Monday, May 09, 2011

Pirate maps, tattoos, and flus: Using a problem-based format to teach information literacy skills

Kerri Shaffer Carter and Emily Buzicky, Westminster College
Friday, May 6, 2011
2011 LOEX Conference

Download the handout.

Problem-based learning (PBL) in library instruction is an attempt to provide instruction that more closely resembles the research process. In problem-based learning,“students are presented with an ‘ill-defined’ problem or issue ‘prompt.’ “Students work in groups to identify problem, research issue, and present a solution or hypothesis.”

Kerri Shaffer Carter and Emily Buzicky modeled the session after the problem-based format.
Session Timeline:
  1. Introduction to problem-based learning
  2. “Use scenarios and prompts to create a PBL lesson plan
  3. Sharing
  4. Debriefing (student reflection and instructor feedback)
During the session we had the opportunity to develop a PBL lesson plan. We were given a few sample scenarios and possible prompts. We were also given questions to consider, such as learning objectives, what foundational knowledge is required, and what resources will students be provided with. We developed the following rough lesson plan in about 20 minutes.
  • Class: Economics (non-business majors)
  • Time: 2 hours (I wish!!!)
  • Objective: Students will develop a research topic. Students will select the most appropriate research tools.
  • Prompt: Examine the Home Values Graph. What caused the various declines and inclines in home values? As a group, select one of the issues, events or trends represented in this chart for further research. Select at least three search tools that are appropriate for your chosen topic.
  • Materials: Home Values Graph and a list of possible search tools.
Collaboration among students is a significant component of PBL. The presenters admitted that it is “messy.” In my group work, we realized that it could be unpredictable. There is no right or wrong answer and each group will come up with something different. It will be necessary for the librarian and/or instructor to check-in with each group in order to answer questions and provide guidance.

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