Research Essentials is integrated into the UMKC General Education program via Discourse, writing and speaking courses, to teach students skills that will help them satisfy the below areas of the Technology and Information Literacy learning outcome of the Core curriculum. The program provides scaffolded instruction that assesses student learning via assessment embedded into learning objects. Research Essentials is offered for Discourse 100, 200, & 300; face-to-face instruction begins at the Discourse 200 level. Our curriculum covers information literacy skills and concepts—identifying source types; evaluating information needs; finding, using, and integrating sources—applied directly to the course research assignment. It consists of scored, online tutorials that students complete through Canvas prior to attending face-to-face sessions in the library classroom. Our learning activities are intended to help students achieve identified learning outcomes while maintaining focus on the larger goals of their research projects, course outcomes, undergraduate education, and future careers. Information literacy skills are transferable to different classrooms, disciplines, and life contexts. Research Essentials is crafted specifically to encourage students to see the wide-ranging applications of the knowledge they are acquiring and the skills they are practicing throughout the curriculum.
The program scope is ambitious; it requires library faculty to provide three levels of scaffolded instruction. The program reach has been incredible; in 2015, 90% of the freshmen and sophomore population of the university participated in Research Essentials. The instructor feedback has been positive; instructors appreciate the value of the instruction and attribute improvement in student use of sources to it. The student success is proven; qualitative and quantitative assessment methods show that students are achieving at the Advanced level on our information literacy rubric at higher levels than anticipated.
Through evidence-based decision making, outcomes-focused planning, and a great deal of intentionality, we aim to connect information literacy concepts to student work assignments in General Education classes as well as encourage students to connect their research to career and life goals.
We envision that students exiting the educational experience of the program will possess the skills they need to be information savvy for success in both academics and the real world. Additionally, it is our hope for Research Essentials to serve as a scalable model of information literacy teaching initiatives, campus buy-in strategies, and assessment practices for other institutions as instruction continues to be an area of growth in academic libraries.
Research Essentials curriculum is delivered face-to-face and asynchronously online via Canvas, the university’s Learning Management System. We strive to develop examples for every learning object that speak to various contexts in which students may apply their information literacy skills: one-third writing, one-third speech communication, one-third real life. The program utilizes: