How effective is user education?

This is something I shall be thinking about for my PGCert project, so I am just noting here the fact that I’m currently participating in a ResearchGate ‘conversation’ about the effectiveness of user education in Higher Education.  I will come back to this posting when I’ve a bit more time to write about it, but mentioning it now is my way of ensuring I don’t forget!

Here was the question, from Sophina Tambula, a researcher in Great Zimbabwe University:-

How effective is user education provided to students at academic libraries?

There is a problem that most academic library users after introduced to the library and educated about the library use and services the library offers among other things, but still they find it difficult to use the library. What really might be the cause?

My response last week was this (I suspect you have to have signed up to ResearchGate to be able to follow the whole discussion):-

Can I (modestly) reference a paper I wrote last year?  Library Review Vol.64, Iss.1/2, (2015), 154-161, ‘Sexy Bibliography (and Revealing Paratext)’
I have also blogged about library user education as part of my studies for a postgraduate certificate in teaching and learning in higher education and I am continuing this study in a project for submission next year.
Can I briefly make a few points here?
Firstly, we’re not teaching new undergraduates “library science”. They just want to know where to get started in the library.  Don’t start by trying to turn them into mini-librarians!
Secondly, students learn best at the time of need.  So we provide regular training working in collaboration with teaching staff, and with one eye on the teaching and submission schedules.  If students have their first essay coming up, they will be more motivated to listen and learn from us!
Thirdly, make the teaching relevant.  They are going to write about Prokofiev? Find examples of electronic resources that you have ensured WILL FIND appropriate information on Prokofiev!
Lastly, flip the classroom.  Embrace good pedagogical practice and involve the students rather than lecturing them. Ask what they think/recommend.  Build on what they know (This is called a “constructivist approach”)  Use multimedia to engage.  I could go on, but maybe I’d better stop for now!

How effective is user education provided to students at academic libraries? – ResearchGate. Available from: [accessed Jun 22, 2016].

Something I keep coming back to is this: Pedagogues talk about pedagogy (how to teach, theory of teaching), but librarians tend to stop at what to teach.  This approach will not make us good teachers!  To be continued …


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