Hierarchies of Evidence: Introducing information literacy (The School of Clinical Dentistry)
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Academic Liaison Librarian Vicky Grant has worked with Dr Chris Stokes to restructure the teaching of Information Literacy on the BDS course in the School of Clinical Dentistry. They did this as skills learnt in the course (introduced previously in first year when it seemed to be more “logical”) were not used and were forgotten by the time they came to be needed later in the course. What they developed consisted of lectures, workshops, computer based tutorials and assessments and had more immediate relevance and utility to the curriculum and to students’ work.
Please give a brief description of the approach (100 words or less). The goal of this approach was to teach and subsequently employ Information Literacy in a more narrow time span, in order that students do not forget the techniques that they are taught. As an additional benefit we hoped to make the Library seem more approachable.
What did you do? The first thing we did was think about what skills students actually needed and when they needed them. Then we assessed whether or not what we were doing was fulfilling these needs. It was clear we were not. We restructured what we did so that students not only became more information literate but also so that they began to feel more comfortable in the library as a space where they could be independent learners.
Who were the target audience (i.e. number of students, level, discipline)?
- About 90 students.
- I (Vicky) did a lecture and then workshops with student groups of 20 (with the aid of one of the other librarians).
- Two Library staff were involved in the course.
- Previously there was one lecture with all the information in the first year but it was one year before they eventually would need it. By then students had actually forgotten it.
- Work was assessed. This was important because it is a motivating factor as the students had to pay attention and could see it is an integrated part of the course; points were given for how well researched and evaluated sources are for work.
What is important background information the Case Studies reader should know (who was involved, where did it take place, in what context)?
During the first lecture of year one, in the first couple of weeks, we invite the Library Marketing Team along for fun: they always do something fun so it creates a certain atmosphere and makes it fun (which students do not necessarily expect for a lecture on the Library). The concept of the library becomes much more friendly and approachable, but at the same time they (the Librarians) are able to demonstrate exactly what their role is; as someone who does much more than just stamp books.
A second lecture occurs in the second year, at the end of October, followed right on by workshops (divided into 5 groups) – using online tutorials to help. Three broad dimensions are covered:
- Question analysis and search planning
PICO (Patient, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome) is taught as a strategy to analyse clinical questions into concepts which are then compatible with a database search
- Searching for best evidence using Medline Web of Knowledge and the National Library for Health
- The hierarchy of evidence and critical appraisal
Last year (2007-2008) was the first year that this approach was used. We think that next year we could have the students do the online tutorials in preration for the classroom time and we then could do some problem/inquiry-based learning in class; perhaps as a clinically based group exercise to find the best evidence.
What was the scope or main focus of the approach?
What problem or experience lead you to develop this approach? The goal was to make Information Literacy more relevant to the curriculum, at a time when they needed it. Staging it at the beginning of the course was too early. The timing and integration is something we needed to revise.
What preparation did you need(please be as specific as possible)? At least one academic needed to be engaged with an overview of the entire curriculum to advise on where Information Literacy can be implemented.
How your development of this approach impact on your time (please be as specific as possible)? I met with a colleague four times, and had email contact but in future years there would be less organisation required because the bulk of it is done. A couple of days was also required to construct and implement the online tutorials. It was fairly time consuming on the part of the liaison librarian but not on the part of the school. There was no additional cost involved as the technologies etc. are already there.
Advice to others trying a similar approach? It is necessary to have someone that you can work well with, as enthusiasm is important. It is necessary to keep it manageable; to start off small and work with one course at a time and see how it goes.
What did you need to adapt when using this approach?
What is an aspect that will need to be adjusted in the future? In the future the online tutorials will be used prior to class so that the class teaching can be more interactive.
What is a main strength of this approach?/How does it make things better? It is much more rewarding when students are engaged with the subject, Assessment also reflects how effective it is.
What is of particular interest or innovative about this approach? All too often IL is not taught as part of the curriculum. Asking the librarians to lecture to the students at the start of the course is not effective. This teaching needs to be integrated and contextualised.
What is one technique people from other areas/disciplines could adapt? Make IL part of an assessed piece of work and ask you Liaison Librarian to teach as part of this module.
How did you judge if you had been successful? What evidence do you have? The general quality of student work has really improved. The students will not need as many one-to-one tutorials if they are proficient independent learners.
Why would you recommend this approach? It engages students, leads to higher grades and is more rewarding to teach when students are responsive and see the relevance of what we are doing.
What kind of feedback have you had and how will this change your project in the future? Academics said results demonstrated that the students changed how they used references and research in their assessed work.
Student evaluation. In response to the question ‘I feel reasonably confident that I can find information to support my assignments’ 2006 (pre-integration) 53% agree or strongly agree 2007 (post-integration) 92% agree or strongly agree
This work will be presented as a poster at the EAHIL conference in Helsinki, June 2008. http://wiki.helsinki.fi/display/EAHILScientificProgramme
Relevant articles/references and websites:
Librarian's Blog for Medicine: http://www.lbasg.group.shef.ac.uk/medicine/
Librarian's Blog for History: http://www.lbasg.group.shef.ac.uk/history/
Librarian's Blog for Dentistry: http://www.lbasg.group.shef.ac.uk/dentistry/
Librarian's Blog for Info Studies http://www.lbasg.group.shef.ac.uk/infostudies/
Librarian's Blog for English http://www.lbasg.group.shef.ac.uk/english/
To discuss this Case Study/Contact Details:
Academic Liaison Librarian,