ERIC Identifier: ED306960
Publication Date: 1988-12-00
Author: Ormondroyd, Joan
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Information Resources Syracuse NY.
Course Integrated Library Instruction. ERIC Digest.
After years of concentrating on graduate programs and research projects,
colleges and universities across the country are beginning to respond to public
concerns about the quality of undergraduate education by reinstating foreign
language requirements and core programs in the liberal arts (see issues of the
CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION and FOREIGN LANGUAGE ANNALS).
It is not surprising that librarians are also becoming more concerned with
the quality and depth of the instructional programs they are offering students.
Traditional programs have included workbooks and credit courses (most often
general in scope and not subject related) or course-related, single-session
lectures where the content of the library session is related to the subject
matter of the course, but where there is generally no further contact with the
course until the next semester when the same 50-minute session is presented once
more. We are now beginning to see a trend, if not away from these forms of
bibliographic instruction, then at least in a direction complementary to them.
More and more librarians are finding ways to integrate library instruction into
existing courses in a manner that makes library resources and the methodology
for finding them an essential and basic component of the course.
As early as 1979 Guskin, Stoffle, and Boise (1979) were advocating a larger
teaching role for librarians and suggesting that the direction bibliographic
instruction would take into the 1980s would be toward the integration of library
instruction into the academic curriculum. In 1983, Constance Mellon wrote that
such total integration was indeed desirable, but would be difficult to achieve
since, "faculty do not view librarianship as an intellectual discipline
equivalent to their own. [They] feel that the existing course-related library
instruction is sufficient to meet student needs" (Mellon, 1983).
I would like to suggest that the
work done by bibliographic instruction librarians over the past 15 years has
changed, at least to some extent, the negative image of librarians held by some
faculty, and has paved the way for the kind of integrated instruction that is
occurring in some academic institutions today. In addition, the advent of
database searching, CD ROM players, and online catalogs has caused faculty to
turn to librarians for help in greater numbers than ever before. As a result of
these factors (and perhaps others as well), faculty are beginning to recognize
the expertise of reference librarians and to acknowledge the desirability of
working with them as equals. For an instructional program to be truly
integrated, such recognition and acknowledgement are essential; we know from
long experience that, unless the instructor of a given course cooperates fully
with the librarian, any instruction on library use given in that course remains
peripheral to it.
Course-integrated library instruction requires that the librarian and the
instructor work together closely in planning research assignments and in
introducing students to the library. It requires that the research expertise of
the librarian be recognized as an important component in completing course
assignments. It also requires that the librarian thoroughly understand the goals
of the course and that he/she have a basic knowledge of the subject matter. The
librarian and the instructor become working partners in preparing the assignment
and in working it through with the students. It may also require that the
librarian be involved in the evaluation and grading of the papers for the
STEPS TO TAKE
Course-integrated instruction generally grows
out of course-related instruction and develops in those classes where an ongoing
relationship has already been established. When the librarian feels comfortable
with a course and its instructor, but also feels frustration about the lack of
follow-through and depth in the library component of the course, it is his/her
responsibility to promote the enhancements that integration can provide.
Librarians must not be shy about inviting instructors to talk about these
enhancements and the value they can have for the course.
Thought must be given to the kinds of assignments that will be appropriate
for the class being taught, but which will also bring students into the library
and cause them to use the library's resources in their discipline. Critical,
annotated bibliographies are probably the most popular choice, but instructors
may be reluctant to follow through with the term paper that should be the
outgrowth of such an assignment. Depending on the subject matter of the course,
other in-depth assignments might take the form of biographical studies,
scientific research, or a comparison or analysis of sources. These assignments
might ultimately result in an oral presentation in class or a written essay on a
Whatever the assignment, its goal should be to introduce students to a wide
span of library resources and to make them comfortable in using these sources.
It is easier to evaluate an integrated library program than most other types
of library instruction programs since one of the aspects of such a program is
the librarian's involvement in the assignment and the grading of that
assignment. Faculty are also more willing to participate in the evaluation of
the program when they know that the librarian has as much of a stake in the
class as they do.
Because it is more intense than course-related
instruction and involves the student in library research at a much deeper level,
course-integrated library instruction allows for a more cognitive approach to
research methodology. David Kohl and Lizabeth Wilson, in a study conducted at
the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, found that students whose
introduction to the libraries was through such an approach did a "statistically
significant better job of accessing and using library resources" (Kohl &
Wilson, 1986). They also suggest that the more traditional forms of
course-related instruction (which they refer to as "the one size fits all" program) pay inadequate attention to the differences in discipline organization
and rely too heavily on a basic research strategy that fails to change from one
course to the next. By changing that approach and relating the research needs of
the class with the way library materials in that discipline are structured,
coursework in those classes with which they worked actually improved.
A study at Cornell had similar findings. In one of the courses with which the
Undergraduate Library is currently involved in an "integrated" way, the
instructor has established that the "average grade for papers was up 1.75 points
from previous semesters. There were almost no complaints about
grading--something that has been an issue in the past. There were no cases of
plagiarism" (Ormondroyd & Parrot, 1988).
In addition to its cognitive advantages, course-integrated instruction
mandates that there will always be a library research assignment as part of the
course curriculum. Currie, Goettler, & McCaskill have demonstrated that the
use of a "compulsory library assignment was vital to maximizing absorption and
retention of basic library knowledge" (1982). Yet many instruction librarians
have had the experience of having to argue with faculty who assume that general
introduction to "how the library works" is going to stick with the unmotivated
undergraduate. Once an instructor has been won over to integrating the library
instruction into the course, the assignment becomes a given rather than an issue
to argue over.
Finally, the librarian who is an integral part of a given course is viewed as
a colleague by the instructor of that course and gains stature in the eyes of
the students as well.
As with all programs there are some drawbacks
to course- related library instruction. It is, first of all, very time and
energy consuming. Any librarian involved in such a course must plan on meeting
with the instructor a number of times. He or she will undoubtedly make several
appearances before the class during the course of the semester. If the subject
area is a fairly new one for the librarian, he/she may find it necessary to sit
in on a number of the lectures and to do at least some of the reading for the
Colleagues at the reference desk may become resentful when the students in
the course ask specifically for the librarian associated with that course.
Although this happens in course-related instruction as well, the problem is
exacerbated when the librarian-instructor is not only the one who has worked
closely with the instructor, but has also created the assignments and is doing
the grading. In such a case it may not be appropriate for other librarians to
answer students' procedural questions (e.g., when the paper is due, may I have
an extension, how long should the annotations be). However, students who
actually have subject related questions and could be helped by any of the
reference librarians will still ask for the librarian who is named in their
syllabus. You may be pulled out of your office time and time again, only to find
that what the student needed was to be taught how to use the SOCIAL SCIENCE
CITATION INDEX and assumed that only you could teach him.
And finally, the assignment, which is generally seen as an advantage in this
form of instructional program, also has the disadvantage of having to be graded
by someone. In many cases the instructor is happy to let the librarian do that
grading. In very large classes the instructor can sometimes be persuaded to let
the librarian teach the teaching assistants how to grade the assignments. In
either case, there is a time commitment of some proportion and anyone
undertaking an integrated library program must be prepared to make it.
The leaders of the bibliographic instruction
movement have long advocated the integration of library instruction into
academic courses and many consider it the ideal form of library instruction.
Librarians benefit from it in heightened prestige and improved relations with
faculty, to say nothing of the value of working with students who understand the
research process. Students benefit from the assignments and follow-through
connected with such instruction. Although there are drawbacks in the amount of
time and energy demanded by such a program, any library that can possibly afford
to should develop course-integrated programs. As libraries continue to grow and
become more complex, the demands for such instruction will increase and we must
be prepared to meet them.
Currie, Margaret, Goettler, Elaine, & McCaskill, Sandra. (1982, February). Evaluating the relationship between library skills and library instruction. CANADIAN LIBRARY JOURNAL 39(1): 35-37.
Guskin, Alan E., Stoffle, Carla, & Boisse, James. (1979, Fall). The academic library as a teaching library: A role for the 1980s. LIBRARY TRENDS 28: 281-296.
Kohl, David F. & Wilson, Lizabeth A. (1986, Winter). Effectiveness of course-integrated bibliographic instruction in improving coursework. RQ 26(2): 206-211.
Mellon, Constance A. (1983, Winter). Instruction librarian as change agent. RESEARCH STRATEGIES 1(1): 4-13.
Ormondroyd, Joan & Parrot, Andrea. (1988, Fall). Making real changes: A president's initiative grant at work. CUE (Cornell Undergraduate Education) 2(4): 3-4.
Kemp, Barbara E., Nofsinger, Mary M., & Spitzer, Alice M. (1986, September). Building a bridge: Articulation programs for bibliographic instruction. COLLEGE & RESEARCH LIBRARIES 47(5): 470-473.
Kosuda, Kathleen. (1986, September-October). Bibliographic instruction at a small goal-oriented campus. CATHOLIC LIBRARY WORLD 58(2): 86-87.
Mellon, Constance (Ed.). (1987). BIBLIOGRAPHIC INSTRUCTION: THE SECOND GENERATION. Littleton, CO: Libraries Unlimited.
Tierno, Mark J. & Lee, Joann H. (1983, Spring). Developing and evaluating library research skills in education: A model for course-integrated bibliographic instruction. RQ 22(3): 285-291.