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Top 5 Articles: Big Ideas for the New School Year

Compiled and annotated by Kim Wobick and Erica Getts, members of the DLS Research and Publications Committee.

Start off the new school year with a tasting of readings that may inspire you to try something new in your classroom! 

Giannetti, F. (2017). Against the grain: Reading for the challenges of collaborative digital humanities pedagogy. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 24(2-4), 257-269.


The author reviewed literature revolving around digital humanities pedagogy and faculty-librarian collaborations, reflecting on the challenge of this work and “lessons learned” through practice. The primary challenges highlighted in the literature included the relationship dynamics between the faculty member and librarian, which can be strained due to the humanities cultural viewpoint that individual work is more credible than collaborative. Active communication and planning can help aid in the development of a class exercise that is enriching. Another challenge presented is the technical expectations that faculty may have of their students and a misunderstanding of the amount of labor needed on the part of the librarian to confer knowledge of the technology used.  It is difficult to both teach technology, as well as provide an exercise for the student to demonstrate a critical understanding of the implications of the use and outcomes of the technology. Giannetti discusses that one should keep the complexity of the work required by a student to use the technology to a minimum and allow a deeper focus on reflection of the work product and outcomes.


Working in collaboration with faculty in digital humanities spaces is a great opportunity for both faculty and librarian to experiment with new tools, take risks in challenging students, and add to their own knowledge and practice. In a totally online environment, there may be even more challenges, and not every collaboration will be successful. What is important in teaching digital technology in an online environment is to leave space for communication with participants, having the faculty member present in any session, and view the sessions as sincere learning experience to enhance learning and increase the knowledge of all involved.

Goates, M. C., Nelson, G. M., & Frost, M. (2017). Search strategy development in a flipped library classroom: A student-focused assessment. College & Research Libraries, 78(3), 382–395. https://doi.org/10.5860/crl.78.3.382


When students do an assignment before attending a class, such as watching a recorded lecture or completing a tutorial, so they are ready to complete a task in class (what we used to think of as homework), that is known as a flipped class. A major advantage to flipping a class is that it gives  the instructor the ability to answer questions and help students along the way. This article focuses on a study completed by the authors where students in flipped library sessions complete an online tutorial before attending class and their scores on the in class assignment are compared against students in a typical lecture session to see if students in a flipped session improve better than students in a typical lecture session.


The results of the study showed that students in the typical lecture session did better developing a search strategy than those students in the flipped class. This was attributed to a variety of factors such as how recently students had watched the video before attending the class, the amount of attention they actually paid while viewing the tutorial, the type of materials being taught, and the fact that it was a one-shot where students were not receiving a grade based on their performance. Ultimately, each instructor should consider these factors and more to determine if a flipped class is appropriate for what they are teaching.

Gruber, A. M. (2018). Real-World Research: A Qualitative Study of Faculty Perceptions of the Library’s Role in Service-Learning. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 18(4), 671-692.


The author conducted a survey of faculty at Northern Iowa University who incorporated a service-learning (SL) element into their courses, specifically examining the perceptions that faculty held of the library’s role in SL courses. Literature has described that while faculty have incorporated library information literacy (IL) sessions into a non-SL course, they have not considered how librarians can contribute to the objectives of a SL course. The main themes of the survey were reported to be a lack of faculty awareness of library services and librarian’s skills, as well as perceiving the lack of time to incorporate an instruction session into an SL course. Faculty also perceived the quality of student research skills to be lacking, specifically in SL course research. Additionally, faculty may not realize that librarians are enabled to teach about non-scholarly sources as well as scholarly, and how experience in a SL course can be enhanced with research and students learning critical thinking skills.


As more online programs incorporate service learning into their curriculum, library instruction in a SL course will be important for libraries to do in order to demonstrate their partnership in developing student’s lifelong skills. Many of the same barriers that prevent faculty from including IL into a regular course are apparent in SL courses. Librarians are encouraged to involve faculty and academic departments to engage IL across an entire program. Conducting IL instruction in the digital classroom space may help both faculty and students make research connections to SL. 

Moran, C., & Mulvihill, R. (2016). Finding the balance in online library instruction: Sustainable and personal. Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning, 11(1–2), 13–24. https://doi.org/10.1080/1533290X.2016.1223964


This paper presents five examples of instructional efforts designed to create a sustainable library presence in courses when the librarian to student ratio is disproportionate. This article gives practical tips on implementing each effort while weighing the pros and cons as experienced by the librarians at the University of Central Florida (UCF), a large public university. The authors of this paper, Moran and Mulvihill, present 3 tested and 2 untested methods. Before discussing their instructional methods, they make the point that what is sustainable, because budgets often constrict librarian availability, may not be what makes the library approachable. Scalable efforts include things like asynchronous library tutorials and other learning objects, which the student interacts with through their Learning Management System (LMS). The first method presented involves creating a series of tutorials that were designed to be embedded into courses. While these modules were heavily used by faculty, the faculty found the processes for embedding them confusing, there was no mediation from the library, librarians didn’t have access to students scores on the modules, and updating the modules was difficult to time in order not to interrupt students currently taking them. The next method they implemented was creating a course in the LMS that students in specific introductory course would automatically be enrolled in. This method allowed the librarians to monitor scores and had a ⅔ completion rate during its inaugural Fall semester, but if an instructor wanted to factor in student grades they had to manually import them into their course and using the scores was not mandated. The third method tested was being embedded as an instructor in a course. While this method had great outcomes, including relationship building among teaching faculty, it required 7 different librarians being embedded for 1 course. The 2 untested methods involve moving away from a multiple choice assessment to an assignment graded via a rubric and taking advantage of LibGuides LTI Tool in the LMS. 


In their experience, being personally embedded in a course has the best outcomes, but is not sustainable when librarian to student ratios are not aligned. Using technology to embed library content at point of need within a course’s LMS is a highly sustainable and effective method, even if it lacks the personalized touch.

Rensburg, E. S. J. V. (2018). Effective online teaching and learning practices for undergraduate health sciences students: An integrative review. International Journal of Africa Nursing Sciences, 9, 73–80. doi: 10.1016/j.ijans.2018.08.004


This article is targeted to health sciences educators, but contains much information that librarians who are working with students living in a country outside of where their institution is located would find useful. Online education has become an option for students all over the globe, increasing access to education and flexibility of the learning experience. The author included a total of 42 articles in an integrative review that highlighted both positive outcomes and challenges that occur for both students and educators in an online learning environment. Positive outcomes reported include increased student satisfaction and motivation, along with enhanced problem solving and computer literacy skills. Among the challenges reported were issues with technology for both students and educators, including unstable internet connections. There may also be the challenge of having limited computer literacy, negative experiences with other students in a course, and experiencing information overload. 


The opportunity for librarians is to incorporate knowledge of both the positive outcomes and challenges of the online student through trying different methods of teaching and recognition of the varied levels of technological expertise. Incorporating positive practices and feedback into a session will help the student’s learning capacity and experience, as will having the instructor for the course attending online library instruction sessions.

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