Home » Top 5 Articles » Top 5 Articles on Teaching and Learning, January – March 2018


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Top 5 Articles on Teaching and Learning, January – March 2018

Compiled and annotated by Hui-Fen Chang and Beth Tumbleson.

Abrizah, A., I., Samaila, & Afiqah-Izzati, N. (2016). Systematic literature review informing LIS professionals on embedding librarianship roles. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 42(6), 636–643. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2016.08.010

The authors presented a systematic literature review of LIS literature on the roles of embedded librarianship.  Fifty-six articles were selected for review.  A significant proportion of the literature reported embedded librarians’ experiences in distance and online learning, including offering access to electronic resources and virtual reference services, conducting online information literacy instruction, monitoring a discussion board, among other services. Embedded librarians also played an important role in information literacy instruction, in particular, the librarians’ partnership with academic departments to design writing assignments.  Several papers reported academic librarians serving as collaborators with the academic faculty on research projects.


This paper offers an excellent reference list of selected articles on embedded librarianship. The various roles reported in this paper offer valuable insights to inform practicing academic librarians who are considering embedding practices. This paper also serves as an example of using a systemic literature review as a method in analyzing LIS literature, and thus is recommended to those who are interested in using the same method to conduct a literature review.


Becnel, Kim, M., Robin A., & Pope, Jon C. (2016). Powerful Partnerships: The worth of embedding masters level library science students in undergraduate classes. Journal of Education for Library & Information Science57(1), 31-42. doi:10.12783/issn.2328-2967/57/1/3

All three authors teach at Appalachian State University, NC and were involved in a teaching and learning LMS embedded librarianship project. Online library science graduate students, preparing to be school media specialists or public librarians, embedded in undergraduate composition classes in Moodle for six weeks.  During that time, they provided reference and information literacy instruction to five students each.  Composition undergraduates needed six to eight sources for an essay assignment, while the LIS students needed to build 2 bibliographic instruction tools and provide reference services.  The LIS students gained real-world experience while the control group of graduate students relied on role play.


The collaborative project and experiential learning was a win-win.  It provided insights into the role of librarian and the nuances of the reference interview for the experiential LIS students.  The online embedded librarian students experienced tension between supporting and overly controlling the undergraduates who were researching and writing.  The control group felt more successful, working in a safer, simulated environment.   The authentic project revealed how complicated and unpredictable the relationship can be between librarian and student.  Students may or may not avail themselves of librarian services.  This hard-won knowledge and altered expectations are valuable, even if LIS graduate students have mixed feelings upon reflection of the project.


Catalano, A. (2015). The effect of a situated learning environment in a distance education information literacy course. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41(5), 653-659. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2015.06.008

Catalano’s paper reported an experimental study that investigated the efficacy of a situated learning approach for facilitating transfer in a distance education library research course.  A situated learning environment includes elements of expert modeling, scaffolding, authentic activity, and problem-based assignments. The author differentiated near and far transfer.  Near transfer occurs when the knowledge that the students learned in the classroom becomes automatic and is applicable with little difficulty to a new yet similar situation.  Far transfer is more difficult to achieve, referring to deliberate transfer and application of knowledge to a new situation.  This study compared the differences in performance on information-evaluation assessments between the treatment group (i.e. students receive instruction in the situated condition) and control group (i.e. students receive traditional instruction without the four elements of situated learning). Data analysis revealed that the situated learning was proven a significant predictor of far transfer of knowledge to new/real-world situations.


Situated learning and knowledge transfer are two topics in education and educational psychology which are not much discussed in LIS literature and practice. This study is one of the few experimental studies that not only addresses these topics in information literacy instruction, but also demonstrates the effect of situated learning for knowledge transfer in IL instruction.  Another takeaway is the research design of this empirical study, in particular the design of the instructional treatment condition. It offers instructional librarians and designers ideas and inspiration of how they can go about designing and implementing situated learning in IL instruction.


Mullins, K. (2016). IDEA model from theory to practice: Integrating information literacy in academic courses. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 42(1), 55-64. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2015.10.008

The author used IDEA, an instructional design model, to integrate information literacy in a case study of three blended doctoral education courses, meeting online and face-to-face.  An alternative model to ADDIE, IDEA includes four phases:  interview, design, embed, and assess.  It supports the Framework.  The theoretical model was implemented in practical steps which relied on faculty-librarian collaboration.  The librarian offered support to graduate students writing a research paper with 20 current sources, provided database permalinks for required course content, and offered virtual and face-to-face reference services.  The on-going embedded librarian supported adult learners of varying abilities, searching education databases, writing a literature review, and citing sources in American Psychological Association style.  The librarian highlighted important course content by placing supporting information in a linked guide.  The librarian organized course material from simple to more complex research tasks and interacted with students using the LMS tools:  email, announcements, and discussion.  Finally, the librarian assessed the pilot via an instructor interview and student survey.


Because today’s librarians play a greater instructional role, the IDEA model is worthwhile.  The author plans to continue using IDEA in other course settings to integrate information literacy in more courses. Because it can be time-consuming, however, course selection should be based on:  frequently offered courses, significant research assignment, motivated faculty, time to develop, reasonable class size, and required virtual support.


Pautz, Michelle C. & Gauder, H. (2017). Undergraduate research needs: Faculty-librarian collaboration to improve information literacy in policy papers. Journal of Public Affairs Education23(4), 1017-1030.

The authors analyzed two sets of environmental policy papers’ citations, written by upper division students, working in groups, from two semesters, 2013 and 2015.  Their citation analysis demonstrates that faculty-librarian collaboration results in students’ using better source types, more sources, and achieving greater learning.  Students were assigned to write a white paper and present their findings in a mock congressional hearing.  Originally students authored their own papers.  In the second semester, students worked in groups.  The librarian met with students in workshop sessions during class, offered research consultations, and created a LibGuide on stakeholder organizations.  The authors found citations doubled from the first to the second semester.  Students incorporated federal government data, press releases, advocacy papers from nonprofits, trade publications, but preferred study summaries rather than read academic journal studies.


In future an annotated bibliography assignment will be added to scaffold the project.  Students began to appreciate library resources over googling.  They learned how to find congressional documents and how to evaluate sources’ credibility.  The faculty-librarian collaboration resulted in better student policy papers.  Beyond citation analysis, pre and post tests and one minute papers will be added to shed light on students’ development of information literacy.

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