Library instruction sessions can be boooooring! Unless students feel the urge, pun intended, to pay attention (paper due, a strict course instructor is watching, the librarian is rolling their eyes, or all of the above), 80 minutes can fly away quickly, with zero impact. Time wasted, for all parties.
Nothing new under the sun, not to professors in higher education, who do their best to engage students with generation-appropriate class activities, even games. This post highlights a short, but rewarding class exercise, which provided a meaningful learning experience for students and resulted in peer-to-peer book recommendations from the Rutgers collection, preserved for posterity in exhibits.
Check out our latest online display: the Fall 2022 poster gallery, selected from over 200 miniposters submitted by first-year Rutgers students taking the SEBS Academic Mentoring course offered by the SEBS Office of Academic Programs in Fall 2022. Taught by volunteer instructors, among them many deans and program directors at SEBS, this course aims to assist first-generation college students to navigate the maze of academia during their most difficult semester.
The course syllabus includes on-site visits to venues where students will spend their time between classes, among them a library. The session in Douglass Library features a brief tour on the way to the classroom, checking out potential spots to study or chill, a short demo of resources available at Rutgers University Libraries, including QuickSearch and the new mobile app, a fun Kahoot game with prizes, and a feedback question to be submitted on decommissioned catalog cards on their way out of the classroom.
The class activity at the end of the session is designed for students to put what they learned that day into practice by creating a book poster, based on a print title they locate in the library collection. A librarian can immediately spot the learning outcomes: searching for a known item, filtering resource types, locating a book in the catalog, verifying availability in Rutgers libraries, finding the call number and generating a citation; i.e., gathering information as first step.
The second step is to create the actual poster with the help of pre-fabricated templates in powerpoint, as slides are easy to edit and convert to images for future exhibits. Full disclosure: graduate assistants always help clean up and convert the best posters before displaying them online or on site (currently in the Art Library, with posters flying off the shelves, and previously in Chang Library, see image on the bottom). Often coupled with thoughtful insights about the book or author, the broad variety of titles that SEBS students select in these sessions never stops to amaze librarians and instructors alike!
Learning by doing (aka experiential learning) is probably as old as intellectual curiosity. Incorporating hands-on activities in a lesson plan benefits both students and teachers across disciplines. Library sessions offer many options. This simple activity, which takes about 15 minutes to complete using the prompts in the guide, is fun, but also serves as a reality check for the students in the classroom. Asked to use immediately what they learned, they often admit (to themselves or even to the instructors) that they were not paying attention, a bonus lesson learned for future classes.
The sessions indicate that first generation college students appreciate the library as a place with its different floors and areas matching their study needs. Each year groups include a large number of commuters on the Cook/Douglass campus. Students are quite surprised to see how easy it is to use library resources and find what they need, or it’s no big deal to ask for help. Some are also surprised by the sheer number and variety of resources available for them, and the fact that everything is free. Many shy and quiet students have left the classroom visibly looking more comfortable in the library environment. Stay tuned for the results of the feedback cards!
The main goal of this library session was to introduce first-year students to the wealth of resources and opportunities at New Brunswick Libraries through a single library in a one-shot class. Less than half of the students had visited other libraries before the session, but many were excited to have the opportunity and promised to come back.
The message was clear: the library provides a welcoming environment to all. The miniposters with books recommended by students can be considered a bonus for all of us.
- Online Exhibit: Miniposters, Fall 2022
- Academic Mentoring LibGuide
- Poster Galleries: Miniposters (2018-2022)
- Poster exhibit in Art Library, from previous posters, curated by Megan Lotts, Fall 2022 (2018-2022)