Ask A Librarian

Information Literacy Initiative Begins Third Year

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 2nd, 2011

Five faculty members will each spend the summer working with a librarian to enhance course curriculum to help students improve their research skills and become more discerning when searching for information.

Their efforts are part of the Information Literacy Course Enhancement Program, a collaborative endeavor between the Libraries and the Provost’s Office. The initiative focuses on fulfilling the University’s 2020 Plan which calls for “engaging undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in a challenging academic environment.” Information literacy is the ability to find, evaluate, and effectively use information.

“During the first two years of the program, we have learned a great deal about designing and teaching discipline-specific lessons that address critical elements of the research process,” said Carroll Wilkinson, WVU Libraries’ Director of Instruction and Information Literacy. “I look forward to encouraging collaboration among participants in the third cohort.”

Selected from a field of applicants, this year’s group includes Corey Colyer, assistant professor of sociology, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences; Robin Hensel, Assistant Dean of the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources; Jason Langley, physical education lecturer, WVU Institute of Technology; Jay Malarcher, associate professor of theater, College of Creative Arts; and Scott Wible, assistant professor of English, Eberly College.

They will work with Wilkinson and their librarian liaison (Kelly Diamond, Beth Royall, Mary Strife, Alyssa Wright, and from WVU IT, Jewel Rucker) to create discipline-specific active learning assignments that incorporate information literacy concepts. They will each earn a $3,000 stipend or, if a 12-month faculty member, other relevant professional remuneration.

Expectations are for the faculty to begin teaching the revised courses during the Fall 2011 or Spring 2012 semester and to take part in the Information Literacy Showcase during the Libraries’ Faculty Assembly program in May 2012.

Participants in the program’s first year reported great success when they shared the results of their work during the 2010 showcase.

Gonzalo Bravo, an assistant professor in the School of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, partnered with librarian Barbara LaGodna to incorporate information literacy concepts into one of his courses.

He said the information literacy training helped his students to better organize their thoughts and ideas, thus contributing to a better comprehension of the course. It also helped them to better discriminate the quality of information and bibliographic sources that they use, and it made them more aware of unintentional plagiarism.

“Information literacy provides a series of tools that help students to build a better product, in this case a research paper,” Bravo said. “I think information literacy exercises and instruction should be part of every major course which includes a research or final paper.”

Tim Warner, a geology/geography professor, and science librarian Linda Blake went on to publish an article about how their classroom collaboration enhanced the academic environment for students.

Warner believes that the vast amount of information available online can often overwhelm students undertaking research projects, and he wants his students to develop the ability to find quality materials.

“It’s not like you can go to one or two places to find information and then you’re done,” Warner said. “There are so many different sources. They vary so much in reliability and quality, and they can be in obscure places. That’s how a professional librarian helps me.”

This year’s showcase will be held in the Milano Reading Room, Wise Library, on May 10 and include professor/librarian teams for the 2010-11 academic year. Poster sessions are scheduled from 8-9 a.m. and 11 a.m. to noon.

At 9 a.m. in Room 104, Downtown Campus Library, Mary Stansbury, Chair of the Department of Library and Information Science at the University of Denver, will deliver a talk titled “Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide.”

Participants for the 2010-11 academic year include Dr. Brian Ballentine, assistant professor of English, Eberly College; Dr. Louis McDonald, associate professor of plant and soil sciences, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design; Beth Nardella, instructor of exercise physiology, the Human Performance and Applied Exercise Science Department, School of Medicine; Dr. Melissa Olfert, assistant professor of human nutrition, Davis College; Dr. Kate Staples, assistant professor of history, Eberly College; and Dr. Barbara Douglas, senior lecturer, nursing, WVU IT.

Their librarian liaisons are Jessica Tapia, Noel Kopriva, Grace Gmeindl, Susan Arnold, Kevin Fredette, and, from WVU IT, Jewel Rucker.

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