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Library Instruction: Teaching Tips

Planning Instruction

  • Speak to faculty to learn more about the assignment and their perceptions of student needs.
  • Ask for an assignment sheet.
  • Rule of 3: Focus your instruction on three main concepts. Cognitive psychology tells us that learning more than three things at a time overwhelms students. 
  • Think about what students might need to know before and after instruction. Consider using video or other tools to deliver these instructional messages before or after instruction.

Using LibGuides

  • Create course guides that address skills and resources students will need for their coursework. Here is an example: CED 350 Course Guide.
  • Send the link to a course guide or research guide to faculty. Explain to them that they should post the link in Angel. Students will be more likely to use them if they have quick and easy access to them.
  •  Consult with Brandon if you need assistance with LibGuides.

Classroom Management

  • If using LI#2, move the tables around. Different configurations can change student interactions with you and their peers.
  • When you have students do an activity, always have an example available for them to consult. This will cut down the number of questions you get regarding the directions.
  • Use Google Forms to have students respond to questions - this will require them to think. View Brandon's EDU 210 course guide - select the"Activity" Tab. You may get a few more questions out of the students this way.
  • Have cards at the students' seating areas and encourage them to write down their questions on the cards.
  • If students are not paying attention or are having side conversations, let the class know that you will continue once everyone is paying attention.
  • When having student do group work, you can allow them to choose their own groups or number them off to force them to interact with peers they are not friends with.

During Instruction: Engagement Strategies

  • Be yourself. Don't force a personality that is not natural to you.
  • Briefly share your story or experience with a subject area.
  • Ask students about non-library things to warm them up and create a comfortable classroom atmosphere.
  • Address why the students are in the library, which usually means discussing an assignment.
  • Let students know what they will learn at the beginning of the session. Debrief students at the end with a simple review of what was covered in the session.
  • After asking students a question, give "wait time." Often instructors will ask a question then quickly answer it if hands don't pop up. Waiting a few seconds give students time to process the question and their answer.
  • After asking a question, require students to talk to a neighbor, then select pairs to share. This will help break the silence in "quiet" groups.
  • Demonstrate a concept or tool, then allow students to practice. Often short periods of practice (~5 mins.) will be enough. This helps address students' fickle attention spans.
  • Integrate light competition into group assignments through the use of simple games. Use library pencils or candy as prizes.
  • Let students contribute to sessions. Ask for their examples and/or allow them to explain concepts.
  • Add variety into your instruction: break up a lecture with video clips, group work, hands on activities, or anything else that can help guide students' attention.
  • Model lesson activities after real-world work related to the subject area.
  • Infuse brief moments of novelty into your instruction (i.e., humor, funny images, etc.).
  • Reflect on your teaching after the class.  What did you do? How did it go? What went well? What could be improved? Is there anything you will do differently the next time?
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