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Library Instruction: Supporting Research in the Virtual Classroom

Library Instruction: Supporting Research in the Virtual Classroom

Image by mohamed_hassan via Pixabay

As the Fordham community gears up for another semester during COVID-19, the library staff would like to remind everyone that we are here to help and provide support through library instruction. While we may not be able to meet in person, there are still many ways to partner with the library to develop student research skills.

What is Library Instruction?

In simple terms, library instruction is a form of teaching where librarians demonstrate how to navigate local library systems and explain the greater information landscape. Our goal is to support faculty and provide students with research methods and materials selected to meet the needs of their coursework. This can include a range of topics including selecting keywords from a research question, choosing the best library databases, finding scholarly articles, locating primary sources, finding data, evaluating empirical research, using citation management tools, and much more.

Image adapted from openclipart.org

Why is Library Instruction Important?

Many studies have found that using libraries, especially reference and instructional services, is one of the many elements at a university connected to student success and retention. A 2017 report from the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) found a correlation between library use and academic success, including undergraduates benefitting from library instruction as freshmen, information literacy instruction supporting general education outcomes, and library consultations with students either one-on-one or within small groups improving student learning.

Image adapted from openclipart.org

Additionally, library instruction builds a sense of community and helps curb library anxiety, a term coined by librarian Constance A. Mellon in 1986 to describe undergraduate students and their feelings of shame around asking questions about library research. Introducing the library liaison for your department or program through a class presentation or other avenues (options will follow below) lets students know that there is a dedicated person in the library who is there to help and support their learning. During these isolating times, this gesture can help students feel more connected at Fordham and comfortable asking for research assistance.

Requesting Library Instruction for Your Classes

If you want to incorporate library instruction into a class, fill out the Library Instruction Request Form with your contact information and course specifics. You can also reach out directly to the library liaison for your department or program if you have any questions or ideas you’d like to discuss.

Library instruction sessions or asynchronous materials work best when they are paired with research assignments. Wondering what this might look like? Here are some examples of what we currently offer:

  • Synchronous options for classes
    • Librarians are available to visit classes online. We are happy to collaborate with faculty to develop presentations specific to your class that fit either the whole class meeting or a portion of the class. Presentations may cover an array of library resources, specific topics, or complicated aspects of an assignment. Research guides, instructive handouts, and slide decks can also be developed to augment a live presentation.
  • Asynchronous options for classes
    • Librarians can record short videos covering information literacy topics or resources specific to your class assignments. If you are interested in more generic materials, how-to videos are available that cover how to use the library catalog, OneSearch, find periodicals, etc.
    • Assigning modules from the Library Tutorial can be a convenient and efficient way to introduce students to library research. Designed to familiarize Fordham students with our local library systems as well as selected information literacy topics, the tutorial is divided into separate modules: Research Basics, Understanding & Evaluating Sources, The Catalog & Library Services, Articles & Databases, and OneSearch & the Internet.
    • We offer Research Guides to support various departments and programs. An existing guide can be edited to include new resources or a course-specific guide can be created as a customized landing page with required resources for assignments. This can be a good option for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses.
    • Fordham librarians can also tailor instructive handouts or slides to support research-driven assignments.
Image credit: Sample page from the The Catalog & Library Services module of the Library Tutorial showing different types of periodicals. 
  • One-on-one and small group options
    • For those looking for something less structured, library liaisons are available to answer subject-specific questions via e-mail or conduct research consultations on Zoom or Google Meet. We can meet one-on-one or with small groups.
    • The Personal Librarian Project is available for all students. Inspired by Jesuit tenet of cura personalis, this program pairs students looking to hone their research skills with a dedicated librarian.

Questions or Ideas?

Mix and match the options listed above, or propose something new. We are open to ideas! Feel free to submit a request through the Library Instruction Request Form or reach out to your library liaison with questions. We are excited for the upcoming semester and look forward to working with you and your students.

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