Faculty–Librarian Collaboration to Teach Information Literacy in an Online Environment

Published in:

A National Symposium

November 20–21, 2009

Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College
Atlanta, Georgia

The development of information literacy has become an essential curricular goal in undergraduate education regardless of major or instructional delivery format. This article discusses a case study where a college librarian and a faculty member, in the speech pathology and audiology program, collaborated to teach information literacy skills in an online course. They used screen casts of database searching techniques and other research skills to instruct students in a distance learning environment. The course itself emphasized discipline-specific research skills in speech pathology. The second half of the project assessed the effectiveness of the online tutorials used by the undergraduate students. The assessment results suggest that combining online tutorials with several types of class assignments will lead to student learning.

Teaching information literacy skills presents a challenge in undergraduate education. Students enter colleges and universities with diverse experiences and learning styles. Many appear over-confident in their information literacy skills because they are comfortable using popular search engines such as Google. The task is even more formidable in a distributed education course.

Literature Review

The faculty member decided to incorporate information literacy into a senior level undergraduate course, the Seminar in Speech Pathology and Audiology, for several reasons. In addition to an increased institutional focus on information literacy, a need to develop information literacy skills has been identified within the professions of speech-language pathology and audiology. According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), speech-language pathologists and audiologists should engage in evidence-based practice which involves “the integration of: (a) clinical expertise, (b) best current evidence, and (c) client values to provide high-quality services reflecting the interests, values, needs, and choices of the … individuals …” (American Speech-Language Hearing Association, 2009). Evidence-based practice relies on the ability to locate, evaluate, and apply information reported in scholarly sources about best clinical practices. A survey by Nail-Chiwetal & Bernstein Ratner (2007) revealed, however, that speech-language pathologists most frequently asked colleagues for information related to practice issues rather than utilize database searches or published jounals. Respondents reported lacking the knowledge and skill for finding relevant information. This trend reflects a gap in information literacy instruction in the profession and explicates why it has been emphasized in the curriculum of the current course. Information literacy skills are essential in order for students to succeed in graduate school and to become competent practitioners. They must be able to access information, review it critically, and apply it in practice.

Development of Library Online Tutorials

At Richard Stockton College, an information literacy needs assessment showed little or no library outreach to learners in distributed education (DE). However, faculty teaching DE courses listed their students’ abilities to perform research for assessing questions or solving problems to be of major concern to them (Gonsalves, 2008).

Attendance at a technology academy sparked the idea that screen captures may be used to convey library information to students. The librarian then set about developing tutorials made up of screen captures that replicate material covered in regularly provided information literacy instruction classes. The content for each video mirrored what was covered in a face-to-face class. For example, if the material covered techniques for constructing a search, the video would use Power Point slides with audible narration to show how to put an idea into a question, select search terms, develop synonyms, and delete stop words. To show a basic search, a live search in an appropriate database would be conducted with some information on printing and saving articles.

Best practices suggest that information is best retained if presented in small segments. Consequently, if material was found be more than six minutes long, it was divided into two videos. Multiple videos relating to the same database were organized into toolkits. A toolkit would comprise several videos covering search construction, basic search techniques for that particular database, advanced search techniques and preserving the results. After posting the videos to the library’s web page, (see Figure 1) the script for each video was also attached. The web link for the tutorials was also imported into the instructor’s Blackboard site for the course.

To increase interaction the chat function of Blackboard can be used to send questions to the course instructor or librarian.

An extensive literature review examined other uses of screen captures in pedagogical settings. Selected references appear at the end of this article.

Figure 1: Online Video Tutorials

From the Richard Stockton College Library web page:

Collaborative Project Planning

Before the spring 2009 semester, the authors met and identified the following student learning outcomes:

  1. Identify appropriate sources of evidence in an effective and efficient manner
  2. Critically evaluate information and its sources
  3. Be able to summarize articles read in professional literature
  4. Describe how research results relate to practice
  5. Synthesize findings from a variety of appropriate sources to produce a review of literature on a specific topic using APA format


Online videos developed by the librarian that supported the learning outcomes were then identified and integrated into the speech-language pathology and audiology course. Screen casting allowed for ongoing availability of information literacy instruction throughout course. Students were not required to attend in-person information literacy training sessions with the library faculty but were directed to view the tutorials as a course assignment and complete a critical evaluation of an assigned webpage. They were also directed to conduct a database search on a speech-language pathology topic and participate in an online discussion about information literacy skills. Since they could view the tutorials 24/7 via the course management software (Blackboard), they had greater control over time devoted to the assignment. Face-to-face sessions then focused on critical reading, professional writing and data interpretation.

Assessment Results

Both qualitative and quantitative measures were used to assess information literacy skills and knowledge of the 23 students enrolled in the speech-language pathology and audiology course.

No significant statistical difference was noted in the mean scores of the pre-test and post-test measures. An item analysis, however, did reveal gains in some of the skill areas. For example, at the beginning of the semester, none of the students could correctly identify one of the four major journals published by the American Speech Language Hearing Association. On the post-test six scored correctly on this item. Those who scored incorrectly on the item did not list the journal title accurately, but may have included key words from the article title.

Students were assigned a website to be evaluated based on accuracy, authority, scope, objectivity, currency and usability. The students posted their reviews in the online discussion on Blackboard. Students received a mean score of 58 on a scale of 60 points for adequately presenting the results of their evaluations.

In addition, students completed an online quiz as a follow-up to the content provided in the video tutorials. A mean score of 91.3% was obtained for the class. In addition, the mean score for the final paper was 91.4 out of 100 based on the rubric. Scores did range, however, from 55 to 100. On the portions of the rubric directly related to information literacy skills, students received a mean score of 28 out of 30 possible points.

The postings on the online discussion page suggested that students were unaware of many information literacy skills prior to instruction received in this course. For example, one student posted “(previously) for any paper I had to write I would look on the Internet and maybe use one book or encyclopedia. After viewing (the tutorial) I learned what types of sources are most appropriate and how to efficiently locate them.”


Screen casting is a means of providing ongoing instruction that can be reinforced throughout a class. It provides instruction in a multimedia format which makes it accessible for students with a variety of learning styles. Students can review the information multiple times at their own pace.

Screen casting appears to be an effective tool for information literacy instruction. The results discussed in the current study were based on the case of one senior level undergraduate class in speech-language pathology. Assessment of the knowledge and skills of a larger sample of students should be conducted. Based on preliminary results, it appears that authentic assessments provide more valuable information on student learning than do static assessments such as tests or surveys.

Information literacy has been identified as an essential goal in undergraduate education both by Middle States and by individual disciplines. Distance-learning students represent a population with diverse learning needs. Screen casting is an instructional method that allows students off-campus to receive quality instruction from a remote site. In the case of blended learning, screen casting allows for material to be presented in a multimodality format outside of scheduled class meetings. Screen casting offers flexibility for both students and instructors.


American Speech-Language Hearing Association. (2009). Introduction to evidence-based practice. Retrieved May 24, 2009, from ASHA: www.asha.org

Buck, S., Islam, R., & Syrkin, D. (2006). Collaboration for distance information literacy instruction: Do current trends reflect best practices? Journal of Library Administration. 45:63-79.

Clark J. & Qinghua, K. (2008). Captivate/Camtasia. Journal of the Medical Library Association. 96: 75-78.

Garrison, R., & Vaughan, H. (2008). Blended learning in higher education: Framework, principles and guidelines. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Gonsalves, S. (2008). IDEA Group Summary Reports: Some highlights. Evidence, program assessment for continuous improvement.

Jacob, N., & Heisel, A. P. (2008). A faculty-librarian partnership for investigative learning in the introductory biology library. Journal of College Science Teaching. 37: 54-59.

Kerns, S. (2007). Technological tools for library user education: One library’s experience. Medical Reference Services Quarterly. 26: 105-114.

Knight, L.A. (2006). Using rubrics to assess information literacy. Reference Services Review.34: 43-55.

Middle States Commission on Higher Education. (2003). Developing research & communication skills: Guidelines for information literacy in the curriculum. Philadelphia: Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Murley, D. (2007). Tools for creating video tutorial. Law Library Journal. 99: 857-861.

Nail-Chiwetalu, B. & Bernstein Ratner, N. (2007). An assessment of the information-seeking abilites and needs of practicing speech-language pathologists. Journal of the Medical Library Association. 95: 182-188.

Robertson, M., & Jones, J. G. (2009). Exploring academic library users’ preferences on delivery methods for library instruction: Webpage, digital game, and other modalities. Reference and User Services Quarterly. 48: 261-271.

Schnall, J., Jankowski, T., & St. Anna, L. (2005). Using Camtasia Studio© to enhance web instruction pages and tutorials. Journal of Hospital Librarianship. 5: 77-81.

Selvester, P., Mulholland, R., & Wong, P. (2006). Camtasia: A tool for universal design learning. College and University Media Review. 12: 9-17.

Tempelman-Kluit, N. (2006). Multimedia learning theories and online instruction. College & Research Libraries. 67: 364-369.

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Udell, J. (2005). Lights, Camera, Action! InfoWorld. 27(7): 26. Retrieved May 20, 2009, from Academic Search Complete database.

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