Monday, May 12, 2008

Article Note: On Syllabi of Library Skills Classes for Credit

Citation for the article:

Hrycaj, Paul L. "An Analysis of Online Syllabi for Credit-Bearing Library Skills Courses." College and Research Libraries 67.6 (November 2006): 525-535.

Read via WilsonWeb

This is a short article reporting on a study of 100 syllabi. The author found the syllabi using Google. The author does acknowledge that his sample may be smaller because Google would not be able to find everything; for example, Google would not find syllabi locked in course management sites. He looked at the syllabi to see how well they met the ACRL Standards for Information Literacy. The author looked primarily at the content of the syllabi.

He found that issues of information access are the dominant subject of these courses. These are areas where librarians do well as opposed to areas such as critical thinking and logic, which some would argue are outside the scope of what librarians should do. That is something I would disagree with to an extent. While I don't expect to be teaching things like logic, the fact that we are called upon to teach how sources are evaluated and to make good choices when it comes to sources means that we are teaching critical thinking skills. The author writes that instructors of these classes "are concerned about more than just information access and types of information sources" (530). Then again, I am a librarian who favors collaborations with other academic faculty, including embedded librarians in classes. That would provide the opportunity for librarians to be more active in the educational mission of the university. Not that they are not active now, but I am thinking in terms of nurturing good information literacy skills.

The author ends with a call for other areas of research: "But surveys dealing with instruction content and teaching methods administered to instructors of stand-alone library skills courses, as well as instructors involved in collaborations with discipline faculty, would be very welcome for throwing even more light on this subject" (533). So as you see, there is still work to be done.

The article features an appendix listing required textbooks from the syllabi.

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