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Activate Your Learners! Active Learning Strategies for Fostering Participant Engagement in Information Literacy Sessions
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Activate Your Learners! Active Learning Strategies for Fostering Participant Engagement in Information Literacy Sessions


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MacEwan University Librarians have revamped introductory information literacy programming to incorporate active learning activities. Our session will discuss the value of active learning, share the …

MacEwan University Librarians have revamped introductory information literacy programming to incorporate active learning activities. Our session will discuss the value of active learning, share the chart used to match activities with learning objectives, and allow participants to experience active learning activities that could be adapted for programming in all types of libraries.

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  • LisaIntroductionsActive Learning is not a completely new concept. I think we all use elements of active learning during our programming, but it can be very easy to slip into rote, routine lecture mode. I know I have a spiel I give during my session. By being aware of this concept, and shaking up our teaching a bit, our IL sessions became a bit less boring and students paid a bit more attention and maybe even learned something.***From Proposal: Knowledge of active learning principles. Chart of active learning activities. Practical experience of active learning activities. Objective: This session will demonstrate to participants the value and applicability of active learning to information literacy (IL) instruction. Participants will experience active learning activities that could be adapted to all types of library programming. Method: Speakers will discuss the value of incorporating active learning techniques within IL instruction as a proven means of fostering learner engagement and participation. They will share a chart, used by the teaching team to individualize IL sessions, which maps IL learning objectives with corresponding activities. Session attendees will have the opportunity to experience five different active learning activities, and to participate in a reflective discussion of these active learning experiences and their applicability to IL programming. Results: Session attendees will experience active learning activities being used in the IL program at MacEwan University Library. Participants will learn strategies and techniques for applying active learning within IL instruction, and will come away from the session with a useful guide for matching active learning elements to IL learning objectives. Conclusion: The MacEwan University library remodeling of English IL instruction to incorporate active learning has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for library instructors as well as for student learners. We hope to inspire participants towards reinvigorating their own IL programming with active learning Description:MacEwan University Librarians have revamped introductory information literacy programming to incorporate active learning activities. Our session will discuss the value of active learning, share the chart used to match activities with learning objectives, and allow participants to experience active learning activities that could be adapted for programming in all types of libraries.
  • LisaKeep in mind “instruction” can be interchanged with “programming” and “student” can be interchanged with “participant”. As academic librarians, we speak from our experience with students, but if you’re in a public or special library, these principles apply to any patrons or clients you may be delivering programming or sessions to.1. Modified Shootout Activity:Participants write a question about active learning on a piece of paper. They exchange that paper with a neighbor/partner. Their partner will keep the question in mind throughout the session and they will discuss and answer each other’s questions at the end.Leah 2. Modified Press Conference Card Activity:“Who has the red card? What is your name? Please read the question. Thank you <name>.” Here is the answer…
  • LeahThis can be through activities such as group discussion, investigation, experimentation, or role play.As opposed to traditional passive lecture formats, active learning emphasizes the link between learning and doing, and requires student participation.1. Modified Press Conference Card Activity:“Who has the blue card? What is your name? Please read the question. Thank you <name>.” Why bother with active learning…
  • LeahActive learning helps to increase student interest and involvement by allowing them to express their questions, ideas and opinions.With active learning, the librarian acts less like a lecturer dispensing information and more like a facilitator of critically reflective learning which develops information literacy skills and engagement with their academic discipline.The librarian becomes less of a focal point, and is able to move through the classroom and assist students who are given greater opportunity to participate and exercise their skills. Active learning is an approach that recognizes a variety of learning styles and offers instructors multiple ways of reaching learners that perform better in environments which are less lecture-based.1. Modified Press Conference Card Activity:“Who has the green card? What is your name? Please read the question. Thank you <name>.” How do I promote an active learning environment…
  • LeahPersonally, I [LEAH FILL IN WHAT YOU DO]Not sure about incorporating active learning activities into your session? Here are some other tips!This will make the students a bit more comfortable while creating an inviting and low-risk atmosphere for participation.
  • LeahOur activities were chosen to match with the Association of College and Research Libraries Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. We developed this framework to be shared with the teaching team so that each librarian could build on it and combine activities to suit their style and classroom needs.We focused on five areas of content taught in our sessions:General library and website information or reviewKeyword GenerationBoolean logicTypes of ArticlesDatabase Searching
  • LeahEach of these areas feature a variety of activities, so it can be tailored to a librarian's individual preferences and teaching style. Basically, the library instructor would pick and choose activities based on the classes’ assignment, instructor request and individual teaching style. Refreshing our approaches not only benefited the students, but also us as IL instructors - we were forced to reexamine our established practices and step outside our comfort zone. Teaching new activities was also refreshing and fun for us.It’s worth mentioning that some of these activities we were already doing or made up, and some we adapted from other resources.
  • JodyI came into this project after Lisa and Leah had already laid the foundation. [JODY ADD]We’ve already demonstrate 2 of our activities to you. The first was a modified version of our “Shoot Out activity” – designed to introduce and review the library to our students. We hand out slips of paper and ask students to write down a question they have about the library or particular topic. Sometimes we get students to share in pairs like we’ve done here. Sometimes we have students keep their paper and at the end of the session we would ask students to share any questions that are unanswered. Sometimes, as the name implies, we ask students to crumple the paper into a ball and throw it at a target on the screen, or at us. We would then answer the questions at the start or end of the session depending on the class. Sometimes we get the other students to answer the question. (Reference: our own idea)1. Modified Press Conference Card Activity:“Who has the pink card? What is your name? Please read the question. Thank you <name>.”The second was a brief version of our “Press Conference Cards”. This activity is adapted from the Cephalonian Method. Usually we hand out 4-8 cards. This activity also aligns with our library review section so we ask questions like what time is the library open or how do I find a book on the shelf. (Reference: Morgan, Nigel & Davies, Linda. (2004). Innovative library induction – introducing the ‘Cephalonian method’. SCONUL Focus, 32(Summer/Autumn), 4.)These two activities can easily be adapted to any content that you might be teaching or presenting at any library in a group setting.
  • JodyAs academic librarians, we teach students about Boolean operators – using AND and OR to string together searching in order to get effective results returned. Blah Blahblah DEMONSTRATION (Reference:Blackman, M. (2003). Active learning techniques for library instruction: Shuffle and deal. Retrieved from
  • JodyAs academic librarians, we are often asked to teach students the difference between popular, trade and scholarly articles and journals. Another activity which really appeals to visual and kinesthetic learners is our sorting journals activity. First we would explain or demonstrate the difference between these different types of publications. Then, student groups would be provided with a pile of various types of journals. They are given 5 minutes to sort the pile into the three categories of popular, trade and scholarly. After, students would have to discuss with the group why they chose to put particular journals in particular categories. We would always include journals that appear to cross boundaries, such as the Harvard Business Review, Psychology Today, Canadian Nurse and Science or Nature.(Reference: our own idea)
  • JodyOne of the activities we do when teaching database searching with our students is a resource referee activity. We hand out a different folder to small groups of students. Each folder contains either types of articles and screen shots from a particular database. Students look through the materials, or explore the database online together and answer discussion questions which are also provided in the folder. Examples of questions are:What types of articles can you find in this database?Would you consider this database a good source of academic material?Databases we often include are Google, Google Scholar, Canadian Business and Current Affairs, our federated search, or a discipline specific database.The class would some come together and each group would present briefly on their database. Students determine which databases are appropriate resources for their particular assignment. This is usually followed by a demonstration of how to use the database, as well as hands on searching time for students.We’ve brought a set of folders, if you want to take a look at the contents after.(Reference: Activity adapted from ‘The Coffee Can Appetizer” : Sittler, R., & Cook, D. (2009). The library instruction cookbook. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2009.)
  • LisaIf no response, offer questions as polls.Potential issues: lots of up front work (eg. Sorting Journals, Resource Referee), non compliance from patrons etc.
  • LisaThe last thing we need you to do is take a look at the question your neighbour gave you at the beginning of the presentation. Please take a few minutes now to talk together about the answers.Are there any questions?
  • Active Learning requires a bit more clean up - on your way out, you can try out the rest of our Shoot Out activity. Please do leave your papers and playing cards in our bin on your way out!
  • Lisa
  • Transcript

    • 1. Activate Your Learners!Active Learning Strategies for Fostering ParticipantEngagement in Information Literacy SessionsLisa Shamchuk, Leah Plouffe & Jody NelsonMacEwan University LibraryCLA Conference and TradeshowMay 30, 2013
    • 2. OutlineThis session will:• Discuss the value of including active learningtechniques in instruction/programming.• Present the chart used by our teaching team toindividualize instruction.• Allow you to try out active learning activities.
    • 3. Active LearningActive learning refers to a student-centredinstruction method which focuses on havingstudents actively participate in the learningprocess.
    • 4. Advantages of Active Learning• Improves:– Interest– Motivation– Involvement– Group work dynamics• Allows students to:– Express their ideas/opinions– Practice their skills– Take responsibility for theirown learning• Recognizes a variety of learningstyles
    • 5. Tips for Active Learning• Talk informally with students as they arrive for class.• Expect that students will participate and act accordingly.• Arrange the classroom to encourage participation including putting chairs in a clusteror circle if appropriate.• Reduce anonymity by introducing yourself. Ask the class to relate previous libraryexperiences to you.• Use small group discussion, questioning, and writing to allow for non-threateningmethods of student participation.• Give students time to give responses, do not rush them.• Reward students for participating by praising them or paraphrasing what they say.• Draw the students into discussions by showing the relevance of the library to theirstudies.• Allow students time to ask questions at the end of class.• Use humour to add an element of fun to sessions.(Drueke, 1992)
    • 6. Goal Activities ACRL StandardIntroduction to (or reviewof) the library and itsservices• Jeopardy• Shoot Out• PressConferenceIdentifying alternatesynonyms and spellings• Taboo• Synonym Race2.2.b : Identifies keywords, synonyms and relatedterms for the information neededApplying Boolean Logic• Human Booleans• Shuffle and Deal• Coloured Shapes2.2.d: Constructs a search strategy usingappropriate commands for the information retrievalsystem selected (e.g., Boolean operators, truncationand proximity for search engines)Identifyingpopular/trade/academicarticles• Sorting Journals• Wanted Ad• ResourceReferee: Journals3.2.a: Examines and compares information fromvarious sources in order to evaluate reliability,validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness and point ofview or bias.3.2.d: Recognizes the cultural, physical or othercontext within which the information was createdand understands the impact ofcontext on interpreting the information.Searching databases• Scrimmage• Librarian Needs aNew Car• ResourceReferee:Databases2.2.e: Implements the search strategy in variousinformation retrieval systems using differentuser interfaces and search engines.2.3.a: Uses various search systems to retrieveinformation in a variety of formats.
    • 7. Introduction to (or reviewof) the library and itsservicesIdentifying alternatesynonyms and spellingsApplying Boolean Logic Identifyingpopular/trade/academicarticlesSearching databasesJeopardyReview of library skills(general library, catalogue,periodicals, databases, etc)using Powerpoint Jeopardygame.TabooTopic keywords are declaredtaboo and cannot be used tosearch. Students brainstormother terms in pairs orgroups.Human BooleansStudent clothing or birthdatesare used to demonstrate howBoolean operators can beused to narrow or widen asearch.Sorting JournalsProvided stacks of mixedtypes of journals are sortedand described by students.ScrimmageBased on discovery principle,students search databases ontheir topic without receivinginstruction and then discusstheir methods before thelibrarian demonstrates.Shoot OutStudents write questions onslips of paper and throw themto the front of the class.Questions are answered atthe end of the session, if notcovered at the beginning orduring the class.Synonym RaceStudents are placed in teamsand given a keyword. Teamsthen race to come up with themost synonyms.Shuffle and DealStudents are given a playingcard, and stand wheninstructor asks for certaincombinations using AND, ORto demonstrate how Booleanoperators can be used tonarrow or widen a search.Wanted AdStudents write a wanted adfor academic journals,describing theircharacteristics.Librarian Needs a New CarStudents search for an itemand discuss different resultsfound via web, CBCA,1search, catalogue, etc.Press ConferenceColoured cards with libraryquestions are given tostudents at the beginning ofclass and answeredthroughout at timely intervals.Coloured ShapesPremade coloured shapesare given out to students.Students stand when theircard is described with AND,OR, NOT to demonstrate howBoolean operators can beused to narrow or widen asearch.Resource Referee: JournalsFolders are filled with articlesthat might be found indifferent types of journals etc.Students are asked toexamine contents andcomment.Resource Referee:DatabasesFolders are filled with itemsthat might be found onGoogle, different databases,etc. Students are asked toexamine contents andcomment.
    • 8. Shoot Out & Press Conference Cards
    • 9. Shuffle and Deal
    • 10. Sorting Journals?
    • 11. Resource Referee: Databases
    • 12. ReflectionWhat types of active learning activities are youalready doing in your sessions?Of the activities discussed, which could you seeyourself using/modifying for your sessions? How?What potential problems/issues can you foreseewith any of these activities?
    • 13. Questions?Lisa ShamchukshamchukL@macewan.caLeah Plouffeleahplouffe@gmail.comJody
    • 14. References“Active learning" (2009). In S. Wallace (Ed.), A dictionary of education. Retrieved from 2012from http://www.oxfordreference.comBooth, C. (2011). Reflective teaching, effective learning: Instructional literacy for library educators. Chicago:American Library Association.Burkhardt, J. M., MacDonald, M. C., & Rathemacher, A. J. (2010). Teaching information literacy: 50standards-based exercises for college students (2nd ed.). Chicago: American Library Association.Chen, K. & Lin, P. (2011). Information literacy in university library user education. Aslib Proceedings, 63(4), 399-418. doi:10.1108/00012531111148967Drueke, J. (1992). Active learning in the university library instruction classroom. Research Strategies, 10(Spring), pp. 77-83.Holderied, A. C. (2011). Instructional design for the active: Employing interactive technologies and activelearning exercises to enhance information literacy. Journal of Information Literacy, 5(1), 23-32. Retrievedfrom, R., & Cook, D. (2009). The library instruction cookbook. Chicago: Association of College and ResearchLibraries.