Academic libraries are in a unique position to connect and interact with students in a variety of ways. I firmly believe that educating students to be information fluency in our information rich environment needs to be front and center. Being information fluent is more then just finding, using and evaluating sources. It also encompasses the management, synthesis, and creation of information and knowledge utilizing a variety of technologies. As educators it is our responsibility to help students achieve this.
One of the best aspects of my current responsibilities is to help shape and promote library-based curriculum that is focused on information fluency. I am an advocate of active learning techniques and teaching at the point of need. To connect to today’s incoming students, being a facilitator in a collaborative and active learning environment is imperative. Research shows that motivation is a key component of engaging in new content. Since completing a project or assignment is a common motivation for college students, academic librarians can tap into this to guide students through their process. Utilizing digital learning objects, to reach students in their environment, is a strategy that can create a stronger connected between the library and students.
Effective assessment is also another key aspect of a strong teaching program within an academic library. Getting a well-rounded picture of what students know and can do is key to shaping curriculum development and a teaching program. It is also important to have multiple types of assessment to gain better insight into a specific student population. These need to range from observational assessment within the classroom to examination of student work to overarching system-wide analysis.
Throughout my career I’ve had the opportunity to use the classroom as a lab to explore and experiment with different teaching methods and active learning strategies. This has allowed me to grow as a teacher and educator. As my responsibilities have grown and shifted to overseeing program development and implementation, I have been able to investigate other aspects of teaching that are outside of the typical classroom.