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Faculty Services and Resources: Instruction

Bring Your Class in for Instruction!

The library offers classroom instruction sessions for your courses.  In our library classroom, we can guide students through the processes of accessing the library resources.  The professional librarians will help to build your students' information literacy skills, while instructing them on how to access and evaluate information.  Bring your class in for a library instruction session for a general introduction to library services or to help prepare them for an upcoming research assignment.    Instruction is available for day, evening, and Saturday classes.  

To set up an instruction session for your class, click on the "Schedule an Instruction Session" button below, email your library liaison, or visit the library and ask to speak to one of the librarians. If you schedule a session through the button below, one of our librarians will reach out to discuss the session with you ahead of time. If you don't hear from us after scheduling a session, please contact us directly.

 

Best Practices for Library Instruction

Instructors Should

  • Consult with the librarian liaison for their department to create an assignment that will require students to use additional sources and to have information literacy skills.  
  • Provide the librarian with a copy of the assignment as well as the course objectives for the class.
  • Schedule the instruction session at least two weeks in advance.  Email your library liaison to schedule this session.  They will teach the session if available and, if not, find another librarian who is. 
  • Introduce the assignment to the students and instruct them to have their topics or area of focus prepared. 

Library Liaisons Should

  • Provide feedback on the assignment’s information literacy requirements and the immediate availability of possible resources that the library can provide.
  • Coordinate scheduling the instruction session and putting the instructor in touch with the librarian leading the session if the liaison is unable to. 
  • Create or update a research guide for the instruction session and email that guide to the instructor so that they may review it.

Instructors Should

  • Stay for the instruction session to model expectations for the students and provide any needed clarity on the assignment requirements

Librarians Should

  • Lead an instruction session, using the research guide to introduce students to helpful resources
  • Provide instruction that relates specifically to the class assignment and helps to develop information literacy skills that match those of the course objectives
  • Provide contact information to encourage students to reach out with any follow up questions
  • Allow for time for students to begin their research and provide individual assistance 

Instructors Should

  • Review the session with the librarian liaison to address any areas of improvement for future instruction.
  • Remind students to use the research guide and library resources when completing the assignment.
  • Encourage students to contact the librarian for more help.

Library Liaisons Should

  • Review the session with the instructor to address any areas of improvement for future instruction.  
  • Share the assignment and any other useful information with the other librarians so that they can be prepared to answer any follow-up questions.
  • Update the research guide if needed.  

Strategies for Creating an Effective Research Assignment

When creating an assignment, remember to consider what objectives the course must address and tailor the assignment to fit those specific needs, such as:

  • Looking beyond a research paper – although research papers are often an effective way to evaluate a student’s skills in analysis, comprehension, research and writing, they are not the only option.  Consider having your students write an annotated bibliography, give a presentation, compare a scholarly article to one found in a popular magazine, or update a research journal.  Any of these options would test the same skills and might also adhere to your course objectives. 
  • Keep Information Literacy in mind – information literacy is the ability to determine an information need, find a resource that meets that need, and determine the quality of that resource.  

When considering possible topics and research requirements, assess what resources will be available to your students:

  • Searching the catalog – do you want your students to use the books in our collection, but notice that there are only a few that are relevant to your course texts?  Put these books on reserve, so that all of the students have a chance to read them.
  • Using the MBLN – did you know that students can order books from any branch of the MBLN, which includes the BPL and all of its branches, to be delivered to our library using their RCC library card?  Consider having your instruction session earlier than anticipated so that students will have time to have these books delivered to RCC.
  • Searching the databases – if you have a list of possible topics or are working with a specific text, try searching these in a few databases, or ask the librarian to do a search for you.  Make sure the students will be able to find enough information using our resources.  

When encouraging your students to use scholarly, well-evaluated resources, avoid generalizing, confusing language, such as:

  • No Internet Sources – students will do most of their research online, using the library databases to find scholarly articles, as well as newspaper articles, primary sources, and eBooks.
  • No encyclopedias – the encyclopedias that the library has access to in print and online are, generally, much more advanced and specialized than just the Encyclopedia Britannica or World Book Encyclopedia.  Our reference collections in print and in the databases, particularly in Credo, can be very useful resources for students. 
  • Must use a specific number of print sources – many of the sources that would once have been considered “print” are now available online.  We have more eBooks than print books and access to many, many more periodicals online than in the library.  By asking your students to find work in this medium, you are limiting their access to resources. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Library Instruction

Why should I bring my students in for library instruction?

Library instruction will help to strengthen your students' information literacy skills, teaching them to better understand how to access and evaluate the resources needed to successfully complete their coursework.  The quality of research papers and presentations greatly improves when students come in for library instruction sessions.

My students said that they already came to the library for instruction in a different class.  Should I bring them in again?

Yes!  What the students often don't realize is that each session is tailored to a specific course and course assignment.  The library has many resources, and it would be impossible to introduce all of those resources in one session.  Instead, we select specific resources that would be most helpful for their projects, so the instruction sessions will vary based on these selections.  Additionally, to improve on their information literacy skills, students need to practice!  The more they come in, the more confident they will become in their abilities to search for and evaluate information.  

I scheduled an instruction session, but I have to cancel -- what should I do?

Please email whoever scheduled your session as soon as you realize that you will need to cancel.  If you cannot remember who scheduled the session, email the general library account, library1@rcc.mass.edu.  We ask that you give us at least 24-hours notice.  The librarians spend a lot of time customizing the instruction session for each course and preparing to lead the class, so the sooner you can let us know, the better.  Also, this will give us a chance to reschedule your session so that your students will not miss out on instruction.  

Should I attend the session?

Yes! We strongly encourage instructors to stay for the session, modeling engaged behavior for their students.   If you do not attend, the students will assume that the session is not important and is merely busy work.  They will not be as focused or as productive.  Additionally, your presence is a helpful resource -- you can clarify any questions about the assignment or course expectations.  Similarly, if you do not attend the session, you won't be able to address any follow-up questions in the classroom about accessing resources.  

When should I bring my students in? 

You should bring your students in when you think it works best within your class schedule and syllabus, but it is helpful for the students to already be aware of the assignment before they come in.  Ideally, students should have their topics or areas of focus chosen before coming to the instruction session so that they can get started on their research.

How should I prepare my students before coming in?

 For your students to be prepared, they should understand the assignment and know what their research topic is.  They should also have a library barcode on the back of their student ID so that they can access the resources from off-campus or Check Out any books that they might find in their searching.  Ask the students to come to the library for a library barcode before the library visit.  Their student ID card must also be updated every semester in the Public Safety office on the first floor of Building 3.  

When and how do I schedule the session?

You can schedule the session as early as possible, but please try to schedule it at least two weeks in advance.  To schedule, email the liaison for your department.  If you do not know your liaison, you can email library1@rcc.mass.edu.  You can also stop in the library and ask to speak to one of the librarians who will coordinate a session for you.  

Where will the session be held?

The library instruction session will be held in the library classroom.  The library is room 211 in Building 3.  When you come into the library, turn right.  Walk past the Circulation Desk and the computers and enter the door to the left of the printers.