We recently surveyed thousands of college students and hundreds of faculty to see what they thought about the state of information literacy skills in higher ed. Following the release of our extensive survey findings, we had the pleasure of hosting a lively and well-attended breakfast discussion. It was too good to keep to ourselves, so we’ve put together this series of blog posts to include you in the conversation!
What are the main obstacles to providing research skills instruction, and what advice do librarians have for overcoming these?
Many librarians identified the usual suspects when it came to obstacles: time, funding, and people who’ve always done things a certain way and aren’t open to change. The advice for overcoming these issues was grounded in using practical and demonstrable concepts to strategically shift perceptions at every level, from individual faculty members to administrators. Here are some of the best tips we heard:
- Start small and build: pick a department and build up a case study to illustrate the success that comes with research skills instruction. Have very specific learning outcomes that will serve as your proof as you reach out to other departments. This will help faculty see the value to them specifically, and will help administrators prioritize a program they can see making an impact.
- Shift focus toward faculty: By changing the focus of of research skills instruction from the students to the faculty (e.g. professional development requirements) professors can beef up their own information literacy skills and pass those down to their students. Issues cited ranged from faculty not knowing all of the databases and resources available at the library, to not knowing how to design assignments in ways that cultivate student research skills, to not having a full grasp of the technology available today. Credo’s recent survey showed that students are much more likely to go to their professor for help on an assignment than a librarian, classmate, or friend, so it makes sense to work to ensure that those professors are prepared to best answer those questions.
- See what works: Check out this example of how Cairn University used Credo’s Information Literacy Course Modules in one class and leveraged that toward their goal of a campus-wide research skills initiative!