1. IDP – Motivation Case Studies
CASE STUDY 1
An unseen audience
A professor asked AgatheNoisette, an academic librarian, to create an online
information literacy training module for a biology class that will be conducted entirely
The faculty member has high expectations of her students. They are expected to write
research papers that resemble journal articles. Primary, secondary, and tertiary sources
will need to be used. Students are expected to identify and retrieve these works at the
library. The professor also requested instruction on citation management, online tools
for PDF annotations, and an overview of the impact of open access on the scholarly
communication life cycle (in order to prepare students to be successful in the emerging
academic landscape). And one more item: a short exploration on plagiarism to help
students understand their ethical responsibilities in academic writing.
Many of the enrolled are on-campus students taking this online class to fit their busy
“This is a lot of content to cover!” thought Agathe. So she decidesto make online
course guides with detailed listings of databases and other helpful tools.
“But this isn’t enough, is it?” Agathe began to wonder, “Professor Ykspetäjä has high
expectations, so I’ll make more guides to help students find advanced materials for
their specific research topics.” Six more Library à la Carteguides later, she developed a
set of comprehensive pages with detailed listings of many more helpful resources.
After developing these pages, Agathe was exhausted. She couldmake no moreand
barelyhad the energy to review her guides – plus she had other classes and
responsibilities to work on. So she leaves her guides as they are and contacted the
faculty member to share the links and to encourage students to contact her directly for
library research assistance.
The semester started andthere was no immediate contact from students. “Maybe
later,” Agathethought, but then November came and still no students contacted her for
2. IDP – Motivation Case Studies
“How is this possible?” Agathe wondered, “This is a major project and surely one
student must be having difficulty finding resources.”
Agathe reviewed the usage statistics on her library course guides and saw that students
have visited the course guide pages, but they spentan average of less than 3 minutes on
Agathe was perplexed. Why aren’t students using these guides more intensively and
why aren’t they reaching out to librarians on such a massive research assignment?
3. IDP – Motivation Case Studies
CASE STUDY 2
When group workdoesn’t work
Alphonse Maçonis a research and reference librarian at an academic library. He read
that learning retention is improved when you employ active learning techniques,
particularly when teams are able to discuss and work cooperatively on exercises and
He decided to use this team approach for an undergraduate students’ honors thesis
seminar. Alphonse’s goal was to encourage students to discuss their research interests
and then articulate a specific research question before identifying relevant keywords
for their subsequent literature searches.
But time is limited to 50 minutes for thisclass, and Alphonse needed to squeeze in five
group activities to enable students to work through the different stages of literature
searching and writing.
So Alphonse made up three different research topics and wrote a background
paragraph for each. He felt that these canned topics will help the class run more
smoothly, since he is comfortable with these topics, and he’ll be able to demonstrate
“tested” searches to show students how library research should work.
When the class met, Alphonse gave the instructions very quickly, “Alright, let’s form
groups of four. In your handouts, I list three different research topics. After reading
this background information, discuss and identify a specific research question for this
topic. Afterwards, identify the important terms from your question that you’ll use in
your literature searches. As you’re extracting these key words, be sure to think of
alternative phrasing. Alright, let’s go!”
“Easy!” Alphonse thought, “These are undergrad honors students; they will be diligent
and complete this first exercise easily.”
However 10 minutes into the class, the three groups of students were at very different
stages of theexercise.
In Group Alpha, the members seemed frustrated because they couldn’t agree on
picking a research topiclisted in their handout.
4. IDP – Motivation Case Studies
Group Bravo had one student doing all of the work, dominating the discussion while
other team members followed passivelyalong.
Group Charlie was overly diligent and members spent too much time craftingthe
“perfect" research question while debating semantic disputes.
Alphonse was frustrated by these results. He wanted students to experience a series of
fun and collaborative team exercises, but it looks like they won’t be able to complete
the remaining four exercises in the last 40 minutes of the class.
Alphonse concluded, “Students are too distracted to work in groups efficiently. Next
time, I’m going to stick to a lecture and demonstration. It may be boring for students,
but at least I’ll be able to cover all the content and give students an impression of all the
services and resources available at the library.”