Primo Site of the Month Interview: October 2022

Source Types and Credibility

Interviewee: Natalie Haber
Institution: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Interviewer:  Rebecca Maniates

Description (Creator Provided): The intent of this tutorial is to give an overview of source types typically found when doing research for an introductory composition course, define credibility and bias, give strategies for evaluating sources, and allow students to practice those skills on three sources. Most questions are open-answer, which allows students to do some critical thinking and explain their thoughts in sentences. The tutorial is meant to be graded or reviewed by the librarian, so that the students and the course instructor can have feedback on how they did. This tutorial is part of a set curriculum for undergraduate composition students. First, students take this Source Types and Credibility tutorial, which is followed up either by a face-to-face class or additional online tutorials that are aimed at teaching search strategy and tools.

Q: What inspired the creation of the Source Types and Credibility tutorial?

A: The creation of this tutorial was driven by a general education course, Rhetoric and Composition, which has a built-in information literacy learning outcome. The library has historically partnered with the instructors of that course to help teach the information literacy and library research component of the course. This was originally built for the fully online version of this course, but we are now utilizing it as a pre-class assignment for the sections we teach face-to-face as well.

Q: Tell us more about the team of people who helped create the tutorial and their individual roles.

A: This was a great team effort! Five librarians work on our Research and Instruction team, Lane Wilkinson, Virginia Cairns, Chapel Cowden, Dunstan McNutt, and myself, Natalie Haber. We worked together on the slides that make up the first video and tried to take into account everyone’s individual ways of explaining different source types and how they might function within research. We also worked collaboratively to make decisions about which questions give feedback, which are open-ended, and the language of the questions themselves. I took the lead on making changes to the tutorial, but it really was a group effort in design, language choice, and even which sources to use for evaluation practice.

Q: Who is the intended audience, and what is the primary intended use of the Source Types and Credibility tutorial? Is it only integrated into ENGL 1020?  What about other classes, workshops, assignments, etc.?

A: The intended audience is very much first and second year undergraduate students who are allowed to use a variety of source types for an academic paper. Currently, we only have this in our ENGL 1020 courses, either as part of a series of tutorials for online students, or as a pre-class assignment for classes that also come in for face-to-face library instruction.

Q: Can you share more about how librarians review or grade student responses?  Does this module and students’ responses tie in with in-class instruction?

A: Currently, librarian grading is driven by faculty request. Our tutorial gives students a certificate of completion upon submission which they upload into their Canvas page for credit. If a course instructor requests individual grading, we can set that up and grade student responses based on whatever point value the professor wants.  However, most of our instructors prefer to have students simply get credit for completing it. During face-to-face instruction, we build upon the skills students learned in the tutorials. Most professors set up their course calendar so that students do the Source Types & Credibility tutorial, then they come into the library and learn search strategies and tools (or take additional tutorials online), and then they follow with an assignment that requires them to find and write annotations for at least two sources.

Q: Please tell me a little bit about the development process overall.  Were there any best practices, design frameworks, and/or accessibility guidelines you tried to follow while creating this module?

A: We did our best to incorporate universal design principles as we built this tutorial, as well as accessibility best practices. All video content has captions, and we did our best to try to provide additional formats that give similar information. 

Q: We’ve seen more tutorials created using LibWizard in recent years.  Can you share more about your choice in using this particular tool?

A: Several years ago, we got a trial for LibWizard and found that it meets our needs well for the tutorials we build and surveys we run. We like that it is easy to use and syncs well with our existing implementation of LibGuides. Now that we’ve built out so much in there (we have around 50 tutorials in LibWizard), it would be difficult for us to pivot to a different software without much discussion. 

Q: From planning to launch, how long did it take to complete the project? Was it more or less time than you originally planned?

A: This is just our latest iteration of this tutorial; since about 2015 we’ve had something like this to support this course. I’d say the work of the newest version (from new video, to reworked source samples and language choices for the questions) wasn’t more than a few hours of group think, and maybe a few hours of recording and editing. It took just as much time as planned. 

Q: Did you encounter any difficulties or unexpected challenges along the way?  What have you learned from the development process that you will carry over into the next tutorial?

A: One thing we saw a little bit of when we did an assessment of this tutorial was that sometimes students swapped 1 and 5 when evaluating a source on a scale for credibility and bias. You can never be too careful in your wording of questions, sometimes it can change how students answer completely!

Q: Did you assess the effectiveness of the module in meeting your established objectives/goals?  How have students (and faculty) responded to this tutorial?

A: Yes, we assess in a number of different ways.  Often, our librarians scan through student responses prior to teaching a face-to-face class, just to see a glimpse into how students have done and where there might be problems to address in class. I’ve also gone more in-depth and done a full textual analysis on student source evaluations. Both approaches allow us to see how students are learning and what might be sticking points for them. So far, both students and faculty have responded favorably to the tutorial. We ask students to do some reflection at the end of the tutorial about what they learned and what was a repeat, and often the students respond thoughtfully and state at least a few things that the tutorial taught them.

Q: We appreciate that you offer this a CC-BY license.  Do you know if any other libraries have adopted this content?

A: I’m not sure. I get emails occasionally asking to borrow content, but perhaps not for this tutorial since it is a bit buried within a course page.

Q: How do you promote the Source Types and Credibility tutorial – and other Research and Instruction Tutorials to the University community?  

A: For this specific tutorial, it is shared directly with faculty in that course via Canvas assignment (we send it to each faculty that we work with). Our other tutorials live on our Help page under Tutorials on the website. I’d say the primary driver of traffic on tutorials is assignment based, where we create tutorials geared towards specific assignments and partner with faculty to get them in front of students. 

Q: What’s next? Do you have any plans to expand or modify this tutorial, or create other instructional materials like this?

A: This summer, we will take a good look at the results from the year and make adjustments to the content in any areas where it seems like students are struggling. Each summer, we review and reiterate the content for this course.