learn them? Are there ways in which programs might intentionally develop these skills in some sequential way?

Homework assignment due Wednesday, June 20th:
Reread the reflective narrative you prepared before the workshop. Write an addendum: have your goals for the course changed? What did you learn and how do you expect to apply it? What do you plan to do from here?

Homework for the rest of the year:
Please provide Barbara Fister with copies of your syllabi (and if you are redeveloping a course, please provide "before and after" copies, whether or not there has been much change) your written assignments, other class materials that may relate to developing research skills, and copies of student work. These are important materials for the research side of this Research and Demonstration project.


Laura Behling
ENG 121: American Literature I
A survey of American literature from pre-Columbian Native American oral traditions through the Puritan and Revolutionary periods culminating with the American Renaissance. The writings of authors such as Bradstreet, Franklin, Douglass, Fuller, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman, and Dickinson will be studied for their aesthetic, historical, and cultural implications.

ENG 122: American Literature II
A survey of American literature since the Civil War emphasizing the richness and diversity of American voices and literary traditions. The prose, poetry, and drama of authors such as Twain, James, Chopin, Eliot, Hemingway, Faulkner, Hughes, Baldwin, Kingston, and Erdrich will be studied for their aesthetic, historical, and cultural implications

Claude Brew
ENG 334: The Victorian Age
During the Victorian era, England reached its pinnacle of power and prestige. Its trade was four times that of the United States, France, Germany, and Italy combined. It had established a world empire. England also experienced the upheavals of the Irish Rebellion, the Women's Movement, Industrialism, Darwinism, and foreign wars. Such a culture nurtured one of the great literary periods, producing such novelists as Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, Thomas Hardy, and George Eliot; such poets as Alfred Lord Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, Gerard Manly Hopkins; such great essayists as Matthew Arnold, John Stuart Mill, John Henry Newman, and Thomas Carlyle.

Nancy Butler
BIO 383: Freshwater Biology
The biology of aquatic ecosystems is an integrative approach, drawing on previous background in the sciences. Topics include the physical, chemical, and biological nature of water. A hands-on experimental and problem-oriented laboratory emphasizes field work and experience. Two lectures and two two-hour laboratories weekly.

Eric Carlson
HIS 223: Medieval England
After their prehistoric settlement, the British Isles were often invaded and conquered -- by Romans, Vikings, Anglo-Saxons and Normans. This course covers British history during the period of settlement and conquest through 1399. Equal attention will be given to social, cultural, political and religious history. Topics will include: the prehistory and invasions of Britain; marriage and family life; work and everyday life in country, town and city; crime and social problems ; the impact of the Norman Conquest; Magna Carta and the creation of parliament; the English church and popular religious practices; sports and entertainment. Mixed lecture and discussion format.

HIS 224: England, 1399-1688
This is a study of England from the overthrow of Richard II by Henry IV to the Glorious Revolution. Equal attention will be given to developments in politics, religion, social change, and culture. Topics include: England's emergence from political chaos into world power; the English Reformation; the growth of parliament; the agricultural revolution; changing roles for women; popular culture and beliefs; witchcraft and magic.

Tom Emmert
FTS: Ethnic Conflict in Europe: The Yugoslav Case
The violent war in the former Yugoslavia which began in 1991 and continued to the summer of 1999 in the southern Serbian province of Kosovo represents the last chapter in a twentieth century experiment in creating and sustaining a multinational state in this complex region of Europe. Through literature, historical documents, memoirs, and the American media we will examine the roots of the conflict and the tragic conflict itself. We will also explore the argument that this conflict may be only the first of many such struggles in the fragile post-cold war world.

Nancy Hanway
SPA 320: Spanish-American Culture
This course presents the major issues of Spanish-American culture. Among them are the question of cultural regions or zones based on geographical factors. Cultural evolution is traced from the pre-hispanic origins of the regions through the colonial and post-colonial periods. Particular attention is focused on the concept of cultural identity and the process of fusing indigenous, European, African, and other influences. This course is taught entirely in Spanish. Discussions and student writing are a major component of the course.

Greg Kaster
HIS 331: Revolutionary America
This course examines the social, political, cultural, and intellectual history of Revolutionary America (1750-1790) from a multicultural perspective. Events are viewed not simply through the eyes of the "Founding Fathers," but from the perspectives of native-Americans, African-Americans, women, and white workers and farmers as well. Major topics include the imperial relationship with Britain, the ideology of resistance and independence, the experience of Revolutionary soldiers, American constitutionalism, and social conflict within the colonies and the new states.

Faith Kirkham Hawkins
REL 380: Paul, His Interpreters, and His Critics
An investigation of the passionate life and compassionate thought of the first-century apostle whose insights have at once richly informed subsequent Christian theology and attracted a broad range of critical assessment. The class will read and discuss Paul's undoubted letters and the reactions of such major interpreters as Augustine, Luther, Kierkegaard, Schweitzer, Barth, Bultmann, and Stendahl. Students will be aided in pursuing independent interests evoked or enhanced by an understanding of the Pauline message. This research will issue in a final paper.

Colleen Keen
GEG 235: Subsaharan Africa
This is a regional course providing an introduction to the physical, social, economic and political environments of the continent. We will attempt to set aside our cultural bias and step into the complexity of Africa with its triple heritage: the African traditional society, the Islamic influence, and the influence of the European colonists. To come to an understanding of Africa, it is important to recognize the influence of cultural bias in approaches to problems. In this way "development" programs will be assessed on the basis of acceptability in the cultural context and appropriateness in terms of sustainablility and affordability. Thus, throughout the course, a Western and a Non-Western view is contrasted.

Karen Larson
IDS 213: Indigenous People Globally
A survey of indigenous people (i.e. Aborigines, Native Americans, Lapps, etc.) on six continents. Both historical and contemporary perspectives on these small, highly significant, often non-western human cultures will be studied. There will be a dual focus on both their autonomy and their contact and interrelationships with Western immigrant groups and other majority cultures.

Gregory Mason
PCS 211: Introduction to Peace Studies
The course first examines the causes of violence among individuals, groups and nations, and then considers nonviolent alternatives. The course considers the concept of peace itself, the nature of aggression, the competing claims of just war versus pacifist theories, and the concepts of structural violence and negative and positive peace as they relate to issues of societal oppression, human rights, and the culture of violence.

Bruce McClain
ART 253: Twentieth Century Art and Architecture
A study of the visual form and content of the art and architecture of the twentieth century. Variations of the major styles of expressionism, abstractionism, and surrealism will be observed and discussed through slide lectures, gallery visits, readings, and projects.

Don Scheese
GEOG 350: American Environmental History
What is the relationship between culture and the land upon which it exists? How are people shapers of as well as shaped by the nonhuman environment? These are some of the questions the new field of environmental history seeks to answer. This course will focus on different bioregions of North and South America from the pre-Columbian era of Native occupation to the present in order to study the creation of different landscapes over time.

Joyce Sutphen
ENG 365: W.B. Yeats
A thorough study of the poems, plays, essays, and memoirs of W.B. Yeats. (New course under development).

Roland Thorstensson
FTS: Scandinavia and the New Europe
This seminar introduces first-time college students to critical thinking and a discussion of values, and develops oral and written communications skills, through an investigation of the history, literature, art and philosophies of the Scandinavian people. Are there really five different Scandinavian countries? What have they contributed to European culture? What are their roles in "the New Europe"? This course will explore these questions by surveying the history, literature, art, and philosophies of the Scandinavian peoples. Students will examine developments and issues in Scandinavian culture from the Middle Ages to the present day and read works of fiction that reflect life and thought in contemporary Scandinavia. Sample topics are: the legacies of the Vikings, the Icelanders, Gustavus II Adolphus, Carl von Linnaeus and Alfred Nobel; emigration-immigration; from a homogenous to a heterogeneous North; the Scandinavian welfare state; Scandinavia and the European Union; from Abba to Robyn; the new exports.

Jane Walgenbach
FTS: How Did I Get Here?
Description unavailable

NUR 350: Family Health
This course emphasizes the health of families and communities. The student acquires skills in family assessment, explores the childbearing process and considers the impact of issues such as family violence. Health of communities is studied through topics of epidemiology, communicable disease, impact of the environment and the influence of culture on health practices. Students work in groups to assess a community and develop a plan to meet an identified health need. Clinical experiences are provided in maternity care, home care and public health nursing agencies. The educator role of the professional nurse is emphasized.

Barbara Zust
NUR 384: Nursing in Complex Systems
This writing intensive course explores the profession of nursing in relation to the health care system and legal, political, and economic forces in society. Professional issues are examined, such as scope of practice, credentialing, nursing organizations, the image of nursing, research based practice, educational preparation and lifelong learning. Discussions, case studies and oral presentations assist the student to develop ethical decision making and critical thinking skills. Emphasis is placed on the role of the nurse as leader-manager. Clinical experiences focus on providing nursing care to groups of adults with complex health problems in metropolitan health facilities.

Assumptions and Rationale

We approached this project with five assumptions in place.

First, we believe that research is a valuable experience for undergraduates.1 Research, even at a rudimentary level, demands critical thinking, reading, composing, and the formation of independent judgment. Research experiences-whether simple problem-solving tasks or more complex data-gathering and analysis-give students a deeper understanding of how knowledge is formed and how conflicting ideas can be negotiated. When they do research they actively play a role in knowledge formation, and can come to "own" their knowledge more profoundly than if they learn more passively through lectures or textbooks. The researcher, in effect, becomes a collaborative participant in the construction of knowledge, not merely a consumer of information.

Second, we believe that research as an activity is situated within disciplinary frameworks, and so needs to be addressed in terms of specific research traditions.

Third, we believe that the research process is complex and recursive and involves not just finding information but framing and refining an appropriate question, choosing and evaluating appropriate evidence, negotiating different viewpoints, interpreting material, and composing some kind of response. We need to bear in mind as we teach that research is a non-linear discovery process, not a set of discrete techniques.

Fourth, we believe that research skills, like writing skills, are developmental. They can't be mastered in a single library session but must be built upon and practiced, both throughout the entire process of a research project and through the course of a student's education.

And finally, we believe that the new technologies are offering more choices and more challenges, but the higher level skills employed in research are essentially the same whether you are using print or electronic resources. Too often instruction focuses on how the machine works or creates an artificial distinction between the medium and the information it contains. Though the researcher today must be able to use electronic tools, and know what is available and when it will be most useful, it is more important that he or she understands how these tools fit into the larger activity of research.

Librarians have expressed doubts about the effectiveness of traditional course related library instruction for many years. In 1990 Tom Eadie made the contentious claim that library instruction, as it is commonly practiced, is a waste of time because it "provides the answer before the question has arisen" (45). Earlier Stephen Stoan pointed out that the "research strategies" librarians teach bear little resemblance to the strategies used by researchers, but rather emulate librarians' methods for answering reference questions. Barbara Valentine described actual research strategies as being driven more by practical needs and a desire to finish a project quickly than by a sophisticated engagement with the process. In a similar vein Carol Kuhlthau, Constance Mellon and Barbara Fister have all found students' actual research practices differ significantly from the research strategies recommended by librarians, and all discovered that the process is more complex and less linear than generally acknowledged. In spite of good intentions, library instruction hasn't played the pivotal role it could; it is telling that a recent Boyer Commission report on Reinventing Undergraduate Education puts great emphasis on the need for research to be the focal point for undergraduate learning, but nowhere in the report are library instruction programs mentioned as a supporting player.

If anything, the need for successful instruction in research skills is greater than ever. The current hybrid print/electronic library offers more resources and more opportunities, but also poses more problems for the inexperienced researcher. Publishing is undergoing a revolution. The Web makes it possible for anyone to publish for a world-wide audience, and the need to evaluate sources and sort through a myriad of choices, always tricky for novice researchers, has become a pressing issue. Scientific, technical, and medical publishers are moving toward putting their periodicals online, making more available but the search process more variable. Libraries, once developed as collections tailored to local needs, are now increasingly a gateway to shared resources that offer more but are less closely attuned to the undergraduate's particular needs. A study conducted in 1997 by John Lubans found that college students still feel a need to use print as well as electronic resources and that many of them don't feel confident about their ability to find information effectively. A follow-up study of high school students suggested they are more likely to favor electronic resources but still need help finding quality resources. The plethora of electronic products and their variant interfaces make the mechanics of research more demanding. Discussions on such electronic forums as BI-L and COLLIB-L demonstrate that librarians everywhere are struggling with inventing new ways to focus on research processes rather than tools, a more pressing issue now that the tools have become more complex. Janet Martorana and Keith Gresham warn that electronic classrooms can actually work against good practice, leading instruction to focus on mechanics rather than transferable concepts. Just as the mechanics become more complex, the need for learning conceptual models that transcend those specifics grows more important.

A collaborative approach, embedding the learning of skills in the curriculum, is an alternative that many find attractive, but it is difficult to achieve. "Information literacy" has been touted by Patricia Senn Brievik, D.W. Farmer and others as a new approach that could ensure that students can identify information needs, and find, use and evaluate information, learning skills they can apply throughout their life time. But it requires that librarians establish stronger partnerships. Loanne Snavely and Natasha Cooper have analyzed the ways in which establishing an information literacy program might compete with other agendas in higher education, arguing that it can be successfully integrated into other goals. Some librarians argue that partnerships between libraries and computing organizations on campus focused on using technology in the curriculum can lead to fruitful alliances; the UWired project at the University of Washington is an exemplary model. Others, such as Jean Sheridan, feel that alliances with faculty in the disciplines are more crucial and point to writing-across-the-curriculum programs as a model that could be emulated by librarians seeking to embed research skills in the disciplines.

We feel that, while working with the academic computing staff is important, collaborations with faculty are the key to a successful research skills program. As is found on many campuses, our faculty value research as a learning experience for undergraduates, but have not examined what changes need to be made in the curriculum to integrate those experiences in a manner that successfully addresses students' developmental needs. Librarians here and elsewhere are finding that research skills are too important and too complex to be taught successfully through traditional, library-based means. We feel it is time for academic librarians to empower faculty to teach research skills holistically and in context, taking more responsibility for modeling the craft of research for student apprentices, just as the writing-across-the-curriculum placed the responsibility for writing instruction in the hands of faculty in the disciplines.

This project was developed out of focus group discussions with faculty and was defined by their statement of need. Faculty in a variety of disciplines, including art, English, foreign languages and communication studies, have expressed a strong interest in participating in the first summer program. We believe Gustavus Adolphus College, because of its long-standing instruction program, successful writing-across-the-curriculum experience, interest in assessment of student outcomes, and commitment to undergraduate research, is an ideal place to implement this model.

The library staff began to develop a strategic plan with an all staff retreat in May of 1997. We identified five areas of concern, and every member of the staff served on a committee to gather data and compile recommendations. A final report was completed in January 1998. The task of refiguring library services to adapt to the opportunities and challenges of new technologies emerged as the dominant theme, and we quickly identified support for hands-on instruction integrating print and electronic resources as a critical priority. As we approached the problem of teaching research skills effectively, we held a series of conversations with students and faculty to get a wider perspective on the issues involved. Out of those conversations this proposal began to evolve.

Faculty were most interested in opportunities for developing pedagogical support for research in the curriculum. They felt that technology wasn't the challenge, using it well was. They also felt strongly that distinctions often made between print and electronic texts were superficial; that the most intractable problems students faced when doing research had to do with understanding where knowledge comes from, evaluating sources, and knowing how to ask questions and frame answers in terms appropriate to scholarship in the disciplines, all issues that are not dependent on the format of information. Students recognized many of the same problems and wanted to have more effective and sustained help in learning how to do research, asking that help come from both librarians and faculty in terms that address both finding information and putting it to use effectively. In particular they found library workshops conducted by librarians to be of some help, but expressed a desire for faculty in the disciplines to be more involved in teaching research skills and they wanted those skills to be taught intensively across the entirety of a course, integrating the finding of information with problem formulation, evaluation, and use of sources in writing.

What we learned from these focus groups bore out some of our assumptions. Students need different kinds of help throughout the research process, they need to engage in real research tasks repeatedly throughout their college careers in order to master research skills, and classroom faculty need to be involved in teaching the different stages of the research process within the conventions of the disciplines. As a result of these findings and of our strategic planning process we built and furnished a new instruction lab in the library that can serve as a facility for faculty development, for the active learning that students report as more effective than traditional lecture and demonstration, and for guided practice in the critical evaluation of both electronic and print resources.

We also learned many people are interested in seeing that the college's research instruction efforts are improved. Though the library has a good instruction program-a 1994 external review of the library said it was "excellent in both quantity and quality"-it only scratches the surface. Our program, like most academic library programs, depends primarily on course-related sessions, tailored to class assignments, with the addition of first-year orientation tours and workshops and occasional credit courses. The typical class involves a 50-minute session in the library and includes, whenever possible, collaborative hands-on experience with research materials and an annotated resource guide. The course-related instruction model acknowledges that research skills are contextualized in disciplines and that learning will be most effective when tied to a genuine need, but it fails to address research skills developmentally-most library sessions occur only once in a semester and don't build sequentially on one another-and does not integrate finding information into the total research process because the brief session tends to focus on locating information, with only a nod toward how that information might ultimately be put to use. It seemed clear from our strategic planning process and our conversations with students and faculty that the concerns librarians, faculty, and students have about research instruction are convergent and would benefit from a stronger collaboration among librarians and the teaching faculty so that faculty would have an opportunity to design research instruction into their teaching.

1. We are using the word "research" in the broadest sense.  By that term we mean any activity that involves gathering and interpreting information in order to yield meaning, whether through original data gathering, synthesizing secondary material, laboratory work informed by previous published research, or any other form of inquiry that makes use of information.  This definition of the word embraces the multiple paradigms used in the academic disciplines as well as inquiry methods that satisfy information needs outside the academic disciplines.

Works cited
Boyer Commission on Education Undergraduates in the Research University.  Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A Blueprint for America's Research Universities.  Modified May 5, 1998.  <>, accessed March 17, 1999.
Breivik, Patricia Senn and E. Gordon Gee.  Information Literacy: Revolution in the Library.  New York: American Council on Education, 1989.
Eadie, Tom.  "Immodest Proposals: Library Instruction for Students Does Not Work."  Library Journal 115 (October 15, 1990): 42-45.
Farmer, D. W. and Terrence F. Mech, eds.  Information Literacy: Developing Students as Independent Learners.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1992.
Fister, Barbara.  "The Research Processes of Undergraduate Students."  Journal of Academic Librarianship 18 (1992): 163-169.
Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library Strategic Plan.  January 1998. <>, accessed March 17, 1999.
Gresham, Keith.  "Electronic Classrooms: Linking Information Concepts to Online Exploration."  RQ 36 (June 1997): 514-520.
Kuhlthau, Carol Collier.  "Developing a Model of the Library Search Process: Cognitive and Affective Aspects."  RQ 28 (Winter 1988): 232-242.
Lubans, John. How First Year University Students Use and Regard Internet Resources.  Revised, April 8, 1998.   <>, accessed March 17, 1999.
Lubans, John. Key Findings on Internet Use among Students. Jan. 15, 1999..  <>, accessed October 7, 1999.
Martonana, Janet and Carol D. Doyle.  "Computers On, Critical Thinking Off: Challenges of Teaching in the Electronic Environment."  Research Strategies 14 (Summer 1996): 184-191.
Mellon, Constance.  "Process not Product in Course-Integrated Instruction: A Generic Model of Library Research."  College and Research Libraries 45 (November 1984): 471-478.
Model Statement of Objectives for Academic Bibliographic Instruction Chicago: Bibliographic Instruction Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries, 1987. <>, accessed March 17, 1999.
Sheridan, Jean, ed. Writing-Across-the-Curriculum and the Academic Library: A Guide for Librarians, Instructors, and Writing Program Directors.  Westport: CT: Greenwood, 1995.
Snavely, Loanne and Natasha Cooper.  "Competing Agendas in Higher Education: Finding a Place for Information Literacy."  Reference and User Services Quarterly 37 (Fall 1997): 53-62.
Stoan, Stephen K.  "Research and Library Skills: An Analysis and Interpretation." College and Research Libraries 45 (March 1984): 99-109.
Valentine, Barbara.  "Undergraduate Research Behavior: Using Focus Groups to Generate Theory.  Journal of Academic Librarianship 19 (November 1993): 300-304.

First Summer Workshop for Librarians

How do liberal arts colleges respond to the "Information Literacy" movement-is this something new, or has higher education finally recognized what we knew all along?  We have long operated on the principle  that, for research skills to be meaningful, they must be connected to real purposes, and that librarians and faculty in the departments must work in collaboration to address the complexities of research.  But what are the best ways we can help students learn? How can we help students cope with the complexities of a hybrid print/electronic information environment? How can we work more effectively with faculty to make these skills a part of the curriculum? What are "best practices" among liberal arts colleges and what can other types of libraries learn from us?

June 1st, 2000

Faculty perspectives: what do students need in a complex and evolving research environment? Where do our concerns converge? Where do they differ? How can we learn from each other? Bruce Johnson of the Gustavus Economics and Management department reported that a major problem students appear to have in doing original market research reports is in integrating secondary information into their original field research. Linnea Wren of the Art History department described the difficulty students in her courses have in developing an original idea and frame it in an appropriate argument with supporing evidence. She also described the way the
consults individually with students to analyze the appropriateness of the web sites they find.

Tackling the Tough Stuff: small groups tackled common problems identified in advance of the Institute and came up with possible solutions. These were put on posters and shared with the entire group.

Fieldwork: librarians from each participating library presented an informal demonstrations of some aspect of their instruction program.

June 2nd, 2000

Sharing our Toolkits: small groups discussed ways to promote active learning in the library and came up with a list of options to share.

General principles:

Emphasize with students the personal goals of a liberal arts education.

Remember that the ultimate teachable moments often happen at the reference desk, when the student has a real need and wants to address it.

Put students in the "driver's seat"-for example, make sure they come when they've already selected topics so the session is focused on their needs, not on general principles.

Humor is useful!

Library sessions must be related to an assignment.

Recognize in working with faculty that teaching broadens, scholarship narrows.

Avoid the trap of assuming that we know where people are at; use "anti-jargon" techniques.

Involve the faculty if possible during the session.

Create web pages as active tools for classes.

Format must follow function in the design of web pages.

Learn courseware and take advantage of training/staff development opportunities offered by your IT department.

Always bear in mind the opportunities for collaboration with IT.

Put everyone in the front row.

Preparation before the session:

Ask students before the class to send a paragraph about previous experience with libraries and the internet. Use the time with them to respond to their concerns and questions.

Make a brief appearance to the class before the BI session and give an assignment that helps students focus their topics. Students might turn these in for points when they attend the library session.

Managing the class effectively:

Make the students move around early in the class-go to the shelves, explore tools, visit the reference section or other area-and at the end of the session process what they found.

Change the energy in the classroom as needed by getting them out of their seats or rearranging the physical arrangement of the room in mid-course.

Have students work together on tasks so there can be peer learning and interaction.

Hands-on work works! Give students work to do during the period and ask them to report back to the class. Use the time that they are working for the librarian and instructor to answer individual questions.

Do hands-on sessions with more than one librarian in the room so there can be more one-on-one interaction with each student.

Techniques to use while teaching:

Make mistakes in demonstration-planned or otherwise.

Ask students to shout out their topics and do on-the-spot searches.

Go with the class to the stacks that are relevant to the topic or discipline under discussion. They appreciate having a geographic sense of the library and will interact with the books.

Give students in-class exercises to walk them through the process of using the tools they will need even if they aren't ready yet to use them for their own topics.

Spend time discussing terms involved in a research project-the language in use-and about who cares about this topic.

Provide students citations to reference books with call numbers. Have them find the book in the reference stacks, then take the same call number into the general collection so they will realize that call numbers work for browsing and learn where things are in two collections.

Critical thinking activities:

Have a clickoff: divide the class in two and have them search for the same topic in Yahoo and in Lexis/Nexis or other subscription source. Have them summarize their results; discuss the differences to see how one might make a choice of approach.

Have students examine a popular press article and trace it back to the scholarly literature on which it was based.

Use an archives database that will let students explore the way an item has entered the collection, relating the item to its source and understanding how a database can locate an item in a wider context.

Use special collections to let students have the tactile and aesthetic experience of books as cultural artifacts rather than packets of data. Special collections may also allow students to examine early editions of an important work, giving them a sense of time and change.

Provide the first page of 3-4 articles on the topic of the assignment chosen to represent different kinds of sources. Ask small groups to decide which of the articles might be a good source for the assignment and why. In the processing afterwards the librarian and teacher may point out how they assess quality in a source, discern scholarly v. popular publications, etc.

Suggestions for faculty:

Have students repeat a process so they can learn it well. Do a task once in a formal session, then have them go through the same process three times using different materials or questions.

Build stratified assignments that allow for moving through the process, practicing each part and providing useful feedback to students throughout. Return to the library after an introductory session to give students time to work with librarians as their questions change.

Applying our knowledge: groups worked on case studies, arriving at instruction plans for classes that presented a variety of difficulties. The groups then shared approaches and strategies.

What can we do in fifty minutes? Using the new Standards for Information Literacy in Higher Education, we discussed which of the goals laid out in the standards could be approached using the standard course-related instruction model and which needed to be addressed throughout the curriculum.

Thinking campus-wide:  Beginning with an overview of the Institute for Information Literacy's "Best Practices" project,the final discussion addressed the wider issues of situating a program on campus to grow beyond tradition bibliographic instruction. What are the necessary ingredients for a successful program? Who are our allies?  How can we collaborate more effectively?  What are the "best practices" for a liberal arts college in response to the Information Literacy movement?

In order to share our ideas and tackle issues presented by difficult class assignments, groups worked on planning library sessions. Groups were given an assignment with some supporting information about the course and the instructor's expectations and planned a class, including resources, approaches, and active learning strategies.. Each case involved a variety of problems typically encountered in library instruction. Solutions were shared at the end of the exercise. These case studies were based on sessions taught previously at Gustavus Adolphus College.


First Term Seminar-On Beyond Doritos

The purpose of the First Term Seminar is to introduce students to college-level reading, writing and reasoning as well as to create a small community for acculturation into the college. Courses usually include some introduction to the library, though it is not required and what is covered is not standard though it almost always introduces students to the catalog, an article database, and using the reference collection. This seminar focuses on food. Students coming to the library are working in groups and will prepare both a preshentation and a written paper on a topic of their choice. The students coming for the library session have not yet selected a topic. Most of these students will be totally unfamiliar with the library. There are sixteen students in the course.

The assignment asks students to prepare a group presentation for class on some aspect of food in American culture; the same topic will be used to develop written papers.

Among the issues to be addressed: what baseline skills need to be included in an introductory course? How can those general skills be effectively addressed in terms of a highly specific assignment? What resources will be appropriate for a non-traditional topic?

Art 265-Art before Cortés

This pre-Columbian art course is an intermediate level course that carries general education (non-Western cultures) credit. Many of the students enrolled in this course have taken some art history courses, but there are no prerequisites and several of the students have no art background. The instructor provides a list of recommended readings, but students will need more resources than those she has provided. Because of the nature of the assignment, the resources they need will be interdisciplinary: art history, Latin American studies, anthropology, archaeology, etc. There are twenty students enrolled. The level of experience in doing research varies widely. Some are novices, but others have written several complex papers and have been involved in art history library sessions in the past.

The assignment asks students to choose an object from a catalog of artifacts found in a sacred well in Chichen Itza, Mexico. They must come up with a theory of why the object was placed in the well, where it came from, and what its significance is. The original theory must be supported by secondary and primary source evidence.

Among the issues to be tackled: how can students learn about finding information in such a way that they don't mistake the search for sources for the purpose of the assignment--which is to come up with an original idea. How can students learn in a short period of time the wide number of skills they will need for this sophisticated task? How can one address a class that includes students with widely differing backgrounds?

Nursing 350-Family Health

This course emphasizes the health of families and communities. As part of the course, groups of students will prepare a community assessment that will analyze the features of the community, discuss at-risk populations and propose interventions. The communities they examine are likely to be local and fairly small, many of them rural. They must locate and use demographic and social data that describes their community.

The assignment asks students to create a detailed community profile, collecting and analyzing data on social conditions that affect health in the various population groups served.

Among the issues to be addressed: how to locate statistical data from government sources, how to decide which data are important, how to relate information available to a small community, one that may not be specifically listed in demographic compilations, and how to relate abstract information to practical applications in public health.

Political Science 130-International Relations

This is an introductory level course that enrolls a mixed group of students but includes a large number of first year students. For many of them, this session will be their first introduction to the library. The session is scheduled in the second week of classes and the teacher wants to use this time to familiarize the class with a wide number of resources, including Lexis/Nexis and government documents. In addition to an introduction to International Relations generally, students will write a major paper, for many students the most challenging research task they've ever faced. Most are not well-grounded in foreign affairs at the start of the semester.

The assignment asks students will analyze a conflict between two countries that are not major powers that happened during the cold war and is still unresolved. They will need to consider U.S. and Soviet attitudes in their paper and must use primary source materials. Students will work on this assignment throughout the semester and sections of the paper are due on different dates. Their first task is to identify three conflicts that might be used as a topic and that is due at the end of the week. Most of the students have no topics in mind at the time of the session. There are thirty-five students in the class.

Among the issues this case presents: how can novice researchers be introduced to a wide variety of sources so early in their college experience? How can a session taught at the beginning of the semester provide enough help to sustain the students' work through the rest of the semester? How can students focused on the task of chosing a topic be prepared for the complex search they'll need to pursue once they have a topic?

Communication Studies 399-Senior Seminar: Researching Lived Experience

This course introduces students to qualitative communication research methods by posing questions, analyzing assumptions, and relating research findings to our everyday lives. It is essentially a methods course that focuses on human sciences qualitative research methods. Students will practice qualitative research by conducting research projects using unstructured interviews, lived-experience descriptions, and/or participant observation. The focus is on fieldwork and description, but students must include a literature review that pulls together relevant research in whatever field seems appropriate.

The assignment asks students to practice qualitative research methods by conducting fieldwork on some aspect of everyday life experience. Students working in groups will choose a topic--usually one quite open-ended such as "responsibility" or " " and will use the techniques studied in the course to gather primary data. They are expected to ground their work in a literature review that situates their findings in other published literature.

Among the issues this case provides: how can we help students connect fieldwork to library-based research? How can we help them learn to find relevant information for topics that are highly original and interdisciplinary? How can they learn to seek out and recognize research that utilizes a particular methodology that they are just learning to use themselves?

Second Workshop for Librarians

Learning to think critically and indepedently is the purpose of a liberal arts education. Our libraries play a key role in support of that mission. But how can we be sure that our efforts are successful? Are there ways we can find out what our students know and where they have difficulties? Can we use what we find out to retool our instructional programs?

That brings us to the A-word: assessment. The North Central Accreditation asks our institutions to develop a "culture of evidence." Often, the assessment movement seems to focus on building a defense of our effectiveness-we gather data to prove that we are doing our jobs.  The burden of proof is on us. And often, that becomes merely a burden.

Can we use the tools of assessment to create instead a culture of curiosity? Are there things we can do that will help the library become a more effective part of teaching and learning? During this two-day institute, librarians from regional liberal arts colleges will explore how to design assessment tools, how to handle the information we gather, and how to use it to improve our instructional programs.

May 30th, 2001

The Role of Assessment in Higher Education
Mike Miller, Chair of the Gustavus Department of Education and Eric Eliason, English Department Chair discuss the issues facing Gustavus as we prepare for an accreditation visit. What are the issues surrounding assessment? What are the benefits and pitfalls? What do we gain through self study?

Engaging Questions
Using a "carousel" activity, participants will address several sticky issues related to assessing student learning outcomes from a library perspective.

Designing Assessments and Outcomes for your Library
Small groups will brainstorm intended student outcomes, then match assessment methods to selected outcomes.

Reports from the  Front: News on Grants and Programs from Participating Libraries
Hear about ways participating libraries are building assessment of student learning into faculty development and information literacy programs.

May 31st, 2001

Collecting and Interpreting Assessment Data
A workshop with Bruce Johnson, Co-Chair of the Gustavus Economics and Management department, on what to do with all the data you gather.

Designing Practical Assessment Tools

Recommended Reading on Assessment

American Association for Higher Education. Assessment Forum: 9 Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning. (17 September 2001).

Hardesty, Larry. "Academic Libraries and Regional Accreditation." Library Issues: Briefings for Faculty and Administrators. 21.4 (March 2001). (17 September 2001).

Lindauer, Bonnie Gratch. "Defining and Measuring the Library's Impact on Campuswide Outcomes. College and Research Libraries 59.6 (November 1998): 546-570.

Pausch, Lois M. and Mary Pagliero Popp. "Assessment of Information Literacy: Lessons from the Higher Education Assessment Movement." Choosing Our Futures: ACRL 1997 National Conference Papers. September 2001).

Pritchard, Sarah M. "Determining Quality in Academic Libraries." Library Trends 44.3 (Winter 1996): 572-594.

Ralph A. Wolff. "Using the Accreditation Process to Transform the Mission of the Library." New Directions for Higher Education 90 (Summer 1995): 77-91.

Ray, Kathlin L. "The Postmodern Library in an Age of Assessment." ACRL X: Crossing the Divide March 15-18, 2001 (17 September 2001).
Librarians will draw on material presented thus far to focus on one outcome and assessment in detail.

Libraries Present Action Plans
Each library will discuss their next steps in assessing student learning at their library.

What's Next for This Group?
Have these gatherings been useful? Do we want to find new ways to connect?

Final Report, December 2001

We have just completed the second year of our two-year grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. This report will summarize what we did, what we learned in the process, how we have disseminated that knowledge, and what we plan to do next.

Our project had three parts: outreach to librarians in similar colleges in the region, development programs for our faculty, and a research and assessment agenda. It is safe to say the first two parts of the project were a resounding success, one that we hope to build on. The third part is a work still in progress but is off to a good start. Certainly, we have found a number of ways, formal and informal, to share what we have learned. We hope other institutions will learn from us and will be able use ideas from our project to help them develop their own programs.

Summer Institutes for Librarians

We held two intensive workshops for librarians from liberal arts colleges in the area. These Summer Institutes spanned two days and provided opportunities to share ideas, work on common issues, and generate solutions. The emphasis for both Institutes was on combining theory and practice. Participants were sent pre-reading materials in advance and were asked to prepare informal presentations. The setting-with lodging for participants provided on our campus at a guest house and retreat center-gave participants a chance to interact informally throughout the Institutes. We also had evening gatherings for wine and cheese and poetry readings by poets affiliated with our campus, which added a cultural dimension that participants appreciated.

First Institute: Teaching and Learning

The first Institute focused on teaching and learning and involved participants in a busy schedule of group activities, including discussion of active learning strategies, working through case studies on how to tackle difficult classes, and sharing ideas from our programs. We opened with a panel of Gustavus faculty who were selected to participate in the IMLS-funded faculty development program who discussed problems their students encounter as they do research and how they address those problems. We intentionally started with this panel in order to emphasize collaboration with faculty across the disciplines-and to give our faculty a greater sense of involvement in the entire grant project. We ended the first summer workshop with a discussion of two national information literacy efforts-reviewing the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (adopted by the Association of College and Research Libraries in January 2000) and the Best Practices project under development by the Institute of Information Literacy. This conclusion was intended to expand our horizons to the national scene.

Second Institute: Assessing Learning Outcomes in the Library

The second Institute centered on assessment-specifically, how libraries can design assessment programs that focus on student learning outcomes. This topic was chosen in part because the new Standards for College Libraries (adopted by the ACRL in January 2000) embrace a new perspective on planning and assessment, one firmly focused on the learning process. Good assessment practices lead to better teaching, and teaching and learning is central to the mission of our libraries, yet until recently, most library assessment was limited to input measures-how many books were on the shelves, how much money was spent on journals, and the like. It seemed to us that this shift in attention to learning outcomes is a healthy development, but one that requires a good deal of retooling on the part of libraries.

The second Institute opened with a presentation by two Gustavus faculty who are involved in preparing the campus for an accreditation visit in 2003. (All of the colleges represented at this institute are accredited by the North Central Association.) The presentations gave us a good handle on changing assumptions underlying accreditation processes today and how academic libraries might approach assessing its role in student learning outcomes. Other parts of the program involved a workshop on designing quantitative measures conducted by a faculty member involved in our faculty development program, matching outcomes with assessment measures, designing specific assessment tools, and deciding on institutional action plans to implement after the Institute. We finished by discussing how we might continue working together after the IMLS funding period was over. There was a strong desire expressed by participants to have similar gatherings in the future.


In fact, the responses to both Institutes were overwhelmingly positive. Participants felt they provided a good mix of practical and theoretical material, that they offered a stimulating venue for networking and problem-solving, and were (according to some) more useful than most library conferences when it came time to bring ideas home and put them into practice because our Institutes allowed for hands-on work on a single focus. Participants from all of the colleges involved-expanded from the original five colleges to include seven by the second Institute, thanks to strong lobbying by interested institutions-suggested that we continue holding similar Institutes in future, with costs to be covered by their institutional budgets. Though we have not yet made firm plans to do so, we felt that was a strong endorsement of the program and we may well sponsor future Institutes on our campus to continue the stimulating conversation.

One of the benefits of these Institutes was to reinvigorate our own Gustavus librarians in preparation for the intensive work we would be doing during the week-long summer workshops for faculty. Before-and-after reflections written by our librarians indicated that this was, indeed, a positive effect of both Institutes. Continuing these events would be an excellent means of providing continuing professional development to carry on the collaboration with faculty on our campus.

Summer Workshops for Faculty

The second piece of our program centered on developing a cadre of faculty interested in embedding research skills and processes more intentionally into their courses. We held two week-long summer workshops, inviting faculty to apply well in advance and selecting participants based on the quality of their applications and with an eye toward including faculty from across the curriculum and teaching at different levels, from first year to senior courses. Though it wasn't intentional, the group included a nice mix of new to senior faculty. The first summer workshop involved fourteen faculty and the second seventeen. Across the two summers, we also were able to create a "core" of involved faculty in several departments, particularly in history, English, communication studies, religion, and biology.

Design of the Workshops

Those faculty selected to participate were sent a packet of readings in advance, geared to the five workshop days. Each faculty member focused on designing or redesigning a course to embed research into it as a developmental process. The sessions covered understanding student problems, developing resources (print and electronic) for the courses under development, teaching students how to evaluate sources, creating good research assignments, sequencing activities to develop research skills, and assessing student learning. Each week ended with a discussion of wider issues. At the end of the first workshop, we discussed the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. At the end of the second, we discussed what role research played in the curriculum.

For both workshops, we invited speakers to contribute to the program. Tom Mann of the Library of Congress was very well received by participants in the first workshop. (Interestingly, a student who attended his presentation noted it two years later in a senior survey as an event that she found important in her development as a researcher.) For the second workshop we invited Bill DeJohn, Director of the MINTEX Library Information Network; he relayed afterward that it was particularly helpful for him to spend time discussing research with faculty in the disciplines, something he rarely has an opportunity to do. We also invited writing program directors from Willamette University and Carleton College to lead discussions on designing effective assignments and had faculty from our own campus present methods of sequencing assignments and assessment.


The faculty involved in these workshops gave the experience high marks. We were most encouraged by the enthusiastic participation during each intensive week and by the evaluations they completed at the end. We have continued the discussion through a e-mail list and by means of occasional informal get-togethers. Two brown-bag lunch discussions, part of a faculty development series, were led by faculty participating in the workshops discussing how they embedded research into their courses. (These, incidentally, were organized by a participant independently of the project directors for this grant-evidence that faculty feel strong ownership of this project.) The last event funded by the grant was to invite faculty participants to bring a guest to a luncheon discussion of student research. This was an attempt to open up the discussion beyond those that participated. We also used it as a chance to assess the impact of the project campus-wide. We had heard, through earlier evaluations and reporting, that most, if not all, of the faculty ended up redesigning more than one course to include more research skills as an integral part of the syllabus. We were particularly interested to learn if there had been a wider effect on their departments and programs.

Though this appears to vary from one department to another, most faculty reported that their departments are having more discussion of how research should be taught in their curricula, spurred on by this project. In some departments, these discussions are formal and frequent. In others, it tends to be "in the halls and offices" as one faculty member said-not part of a formal meeting, but nevertheless being discussed and resulting in curricular change. The Biology department, for example, has developed segments of four core courses that each focuses on developing a different research-related skill. A faculty member reported that this made it possible for her to draw on and integrate all of those skills successfully in a higher level course. In the English department-which has little sequence in its curriculum, discussions are under way to develop a more effective senior capstone research experience. The fact that five of their faculty have been through our program gives them some common conceptual foundations to draw on for these discussions.

Interestingly, a review of data being gathered routinely by departments as part of ongoing assessment of academic programs suggest the academic departments place a high value on student research experiences as a key part of the curriculum; it also reveals that students and alumni report these experiences are a significant part of their education and contribute to life-long learning. Clearly, this is fruitful common ground on which to build even stronger library-faculty collaboration.

The library's traditional course-related instructional program has witnessed significant growth in the past two years, thanks largely to the intensive interactions with faculty afforded by the grant and the higher profile it has given the library and its instructional role. Last year, we taught a historic number of course-related instructional sessions in the library, and while the statistics for this year are incomplete, it appears we will top that number. One interesting effect of the workshops has been that faculty often schedule multiple sessions in the library, where one fifty-minute introductory session was the norm before. This reflects our belief that research is recursive and research skills must be developed over time.

Research and Assessment

The third part of our IMLS project involves assessing the impact of these activities on student learning and conducting further inquiry into how students learn research skills effectively. From what we can tell so far through before-and-after reflections, submitted before-and-after course materials, and interviews with faculty participants, many courses have undergone significant change as a result of the workshops. These include developing research skills through multiple assignments that build on one another developmentally, more attention being paid to the research process during assignment design and assessment, more sensitivity to student perspectives on research, and the development of assignments other than traditional papers that engage students in research. We hope to continue sharing ideas and teaching methods among faculty through formal and informal faculty development programs and documentation of effective practices on our Web site.

Two research projects are currently under way. One is the development of a rubric for assessing how well students understand various aspects of research based on their finished products. The idea is to look for evidence students understand not only how to find information, but how to put it to use effectively. Once developed and tested, this rubric may be used by libraries as a tool for assessing student learning as it relates to the library's goals. The second project is to replicate a study of student research processes conducted more than ten years ago and published in the Journal of Academic Librarianship to see how processes have changed and adapted to include the use of electronic resources. So far preliminary literature reviews have been conducted and research designs have been tested for both projects. A small grant has been obtained to pay student subjects for the second project. Both should be concluded within a year.

In addition to these projects, we hope to encourage participating faculty to share their ideas and experiences through publication. We have created a Web site that lists higher education journals that publish articles on pedagogy with links to instructions for authors. This has been shared on the BI-L discussion list and additional suggestions proposed by the list members will be added. This will be accessible both from the library's Web page and through the Web page of our Faculty Development program.


We have found many opportunities to share what we have learned though this project, and intend to continue the dialog. On campus, the project has been disseminated through connections to the Faculty Development program and by means of on-campus events such as a panel discussion of student research and brown bag lunches. We have also discovered that some departments have used the summer workshops as a springboard for departmental reflection on how research can be embedded in the curriculum.

Beyond our campus, we've found the affiliation of librarians from the seven liberal arts colleges involved in our Summer Institutes to be a fruitful community for sharing ideas and developing our programs through collaboration with similar libraries. We also described the program at an annual meeting of the Oberlin Group, an informal network of seventy-four liberal arts college library directors.

We have been able to formally disseminate our project's plan and results through conference papers, workshops, and publications. These are detailed in Appendix B of this report.

We also have put material on a Web site for the use of project participants and to share with the wider community. The URL has been shared through the BI-L discussion list and is listed at the Institute for Information Literacy's Web site as a selected case study. Additionally, what we learned through the project was helpful as Barbara Fister consulted with Diana Hacker and editors from Bedford/St. Martin's about revisions to several of their popular writing handbooks. The Bedford Handbook (6th edition, 20001), Research and Documentation in an Electronic Age (2nd edition, forthcoming) and A Writer's Reference (5th ed, forthcoming) have all had their research sections reviewed and revisions suggested based in part on what we learned through the IMLS project.

Next Steps

We were pleased by the enthusiastic response our programs received and are convinced there is momentum to continue developing collaborations started during this project. We have had the Librarians' Institute endorsed as an event the participating institutions would like to continue, even without grant funding. We will be in touch with those libraries to see what topics might be good ones for future events. We may want to involve faculty in the disciplines in a future institute along the model of the celebrated Earlham conferences of the past, providing a venue for faculty to develop connections among our campuses as well as the librarians. Another possible focus would be to hold an institute for librarians and writing program directors from our schools, with discussion of common issues and break-out sessions.

It is also clear to us that there is a great deal of interest among our faculty for additional opportunities for faculty development programs along the lines of our summer workshops. In fact, a number of faculty were disappointed to learn it wasn't going to be an annual event. We have two follow-up programs planned in the coming months and hope to add more as time goes on.

  • In January 2002, librarians will conduct a half-day workshop for faculty on plagiarism-how to detect it, how to help students understand the issues surrounding the ethical use of intellectual property, and how to create assignments that cannot be plagiarized. We are involving individuals from the Writing Program and the Advising Center in this effort as well as "graduates" of our summer workshops. We think this will be a chance to draw on a common concern to discuss wider issues related to student learning. We will also maintain a Web site on plagiarism developed for this event.
  • In June we have been invited to present a day-long session on introducing students to research as part of a three-day seminar to train faculty for our First Term Seminar program. The faculty member who organizes this training program attended our IMLS-funded faculty workshop and thought much of the material would be useful to First Term Seminar instructors so is willing to devote a significant amount of time to this part of the training.

Other faculty development ideas that we are considering include:

  • Conducting focused workshops for departments or divisions to develop ways of embedding research processes into their curriculum. There is, for example, particular interest among the science departments in involving students in research. Though only two science faculty participated in the summer workshops, an external review of our library's science collections has led to some fruitful discussions with the science departments that includes how to give their students a better grasp of scientific literature. This may be an opportune moment to build on those discussions.
  • Pulling out pieces of the week-long workshop that hold particular interest-evaluation of Web sites was one faculty suggestion-and developing a series of half-day workshops for those topics.
  • Finding ways to support and celebrate student research projects across campus. The new Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Gustavus is interested in making a greater cross-curricular effort in this arena. The Office of Institutional Research has also expressed an interest in mounting on the college Web site a database of student research projects that the library has maintained for several years. Providing models of research done by their peers may help make our students more aware of what they are capable of doing.
  • Piggy-backing on other initiatives to focus on developmental research skills. For example, the campus has a faculty development grant from the Bush Foundation that could provide funds for programming; there may be fruitful ways to help programs use their assessment processes leading up to an accreditation visit to develop ways of assessing and documenting the research components of their curricula; there may be opportunities to join with the Writing Program to provide more programming on research writing as a part of our Writing-Across-the-Curriculum efforts.

In the area of assessment and evaluation, we will be working on research started during the IMLS grant project and anticipate at least two articles to come out of these initiatives. We will be reworking our Web site to make it easier for visitors to find information about the project if they want to use it as a model for their institution. We will also be developing additional pages to highlight assignments and other materials developed by our faculty to develop effective research skills among our students. And as Gustavus prepares for an upcoming accreditation visit from the North Central Association, we will be applying what we have learned about student learning outcomes in evaluating our library's instructional program and what it contributes to student learning. Given the new stress on assessing student learning outcomes apparent in accreditation guidelines and in the new Standards for College Libraries, we may well be at the forefront of developing a model assessment program for academic libraries.


The library at Gustavus has had a strong instructional program for decades. A former library director described it as a "teaching library" in the early sixties, well before the concept of bibliographic instruction was well established. But in spite of our best intentions, we were not satisfied with what we were able to accomplish. Like other libraries, we were struggling to transform our program from an Earlham-model of course-related bibliographic instruction to a more holistic focus on information literacy involving faculty across the curriculum. The funding from the IMLS has been immensely useful to us in this process. We have been able to tie in the goals we had with this program with other campus and library initiatives. We expect the strong ties developed with faculty on our campus and among librarians in the region to continue and grow and hope this experience will fuel research and publication on the part of those involved. And finally, we have found high interest among other libraries in emulating what we've been able to accomplish here, making us hopeful this experience truly is providing a national model.

Appendix A: Colleges, Programs, and Courses Involved

Liberal Arts College Libraries involved in summer institutes

Augustana College (Rock Island, IL)
Carleton College (Northfield, MN)
College of St. Benedict and St. John's University (Collegeville, MN)
Concordia College (Morehead, MN)
Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, MN)
Macalester College (St. Paul, MN)
St. Olaf College (Northfield, MN)

Department involvement in the summer workshops for faculty

Art and Art History (2 faculty)
Biology (2 faculty)
Communication Studies (3 faculty)
Economics and Management (2 faculty)
English (5 faculty; two of the redesigned courses were for Peace Studies and Environmental Studies programs)
Geography (1 faculty)
Health and Exercise Science (1 faculty)
History (4 faculty)
Interdisciplinary Studies (1 faculty)
Modern Foreign Languages (1 faculty; the course she redesigned is also part of the Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies program)
Music (1 faculty)
Nursing (2 faculty)
Political Science (1 faculty; the course he designed is cross listed with Environmental Studies)
Religion (3 faculty)
Scandinavian Studies (1 faculty)
Theatre/Dance (1 faculty)

Two thirds of Gustavus departments had faculty participate. We were able to achieve a balance of introductory, intermediate, and advanced course levels. We also-without consciously seeking it-had an interesting balance of new faculty and senior faculty.

Courses redesigned in response to the faculty workshops

American Environmental History
American Literature, I and II
Art Before Cortes
Creation and Genesis
Critical Thinking and Argument
Economic Development and World Resources
England, 1399-1688
Environmental Politics
Ethics and Medicine
Family Health
First Term Seminar: Ethnic Conflict in Europe-the Yugoslav Case
First Term Seminar: How Did I Get Here?
First Term Seminar: Scandinavia and the New Europe
First Term Seminar: The Power of Music
Freshwater Biology
History Seminar: Thinking Historically
Indigenous People Globally
Introduction to Peace Studies
Market Research
Medieval England
Nursing in Complex Systems
Paul: His Interpreters, His Critics
Plant Physiology
Public Speaking
Researching Lived Experience
Revolutionary America
Seminar in Health Education
Senior Seminar: W.B. Yeats
Spanish-American Culture
Studies in World Theatre, I and II
Sub-Saharan Africa
Twentieth-Century Art and Architecture
The Victorian Age
Women in the United States: Private Lives, Public Lives

In addition to these courses, faculty reported after the workshops that they were redesigning additional courses, including Art of Interpretation, Medieval Art, a course for Health Education majors on Technology, Teaching and Learning, International Relations, several introductory and intermediate Biology courses, a number of advanced Communication Studies courses, and First Term Seminars. Some faculty simply reported they were changing all of their courses as a result of the workshop.

Appendix B: Formal Dissemination

"Reintroducing Students to Good Research." Keynote address presented by Barbara Fister to the faculty of Lake Forest College, November 7, 2001. This address described the assumptions underlying our IMLS project and provided examples of creative research assignments developed by Gustavus faculty involved in the summer workshops.

"Information Literacy Pilot Project," Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota. Workshop presented by Barbara Fister and Molly Pederson for Concordia faculty on information literacy standards and assessment, May 2001. This workshop was designed to familiarize faculty across the disciplines with the concepts of information literacy, promote the design of effective assignments for developing research skills, and include information literacy in assessment of programs.

"From BI to IL: The Paths of Two Liberal Arts Colleges" coauthored with Elizabeth O. Hutchins and Kris Huber MacPherson. A contributed paper, presented at the ACRL National Conference in March 2001, published in Crossing the Divide: Proceedings of the Tenth National Conference of the Association of College and Research Libraries. Ed. Hugh Thompson. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2001, 203-212. This paper lays out two approaches to developing information literacy programs through stronger collaboration with faculty and outlines the project supported by the IMLS. An article based on this paper will be published this spring in the Journal of Library Administration in a special issue devoted to information literacy programs. This issue of the journal will simultaneously be published as a monograph by Haworth Press .

"Information Literacy: Connecting Standards and Objectives to Programs and Curriculum: Case Studies of Early Implementers." Panel presentation at the Association of College and Research Libraries National Conference, March 2001. As a panelist, Barbara Fister described the IMLS project and discussed responses of Gustavus faculty to the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education .

Suggestions for Assignments

Interpretive Assignments Concepts Skills

Letters or diaries: have students examine texts written by a figure discussed in class, generate questions from those primary sources, and prepare an annotated version of the text that answers or provides speculation on aspects of the text that are unclear. This could be a group project, with a set of letters or diary entries distributed among the class.


provides experience with primary sources; develops the habit of raising and pursuing questions; requires speculation based on evidence; situating texts in a historical context. identifying key components of a question; locating information using the catalog and reference sources; documentation

Have the class examine a painting or other graphic image from a time period you are dealing with or which touches on a theme you are discussing in class. Brainstorm questions and theories about the image, then list information sources that might help address those questions. Have groups take a cluster of questions to the library for information-gathering and then pool interpretations.


practice examining images as texts; practice building theory and seeking evidence; provides example of way a community of scholars can build on each others' conversations to create knowledge. articulating questions and identifying potential information sources; using the catalog and reference sources

Political cartoons as text: using the Bassett collection of political cartoons (one of the Gustavus library's special collections) have students locate a cartoon on a political event relevant to the course and put it in historical context, explaining its referents and meaning. This could be the basis of a class-designed library display; could also include interaction with the cartoonist.


develops the habit of querying texts of all sorts; develops notion that interpretation and making connections is not just an academic pursuit; situating texts in a social/historical context. identifying visual cues; locating information using the catalog and reference sources; summarizing information concisely for a general audience; designing and conducting an interview
Synthesis Assignments  Concepts  Skills
Have the class develop a collaborative lecture: rather than present material in lecture form, have students gather information and during class compile it. (Works best with topics that have a natural organizing principle such as chronology in order to process the information brought to class.)

develops the notion that understanding is built from making connections and synthesizing data; emphasizes the notion that various sources provide different kinds of information that might be contradictory; understanding that information may be organized in different ways for different results; provides example of way a community of scholars can build on each others' conversations to create knowledge.


skimming and extracting information; sorting information into a meaningful pattern; finding information using the catalog, reference sources, and perhaps articles
Have the class develop a snapshot of a year that is significant for your course. Starting with a chronology (such as Timetables of History) have groups report on politics, the arts, science and technology, or whatever categories make sense for your course.  develops an understanding of interdisciplinary connections and chronology; involves making choices about what events are significant. skimming and extracting information; locating information using the catalog and reference sources
Exploring Discourses  Concepts  Skills

Have the class prepare an interview-either one to be actually carried out or one that they can't because the subject is long dead or otherwise unavailable. To generate useful questions they would have to become familiar with the person's life and work and understand its significance. They could either write up results of a real interview or write their own imaginary responses based on available evidence.


develops the notion that fieldwork requires preparation; requires paying attention to the wording of questions. using catalog, reference sources, and articles for biographical/critical information; 

Have the class generate a list of "key words" which are important concepts for the course. Have them locate uses of these key words in a variety of contexts and/or disciplines and write an analysis of the words' multiple meanings.


develops sensitivity to different disciplines and their discourses; introduces the ways in which the slipperiness of language can make searching tricky. using key word searching in a variety of databases, including the catalog, specialized databases, reference sources

Have students examine an editorial and discuss what evidence would need to be provided to turn it into an academic argument for a scholarly audience. Have the class locate and analyze evidence and write a response to the editorial based on their new knowledge.


practice recognizing claims that need support; understanding the difference between popular and scholarly writing; understanding the concept of evidence. identifying potential sources of evidence; planning a search; using the catalog, databases, and reference sources; writing from sources and documentation

Have students trace a "fact" from textbook to its original discovery and dissemination. Have them analyze the contemporary reception of the "fact"-was it challenged, debated, hailed, or reviled? Was it recognized as significant? Was it newsworthy enough to be covered by the popular press? (Requires careful groundwork to make sure it is workable and that the materials are available.) 


recognize that "facts" often start as claims; recognize that accepted wisdom is often built out of controversy; recognize that retrieval tools have chronological limitations; recognize that "facts" are named differently in different time periods. using the catalog, databases, print indexes for historical material; tracing information through citations

Provide the class with primary sources that recount an event that is open to more than one interpretation. Then have students locate and critique secondary source explanations of that event. Have students examine differences in secondary sources and relate these to their own interpretation of the available evidence. (Students are often surprised to find secondary sources tell the same story differently.)


understand the difference between primary and secondary sources; understand that secondary sources rely on interpretation of evidence; develop a healthy sense of skepticism using the catalog; interpreting citations (to help critique the use of evidence in the secondary source) 

Have students compile an anthology or reader of works on a theme or topic; have them write critical introductions to the selections they have chosen.


learn to select particular sources out of many; develop ability to relate pieces to a whole. using the catalog and/or databases; 

Have students study the ways different disciplines treat the same subject or the ways different audiences-e.g. popular v. scholarly-shape the presentation of information by locating and analyzing materials that approach the same topic from different directions.


recognize differences in discourse conventions; recognize the importance of audience in texts; learn to differentiate between popular and scholarly sources. using the catalog and specialized databases; adjusting search strategies for different databases.
Have the class generate a list of cutting edge issues in a field by having them survey the current literature and identify topic areas that are especially under debate.

recognize that current literature in the field clusters around areas of uncertainty and controversy; recognize that new knowledge often comes from asking interesting questions.


using databases; skimming and collating information; identifying patterns on the fly.
Have students explore different types of information sources by having them investigate the same topic in different formats: reference books, newspaper articles, scholarly journals, government documents, web sites. Have groups present their results, analyzing the uses of different information sources.

recognize that part of planning a search involves deciding where the information is likely to be found; recognize different information types and their uses; discover that there are different types of information and that they often require searching differently


using a wide variety of databases and search strategies; learning different parts of the library and its collections; develop different strategies for different types of information sources.
Have students examine an issue across time by looking at how it is treated currently and comparing it with treatment 25, 50, or 75 years ago. Analyze both the different approaches to the issue and the ways in which the issue was framed in ways that reflect the values and assumptions of the time. recognize that the language and the assumptions displayed in texts have historical context; recognize that older texts cannot generally be found using electronic databases; recognize that access tools themselves are a reflection of the context in which they were created using a wide variety of print and electronic resources; reformulating a search to reflect the indexing terms used by a tool or in a particular time period
Quick and Dirty  Concepts  Skills

Have students locate and critique reviews of a book considered important or a classic in the field (perhaps one in use as a course text) but which was controversial or slow to gain acceptance when first published.


demonstrates the notion that what is considered a classic may not always be considered so; illustrates that reception of new ideas can be varied and often, in hindsight, quite wrong using book review indexes or article databases; locating articles in print sources (particularly for older works).

Use a class period in the library generating a list of books and/or articles of interest to the class. Have students find a variety of sources on the topic and spend a class period "weeding" the selections, discussing markers of quality from a disciplinary perspective. Have each student use those markers to select one worthwhile article and write an annotation; compile the annotations for the class.


demonstrate that there are a variety of information sources that take different approaches to the same topic; recognize that finding good sources requires making good choices; recognize that quality is determined within disciplinary frameworks and traditions. using databases to find texts; choosing search terms; locating print and electronic texts; skimming; recognizing indicators of quality in sources; documenting sources and writing critical annotations.

Have students locate three sources-one an article published in a popular magazine, one an article in a refereed scholarly journal, one a web site-and have them analyze the sources in terms of language used, evidence presented for claims, qualifications of the author, and purpose. 


develops an understanding of the differences between scholarly texts and popular ones; develops a sensitivity to the rhetorical cues available in texts that can help in assessing their value. using different databases and search engines; documentation of different types of texts; practice identifying authority of sources; practice identifying text types.

Have students conduct a search on the same topic on the web and in an article database. Discuss the results of their search in terms of what kinds of sources they found and the likely quality of those sources. (It would be interesting to do two topics-one that yields poor results on the web and another that provides useful sources.)


illustrates the difference between the "free" web and subscription databases accessible through the web; demonstrates the different kinds of results obtained using different kinds of sources; recognize that there are certain kinds of questions that aren't best researched on the web.


using a web search engine and a database; choosing keywords that work and refining searches as needed; skimming and interpreting the results of a search; making critical assessments of sources based on citations.
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