The Game Is Afoot: Information Literacy for First-Year Students
“The Game Is Afoot”:
Information Literacy for First-Year Students
Gina O. Petrie, Head of Reference and Information Literacy
To determine whether incorporating games into instruction for first-
year composition students influences the quality of their research.
Will students with games-based instruction learn more, retain more,
and cite more relevant, more substantive sources in their papers?
Using a mixed methods approach, the researcher compared the
results of the traditional lecture-style method with a newer, more
creative classroom games technique. Students’ final papers and their
citations were examined to determine how appropriate, thorough,
and accurate they are.
This research builds upon research conducted in 2015-16, as a part
of the ACRL Assessment in Action Program.
Number of Players
• 2 sections (26 students) of English 1103 (first-year composition)
• 1 section taught with lecture-based method; 1 section taught with
• 8 students submitted papers to be rated.
Unfortunately, no one registered for the focus groups, despite the
offer of free pizza. So only the results from the papers are reported.
Amazing Race modified for local use
Kahoot! created for the class
Candy for the winners!
Obtain Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval
Obtain permission from course professor
Professor collects papers from students choosing to participate
Create rubric to evaluate papers’ works cited lists
Advertise focus group sessions
The librarian used the following rubric to score the works cited list.
Selected Literature Review
Burgert, L. (2016). Revitalizing instruction through active learning
and assessment. Presentation at the Catholic Library Association,
2016 Conference in San Diego, CA.
Core 201 - Amazing Race LibGuide. McConnell Library. Radford
University. (2017, 31 March)
Dating Divas, The. (2013, 16 Sept.). The ultimate amazing race
group date. http://www.thedatingdivas.com/the-ultimate-
Markey, K., Leeder, C., & C. L. Taylor. (2012). Playing games to
improve the quality of the sources students cite in their papers.
Reference & User Services Quarterly, 52, 123-135.
Rock the Library. Amazing race library edition. (2015, 8 Aug.).
Belanger, J., Zou, N., Mills, J. R., Holmes, C., & Oakleaf, M. (2015).
Project RAILS: Lessons learned about rubric assessment of
information literacy skills. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 4,
Tagge, N., Booth, c., Chappell, A., Lowe, M. S., & Stone, S. M.
(2013). Choose your own adventure: Integrating an information
literacy rubric into seven (very) different colleges. Library Staff
Publications and Research, Paper 17.
Whitlock, B. & Ebrahimi, N. (2016). Beyond the library: Using
multiple, mixed measures simultaneously in a college-wide
assessment of information literacy. College & Research Libraries,
Special thanks to Corriher-Linn-Black Library colleague Constance Grant and to Prof.
Margaret Garrison, Catawba College English Department.
The same librarian taught both
sections. For one class she used a
traditional lecture-style format and
for one class she incorporated a local
version of the Amazing Race. For the
Amazing Race, students worked in
teams to complete a number of
library-related challenges. The
winning team received candy.
Unintended Consequences and Unexpected Outcomes
• Many more papers were submitted for the games-based class than
for the lecture class. Why?
• Focus groups could provide useful information. How to convince
students to participate?
• Select participating faculty carefully. Communicate with them
clearly to avoid last minute misunderstandings.