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Tips for Creating Effective Library Instruction Sessions

Tips for effective sessions

The Boston College Instructional Librarians are committed to assisting students in locating and identifying information in a global environment and partnering with faculty to offer expertise in the the discovery, creation, and transmission of knowledge.  This page provides some helpful tips on designing effective library collaborations and assignments.

Be clear about the assignment-  Many students have a limited knowledge of how to do research and/or use a research library.  Be clear about the specifics of the assignment (length, citation format, sources)  define any terminology that may be confusing, such as “peer-reviewed” or “scholarly article”.  In addition, be clear about the types of resources students should be using in their research.

Scaffold the steps in the research process- Breaking a larger assignment into smaller manageable steps is helpful to students.  Take time to discuss a focus on the research question, reframing a research question, time management and effective information seeking strategies.  If time allows, spend time discussing the importance of evaluating sources.

Discuss plagiarism- Discuss academic integrity and the importance of doing honest academic research and writing.  Define for students how to attribute sources through proper citation.  The library offers citation sessions each semester that are open to all students. See the calendar for upcoming workshops.

Collaborate with Instructional Librarians- Each subject area at Boston College is assigned a subject liaison librarian.  The librarians are subject specialists and can assist you in designing effective research assignments that will help students develop the skills necessary to locate and evaluate information as well as introduce the students to relevant subject specific resources. 

Test Your Assignment- Try out your assignment yourself to make sure that your students will understand how to find the necessary resources and to verify that the sources in question are readily available. Librarians can assist you in locating additional resources if necessary. 

Schedule a library class session- Librarians  are available to come to your class or book a class in a library classroom to go over subject specific resources, information seeking tips and strategies, how to cite, and many other related topics.  It may also be helpful to alert your subject liaison to student assignments so that your subject liaison can assist students individually if needed. 

Communicate Feedback- Instructional Librarians are interested in hearing from you about what worked and what did not.  Where would you like more focus in the future? What was your assessment of the overall experience students had completing the paper or assignment? Your feedback helps strengthen the library instructional program.