October 2015 Site of the Month

Navigate: UWF Libraries Research Tutorials


Authors: Joshua Vossler & Britt McGowan

Institution: University of West Florida

Interviewee: Britt McGowan
Interviewer: Danielle Skaggs

Tutorial Description: The UWF Libraries tutorials were in need of updating and also new topic needs had emerged. I (Britt) was able to identify 34 tutorial topics that covered aspects of the five ACRL standards and ones that also met institution needs (Library Orientation & Research Application in the 21st Century Workplace). On the tutorials page, these are grouped into sections by standard or institution need: “Starting Your Research” (Standard One), “Finding Sources” (Two), “Evaluating Sources” (Three), “Using Sources Effectively” (Four), and “Using Sources Ethically” (Five); for institution need, “Library Orientation,” “Types of Assignments,” “Additional Resources/Tools.” Receiving university funds, the library was able to hire Joshua Vossler, an instructional designer and librarian, to create the videos. Together, we worked collaboratively on student learning outcomes, quizzes, and scripts for the videos and gathered input from students and librarians along the way. This project took a full school year, and roll out began in Fall 2014. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

Q: What led you to develop this resource?

A: Our library initially developed a set of tutorials in 2004. Every year, we would update some and replace some, but we really hadn’t looked at all of our tutorial topics as a whole in quite some time. [With this project,] we wanted to develop a large range of topics addressing information literacy skills that are important to our faculty and students while presenting them in an engaging, consistent format. We intentionally sequenced them in a way that follows the general research process; however, we recognized that the research process is not always linear. So, we decided that each of the tutorials should also be stand-alone so that individual lessons could also be taken at the point-of-need.

Q: The funding for the creation of these tutorials was through the Pace Academic Development Award. Can you tell us more about this award?

A: The Pace Academic Development Awards are funded internally at our university through Academic Affairs and have supported different initiatives.  Faculty and staff were invited to submit proposals for projects that would enhance the educational experience at UWF. Our dean really encouraged us to apply, and I’m glad he did.

Q: What led you to hire an instructional designer? How did you pick Joshua Vossler?

A: We had great ideas about what we wanted to accomplish, but we struggled with the time and technological knowledge it would take to do it.  We would always update our tutorials in the summer when we had time, but that led to us re-learning software, having to update only the most used tutorials, and putting other summer projects to the side. Hiring an instructional designer with a Pace Award freed us from that.

We received many thoughtful applications from many talented people. As for picking Josh, I was impressed with his videos at Kimbel Library before our process began, so I was excited when he applied.  His video skills, artistic talent, knowledge of information literacy, and humor (which also helped with the process!) are just awesome. Or, as our dean would say, “wicked.”

Q: Tell us about the process you used to determine the tutorial topics.

A: We knew from our old tutorials that there were some topics that were heavily used and still relevant at the university, such as addressing plagiarism and citing sources; differentiating between types of sources; and basic library skills. However, there were also some holes. To fill them, we used the ACRL Standards as a guide while also making some tutorials that were uniquely important to our university (e.g. our “Research Application in the 21st Century Workplace” series).

Q: What technologies did you utilize for the tutorials?

A: Here, I’m going to let Josh answer!

Josh: A hodgepodge of software and hardware. Adobe Premiere Pro for video editing, Adobe Audition for audio editing, Photoshop & ArtRage for digital content creation, and Notepad++ and Open Broadcaster Software to edit and record ArtRage scripts for speedpainting animations. The audio was recorded with an Olympus stereo digital microphone. The video was recorded with a Panasonic HD camcorder. The videos were edited and rendered on a custom PC running an overclocked, liquid-cooled quad-core i7. Digital painting and video editing were done on a Wacom Cintiq 24HD, and there was a USB jog wheel in there somewhere.

Q: Were there any accessibility guidelines and/or best practices you consulted or tried to follow while creating this tutorial?

A: We have included PDF scripts of each tutorial that are compatible with screen-readers, and we are working to close-caption each tutorial as well. We also ensured that the tutorials could be accessed from a variety of mobile devices. As for best practices, we aimed to keep each video short and focused on one learning outcome.

Q: Most of the information covered in these tutorials is conceptual rather than procedural. Was this done to minimize the need for updating?

A: Absolutely! Interfaces just change so rapidly. But also: we wanted the tutorials to move beyond procedure to transferable information literacy concepts, so that students could apply their skills to a wider variety of situations.

Q: How are the tutorials being promoted and used at your institution? Are they integrated into classes, workshops, assignments, etc.?

A: We have promoted our tutorials in a variety of ways, including writing a teaching tip that our Center for University Teaching, Learning, and Assessment distributes, posting on social media, and meeting with faculty.

Many of the series of tutorials have been assigned as class assignments, and some instructors assign them prior to library instruction sessions. Each tutorial comes with a 3-question quiz,  and instructors may assign an individual tutorial or a whole set (e.g., Evaluating Sources has 4 video topics) with a 10-question quiz.  Librarians also use the tutorials in class to supplement what they are teaching in a succinct way.

Q: How did you develop the quiz questions?

A: Josh developed most of them, but I did some too. It was such a collaborative process at the SLO and quiz level. Josh would do a lot of drafting and send me SLOs, quizzes, and pre-writing of the scripts that would fit them. Many times, at this stage, he’d notice that there were two or more different directions we could take it, often identifying that we were trying to cover too much. The instinct to cram is strong in instruction, so I’m glad he caught this tendency. So, he’d send me content to make directional decisions on, and we’d go from there.  In some cases, I’d write quizzes or revise them as an easier way to communicate the librarians’ intentions for the tutorials.

Q: How are you gathering feedback on the tutorials?

A: We have a feedback form on our tutorials page, but we receive most of our feedback informally through the instructors and students who use them.  In the instruction sessions, we usually include a minute paper for students to tell us what they learned in the sessions. Many times, when we’ve used one of the videos, they mention the topic it covered. The feedback has been very positive overall.

Q: Has any assessment been done on the tutorials?

A: Yes. We have a lot of data for both the 3-question quizzes for each of the tutorials as well as the larger 10-question quizzes for each tutorial set.  The sets that I know are assigned by instructors seem to have better results, possibly because the students know they are being graded. For example, in our “Library Orientation” set, 91% of students scored an 8/10 or higher, and in our “Using Sources Ethically” set, 97% of students scored an 8/10 or higher.  Our other 10-question quizzes range between 74% and 83% of students scoring an 8/10.  To improve these, we are analyzing the questions to see if we can identify a pattern in students missing the same questions.

Q: Do you have any advice for those considering the development of similar projects?

A: Even with hiring an instructional designer, the process is still labor-intensive and you’ll want a few librarians helping with reviewing learning outcomes, quizzes, and scripts.  It is nice to focus solely on content, but you still need to work closely with the creator to make sure the tutorial is tailored to your institution.

As with any change, make sure you market the new tutorials and quizzes in advance so that instructors can be prepared for changing links in LMSes, updating their syllabi, etc. To help with this transition, we added notes to some of our old tutorial links or re-direct URLs where applicable.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: I love the videos that refer to local places/restaurants and include drawings of our service desks, library spaces, and staff. I’m so glad Josh solicited pictures and local information from us; I think it really made a difference in personalizing the tutorials for our students. Also, I should add that even though Josh now has a day job as the Head of Reference and Instruction at SIU Carbondale, he does still produce instructional videos on commission.  I highly recommend him. Thanks for highlighting our project!

October 2015 PRIMO Site of the Month

Posted in primo | Leave a comment

Featured Teaching Librarian: Megan Hodge

Several times a year, the ACRL Instruction Section Teaching Methods Committee selects and interviews a librarian who demonstrates a passion for teaching, innovation, and student learning. Nominate yourself or someone great at http://acrl.ala.org/isteach/librarian-of-the-month/tlom-nomination-form/ !

Name: Megan HodgeMegan Hodge

Institution: Virginia Commonwealth University

Job Title: Teaching & Learning Librarian

Number of Years Teaching: 3 in higher ed, 4 including my time student-teaching as an undergrad.

Are you a dogs or cats fan?

I’ve got nothing against dogs, but cats all the way. I love that they’re completely autonomous beings who don’t feel any obligation to do what humans ask of them.

What’s your favorite season?

Fall. The students are back and fill the campus with energy. Plus: the smell of woodsmoke, brightly colored trees, and sweaters; what’s not to love?

Describe a favorite activity that you use with students (this could be for a face-to-face class, online, or hybrid class).

Students usually get a kick out of playing Password/Taboo to help them ‘think outside the box’ in terms of keyword generation. To play, ask for a student volunteer; I’ve found that it helps to offer candy as a bribe, as they’re often shy about volunteering until after the first round. The volunteer stands at the front of the classroom facing away from the board. Write a word on board (for example:  vehicle, USA, happiness). Other students shout out single words (this is important–no leading phrases!) that describe or are related to the word on the board in order to help the student at the front guess what the word is. It’s most helpful to go through 2-3 rounds. After all the words have been guessed, discuss as a class: Why did you choose these words? Any themes (types, descriptors, etc.)? Explain how students can go through this same process when thinking of additional terms for their keywords.

What class do you teach the most and how do you keep it fresh?

VCU has a couple FYE-type courses for which my department teaches 100-150+ one-shots each semester. I love to include pop culture references in my instruction,
like meme-themed slidedecks (see some examples at http://www.slideshare.net/mlhodge) or referencing trending hashtags like #thedress or #tbt. For one thing, changing these out throughout or at the beginning of every semester ensures that my examples are fresh to me as well as to the students. More importantly, though, is their unexpectedness: students generally don’t expect librarians to be whipping out things like memes. In their (fascinating! check it out!) book Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath discuss how useful the surprise factor is in helping people remember what it is you’re telling them–a good thing for any instructor to keep in mind.

Name two things you would share with a librarian who is new to teaching.

1. Take the first couple minutes of class to prime your students for what to expect. In their coursework, K-12 teachers learn about the ‘anticipatory set,’ a question or exercise that piques student interest in the lesson and establishes a rapport between class and instructor. These couple minutes are especially important for one-shot instructors as they’re the one opportunity to convince students that the instructor is worth listening to. If the lesson will involve active learning, it can be especially helpful to have the anticipatory set involve an activity (such as writing questions on sticky notes and sticking them to the board) that will alert the students at the beginning of class that their involvement will be expected throughout the class. This can help prevent a lack of participation later on in the session.

2. Take the time to reflect on each class you teach. Especially in the beginning, when you’re trying lots of new things at once, it can be helpful to record what worked and what didn’t, and to speculate on reasons and solutions, which will improve your teaching in the future. Char Booth’s Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning has some effective strategies for this.

Posted in Featured Teaching Librarian, ISTM, teaching-methods | 1 Comment

Final Call for Nominations: Ilene F. Rockman Instruction Publication of the Year Award!

The deadline for submissions is only a month away!

The Ilene F. Rockman Instruction Publication of the Year Award honors the late Dr. Ilene F.Rockman, a nationally recognized leader in the field of information literacy. The Rockman Award acknowledges an outstanding article or book on instruction or information literacy in an academic library environment published within the last two years.

Publications are judged on the basis of their relevance to the field of instruction in academic or research libraries, originality, timeliness, and quality of writing. Winners are awarded a $3,000 cash prize donated by the Emerald Group.

Nominations for the award must include a complete citation, letter of support explaining how the publication meets the award criteria, and whenever possible, a copy of the publication itself.

The deadline for submissions is Nov. 30, 2015

Send nominations to the Ilene F. Rockman Award Chair, Elana Deana Karshmer, Saint Leo University, T: (352) 588-8412, Email:elana.karshmer@saintleo.edu.

Posted in news | Leave a comment

Call for Nominations: Instruction Section Miriam Dudley Instruction Librarian Award

The ACRL Instruction Section is now accepting nominations for the prestigious Miriam Dudley Instruction Librarian of the Year Award. This award recognizes an individual librarian who has made an especially significant contribution to the advancement of instruction in a college or research library environment. The award honors Miriam Dudley, whose pioneering efforts in the field of bibliographic instruction led to the formation of the ACRL Instruction Section.


A plaque and a $1000.00 cash award, sponsored by the Instruction Section, are presented during the Instruction Section program at the ALA Annual Conference.


Nominees should have achieved distinction in one or more of the following areas:

  • Planning and implementation of an academic instruction program in a library environment that has served as a model for other programs nationally or regionally
  • Production of a body of research and publication that has a demonstrable impact on the concepts and methods of teaching and information-seeking strategies in a college or research institution
  • Sustained participation in organizations, at the regional or national level, devoted to the promotion and enhancement of academic instruction in a library environment
  • Promotion, development, and integration of education for instruction in ALA accredited library schools or professional continuing education programs that have served as models for other courses and programs


Electronic submissions are required. Nominations must include the name, mailing address, email address, and telephone number of the nominee with a letter of support detailing the nominee’s qualifications for the award. Additional letters of support are encouraged, up to three will be considered.

Nominators: Please include your name, mailing address, email address, and phone number.

E-mail the nomination to IS Miriam Dudley Award Chair, Mark Szarko, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), T: (617) 258-8022, E-mail: szarko@mit.edu.

Note: Nominees will be judged on an individual basis. This award cannot be given to a pair or group of individuals.

Submission Deadline: Friday, December 4, 2015

Posted in news | Leave a comment

Call for Proposals: ACRL IS Current Issues Virtual Discussion Forum

The IS Current Issues Virtual Discussion Forum is an excellent opportunity for instruction librarians to explore and discuss topics related to library instruction and information literacy. The steering committee welcomes proposals from individuals who are interested in convening this discussion online after the 2016 ALA Midwinter Meeting (mid-to-late January).

If you would like to share your knowledge, help your peers learn from one another, and spark a lively conversation, submit a proposal to lead the IS Current Issues Virtual Discussion Forum today. Multiple proposals are accepted.

Application Deadline: October 16, 2015

To submit a proposal, please use the online submission form.

Applicants will be notified by November 6, 2015

For more information, view the digests of past discussions online.


Contact the ACRL IS Discussion Group Steering Committee Chair, Nancy Fawley (nfawley@uvm.edu), or Vice-Chair, Kathy Magarrell (kathy-magarrell@uiowa.edu).


Posted in news | Leave a comment

Advance your career! Advance your profession! Join the ACRL/IS Mentoring Program!

Do you want to share your professional library instruction experience? Do you want to lead and build a relationship with a new colleague? Feel the need for some professional mentoring? Do you feel you need to develop your library instruction skills, methods, and resources more fully? Then consider becoming a mentor or mentee for the 2015-2016 ACRL/IS Mentoring Program!

The purpose of the ACRL Instruction Section Mentoring Program is to contribute to the professional development of academic librarians who teach information literacy by pairing librarians experienced in teaching with librarians new to instruction or to the Instruction Section. Mentors should have a passion for instruction and experience in this field. Mentees should be librarians seeking to improve their instruction skills and knowledge. In order to create mentor/mentee pairs by the beginning of the Fall Semester, we ask that you fill out our online application by September 15, 2015.

ACRL and Instruction Section membership are required to apply.
Mentor applicants, please use this form.
Mentees, please use this form.

This program creates a forum for learning opportunities, networking, and the exchange of ideas between paired mentors and mentees about instruction and information literacy.Conference attendance is not required. In fact, much of the mentoring takes place outside of scheduled conferences. You can advance your expertise and help the profession into the future by joining the ACRL/IS Mentoring Program. Please apply!

If you have questions about the ACRL Instruction Section Mentoring Program, please contact the Committee Chair, Kelly Diamond (Kelly.Diamond@mail.wvu.edu), or visit the IS Mentoring Program for more information.

Complete URLs:

Posted in mentoring, news | Leave a comment

IS Seeks Liaison to the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience

The ACRL Instruction Section (IS) is currently seeking applications to serve a three-year term (through July 2018) as the ACRL liaison to the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience.  Liaisons are responsible for outreach, education, and communication between the National Resource Center and ACRL in order to form strong relationships and advance the interests of ACRL and IS.

About the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience

The National Resource Center’s mission reads: “Building upon its history of excellence as the founder and leader of the first-year experience movement, the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition serves education professionals by supporting and advancing efforts to improve student learning and transitions into and through higher education. We achieve this mission by providing opportunities for the exchange of practical and scholarly information as well as the discussion of trends and issues in our field through the convening of conferences and other professional development events such as institutes, workshops, and online learning opportunities; publication of scholarly practice books, research reports, a peer-reviewed journal, electronic newsletters, and guides; generating, supporting, and disseminating research and scholarship; hosting visiting scholars; and maintaining several online channels for resource sharing and communication, including a dynamic website, listservs, and social media outlets.”  For more information about the organization, please visit http://www.sc.edu/fye/ or contact the previous liaison Anne-Marie Deitering (anne-marie.deitering@oregonstate.edu).

Deadline for Applications

September 18

Submission Requirements

Nominees must submit:

  • A letter of application articulating qualifications to Mark Szarko, IS Past Chair-Person (szarko@mit.edu)
  • A current vita


  • Liaison attends the Annual Conference on the First Year Experience (organized by the National Resource Center), which takes place in February.
  • Attendance at ALA Midwinter or Annual Conferences is optional.
  • Liaison must be willing to advocate for the importance of school and academic libraries in student learning and successful transitions.
  • Liaison should effectively share information about ACRL strategic initiatives and agendas to the NRCFYE.
  • Liaison will regularly report back to ACRL and the Instruction Section about upcoming NRCFYE events and initiatives.



  • Current member of IS and ACRL
  • Experience working with first year students
  • Demonstrated interest in quantitative research in higher education
  • Interest in coordinating activities to increase interaction between the National Resource Center, ACRL, and IS
  • Financial support to attend the Annual Conference on the First Year Experience for the length of the three-year term if not funded by ACRL (Note:  Liaison may apply for up to $1500 in conference funding from the Liaison Grants Committee, but funding is not guaranteed)
  • Experience with or interest in outreach and advocacy to campus stakeholders engaged in the first-year experience movement
  • Excellent communication skills


  • Record of serving IS and/or ACRL on committees, task forces, etc.
  • Advanced degree or credential in teaching
  • Experience conducting research on the first-year experience

If you have any questions about the process, please contact IS Past Chair-Person Mark Szarko at szarko@mit.edu.

Posted in news | Leave a comment

IS Current Issues Discussion Group @ ALA Annual 2015

Where to Begin? Advice to Instruction Librarians for Building Strong Relationships With Faculty

Saturday, June 27th
4:30pm – 5:30pm
MCC 200-212

Discussion Convener: Amy Wainwright, Outreach and Student Engagement Librarian, John Carroll University

Building strong relationships with faculty is an important first step to creating a healthy and flourishing instruction program at your library. This discussion hopes to address many of the current issues and roadblocks associated with developing these partnerships and introduce communication building strategies and reflective teaching methods that will empower librarians to construct more robust instruction programs on their campuses.

For more information, and recommended readings, review the discussion digest.

Posted in ala-annual, Discussion Group Steering, events, news, pedagogy, professional-development | Leave a comment

Preconference Workshop @ ALA Annual 2015

The Instruction Section is sponsoring a pre-conference workshop at ALA Annual, for the first time in many years. See below for details and visit thewebsite for additional information.

Reflective Teaching: Self-evaluation to assess and improve your teaching practice

Friday, June 26, 1-4 pm

Workshop leaders: Wendy Holliday and Anne-Marie Deitering

Reflection is a central component of effective teaching practice and successful student learning. But reflection can sometimes seem fuzzy, without purpose, and lack connection to larger program goals. In this three-hour workshop, participants will learn techniques and strategies for more structured and intentional reflection. Participants will learn how to identify, articulate, and diagnose teaching and learning “problems” that they encounter in the classroom, analyze their role as a teacher in that situation, and then apply techniques of reflective practice to address those learning problems and improve student learning. Participants will also explore collaborative reflective practices in order to build reflective practice into their instruction programs.


Posted in ala-annual, events, news, pedagogy, professional-development | Leave a comment