Libraries are for Use

Demonstrating the value of librarianship

Limitations of the “one-shot” instruction session


When I read the abstract of the article by J. Bryan and E. Karshmer in C&RL on “Assessment of the ‘one-shot’ session,” I admit I had rather low expectations.  I was prepared to read yet another article about the developing a typical pre- & post-test for your typical, run-of-the-mill library session for undergrads.  I must say, I was very pleasantly surprised by the thoroughness of and innovation of their work.  The literature review was very well written, including methods used, what was learned, and even critiques of the articles reviewed.  The articles were carefully selected to be relevant to the program and its assessment; after all, only systematic reviews need to be comprehensive.  I find that most lit reviews merely list a series of papers that simply describe what was done.  There is not usually an attempt to explain the results of the studies reviewed, nor to tie the papers together into a coherent background for the study at hand.

The article also described with unusual detail the instructional program that was developed so well as to all be guarantee ability to duplicate results.  With a focus on the assessment, you would not expect so much information to be provided about the program that was being assessed.  But too often, this information is glossed over; conversely, articles focusing on the program will gloss over any assessment.  This article provided appropriate coverage of both.  I found the authors’ inclusion of non-textual learning to be based on sound evidence and a good theoretical foundation of how learning happens.

The statistical methods were generally appropriate with one exception: what are N’s?  The authors provided no indication of the number of tests they scored and analyzed.  They mention that there were 27 sections for the course, but they do not indicate how many were in the final analysis, particularly how many per tier – control and experimental.  This is very important when reading and critically thinking about such studies; frankly, I’m a little surprised this got past the reviewers & editors.

But that aside, assuming the authors had enough to produce valid results, the study appeared well-organized, based on sound evidence and a critical review of previous work, and the information is presented to the reader clearly and thoroughly.  It is clear that one-shot sessions, no matter how well planned and executed, are insufficient to instill the necessary concepts and skills of information literacy in first-year students.  I think we librarians, and teaching faculty even more so, underestimate the complexity of information literacy and critical thinking skills (they go hand-in-hand) are for students who have been educated in the No Child Left Behind era of education.

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This entry was posted on November 15, 2013 by in Academic Libraries, Assessment, Information Literacy, LIS Research.
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