Library Research Instruction Enhances Undergraduate Learning

The Ball State University Libraries’ Instructional Services Program offers unique, research instruction sessions to faculty members wishing to include information fluency skills in their courses.

Faculty and librarians work together in an academic partnership to implement interactive, hands-on learning experience to help students become smart information consumers. These sessions enhance the undergraduate educational experience by improving students’ research skills and giving them a personal connection to an information expert who can help with their library research questions to support students’ academic achievements and goals.

During the 2010-2011 academic year, Instructional Services librarians taught 607 research instruction classes to undergraduate students. These sessions were integrated into introductory composition courses, as well as courses in nursing, business, sociology, history, education, and other subject areas.

Feedback from faculty members is consistently positive. “It was fantastic! The students commented that it was very valuable to them. We plan on making this a part of our course” says Angela R. Cox of Ball State’s School of Nursing.

The sessions are planned collaboratively with the course instructor. They are tailored to the specific research needs of the students and are aimed at helping students successfully complete research assignments for their courses. The students learn about the process of research, how to find scholarly information, how to evaluate information found on the Internet, and how to think critically about information in all its formats. These information fluency skills then allow students to begin to take part in scholarly and professional conversations within their chosen field of study.

Another way research instruction sessions enhance the undergraduate experience is by introducing students to the librarians available to help them with projects and papers. After the class sessions, librarians often receive requests from students for additional help throughout the research project and the course. During the individual appointment time, the librarian assists the student with research in his or her area of interest one-on-one, building on the skills learned in the class session. “The connections that students make with the librarians help them to feel comfortable asking us for help for projects in other classes as well” says Lisa Jarrell, Instructional Services Librarian.
Library research instruction is an important and valuable component of the undergraduate educational experience. When it is integrated into courses, it becomes an important tool to aid students in efficiently and effectively locating resources and evaluating their appropriateness and value. In the short term, this understanding leads to better information integrated into research papers and projects. In the long term, these skills create citizens and workers who can negotiate their way through the large variety of information resources available in computer networks and databases that have put an unprecedented volume of convenient and significant information at our fingertips.

Ball State faculty who are interested in scheduling a custom-made research instruction session for their courses may do so online at

For more information, contact Lisa J. Jarrell, Instructional Services Librarian. ◙

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