LOEX 2019: Student research

The more I look at my notes from LOEX2019, the more I think I loved this conference. In each session I attended, there was something new – a new perspective, a new method, a new tool or a new book just waiting to be examined more closely.

One of the really good sessions I went to was about students’ research process. Brianne Markowski and Rachel Dineen from University of Northern Colorado had done an analysis of students’ mind maps of how they do research.

“Think about your last research assignment. How did you proceed?” This was the task that Markowski and Dineen gave their students. The students made mind maps on their processes. Markowski and Dineen wanted to understand how the students perceive their own research process, and they wanted a rich description of data on the maps. Markowski and Dineen analysed and coded each mind map, and they presented some of their findings.

Image of mind map of research process

One of the mind maps collected from a student.

Findings included the following:

  • Students think about the assignments. It was acknowledged as a distinct step on all the mind maps.
  • In some of the mind maps the students show that they have drawn conclusions before they are done.
  • They often emphasise that they take notes.
  • They often place “citing sources” at the end, in stead of something they do throughout the process.
  • Some emphasise that they have asked fellow students or professors.

What does these findings mean? Markowski and Dineen said that we should spend more time on developing their subject/theme/research questions. Maybe we should take some time at the beginning of our courses or classes to think about their research project. What are they interested in? What do they need to know more about? We also need to help the students to think about their sources. They have to reflect on what they read. One way of doing it could be to give them a one-minute paper. Ask them to describe what they want to or need to do now or “What was interesting about this process?” – or something similar.

I have never really thought about asking the students to make mind maps of their research process. I found this very interesting. I would think this kind of assignment would fit right into the “Information creation as a process” frame in the ACRL Framework.

The question is, of course: Were the students involved in this project honest about their process, or did they draw a process that they think they should do? (Alternatively, what they think we wanted to see..?)

image on the categorization of subjects in the mind maps

Categories from the mind maps

Another session that I went to with a similar theme was: “You Can’t Catch Fruit Flies in a Mouse Trap: Teaching Contextual Evaluation of Information Sources”. Gary Arave from Indiana University Bloomington talked about how students often take information out of context. Students tend to scan information sources for sentences they can cite in stead of looking at the sources in more holistic ways. As a consequence, students use sources that are inappropriate to support their claims.

Arave said that information literacy is sense-making. If you are information literate, you can make sense of information. Humans categorise. It reduces the cognitive load. When we experience something new, we categorise: is this a new thing or a typical thing. There is a scale between these two extremes. If something is completely new, we do not know what to do, if it is typical, we get bored. Somewhere in the middle of the scale is good, when it is new enough to be interesting, but we still know how to handle it. We are not either novice or expert – there is a big middle ground here.

We need to give students the tools to see the context the information is created in (I am thinking about the ACRL Framework here..). The CRAAP test (criticised by several at the conference) and the ACRL Framework assumes some prior knowledge. Not all information is suited to every context. We know this, but we do not talk about it (enough).

Arave talked about how he had distributed articles that the students should read before class, given them a tutorial on how to annotate text in Adobe Acrobat, and asked the students to find examples of different kinds of information in the article. For example: “Find an example of demographic information. Mark this with the pink marker.” This was seen as a possible method to get students to reflect on what they read, and to analyse the content of the texts. A good idea, I thought.

LOEX 2019: Collaboration

Those who read this blog on a regular basis or follow me on Twitter know that one of my first interests within teaching in libraries is collaboration with faculty staff. Without having working relationships with teachers and other faculty staff, we do not stand a chance of outreach. Without them, the library remains an island where visitors shove a plank across when they need librarians, and take it with them when they leave. We need our collaborators to make a bridge to the students, and to maintain the bridge when it is in place. Before I am in dager of overusing the metaphor, I will get on with what I learned within this are on LOEX 2019.

Ula Lechtenberg and Zach Claybaugh, Sacred Heart University held an excellent session on “Sharing our compass: Faculty development and information literacy”. (A picture of the compass can be seen in their presentation) The north, east, south and east positions on the compass were substituted with: “Mapping the Quest”, “Packing”, “Unpacking” and “Repacking”. Lechtenberg and Claybaugh used this compass to explain their journey on how they built a new course on information literacy for teachers.

Anyway – Lechtenberg and Claybaugh talked about how their mandatory information literacy course had been cut, and a portion of it had been moved to a first-year seminar. This created some problems. Lechtenberg and Claybaugh, inspired by a similar idea at the University of Arizona, decided to make a new IL course/ workshop for teachers. Teach the teachers!

Lechtenberg and Claybaugh had emphasised interaction in their course, and they used both Round Robin and World Café as methods to get the participants to interact with each other and with librarians. Ahead of the course, learning goals for students were developed. The learning goals were connected to the ACRL Framework, but to avoid all the “tribal language”, librarians had developed learning goals that the participants could understand. For example: “Students will be able to develop creative search strategies to navigate different systems and locate materials relevant to their research assignments”. The course participants could choose three learning goals that they wanted to explore, and they moved around to the tables where their learning goals were discussed. On each table, a librarian facilitated the discussions. The World Café is a similar idea, but the participants were supposed to share ideas, stories etc. that they had from the course, and these were noted on the tablecloth on the tables. These ideas and stories were shared when a new group came to sit down. The topics on each table were connected to the ACRL Framework.


Claybaugh has made a useful library guide on teaching information literacy for instructors. It is available here.

Several presenters had cited this article from Cowen & Eva (2016). I have saved it, and I am going to get started on it soon.

It is important to find the right partners on campus. Find the ones that have access to students.


I have been thinking a lot about this session after the conference. I think that we, due to the continual understaffing at the library, the workload and information overload for teachers, that we need to get a better grip on how to deal with collaboration and outreach. I really want to make something along the lines of what Lechtenberg and Claybaugh did here, but I guess I am too much of a realist to be able to imagine having a two-day course here for teachers. I can’t imagine many (or any?) teachers that would make this a priority. I am thinking about other ways to get this done. Maybe in mini or micro sessions? Maybe integrated at staff seminars? Maybe a MOOC?


LOEX 2019: Motivating students

In this post, I’ll try to gather up what I learned about innovative teaching methods, pedagogy and other bits and bobs on how we use and convey our information litearcy content. See also my other posts from the LOEX Conference: LOEX 2019 and LOEX 2019: ACRL Framework.

Sarah E. Fancher, Ozarks Tech CC and Jamie L. Emery, Saint Louis University talked about the need to get the students to change their research behaviours. 78 to 84 percent of students use internet resources either exclusively or mostly when they research their papers – even after they have received some form of information literacy instruction. That means that our sessions are not very effective when it comes to changing behaviour.

I first came across Simon Sinek’s books in January this year, and I have just started reading his books, but I seem to come across his name everywhere. Sara Fancher also talked about his principle: “Start with why”. Fancher emphasised that we have to spend more time explaining to students why they they need to have better strategies when they do research for their papers. The end goal must be visible from the start. Fancher suggested that librarians should use more backwards design when they plan their sessions. Start with why, or lift the end goal – it makes it easier and better to get the session together. We start with the end goal and then map out how we plan to get there. (This was also discussed in one of the sessions of LILAC18. Interesting topic!)

Fancher and Emery talked about the Rational Actor Paradigm. If we want the students to change their behaviour, we have to change the incentives so that the students understand why they need to change. People act rationally and from self-interest.

When it comes to discussions on the value of libraries, Fancher and Emery found two different types of librarians: those who see the library as heaven – having an intrinsic value that must be obvious to everyone, and those who see the library as a useful resource – kind of like someone trying to make the students eat their greens. As experts, we (librarians) have a lot of information that is more or less tacit. It is difficult for us to realise that not everyone has the same knowledge. We have expert blind spots. It is important that we are aware of this.

Based on an article by Hinchcliffe, Rand and Collier (2018), Fancer and Emery named some common misconceptions on information literacy:

  • Students believe that everything can be found online
  • Students believe that everything is free
  • First-year students think they have to figure everything out on their own/ that they are not allowed to ask for help
  • Students believe that the library is for locating and checking out books and studying in silence
  • Students believe that everything in the library’s collection is credible
  • Students believe that they can get by with only freely available documents
  • Students believe that Google is enough

misconception on information literacy from Hinchclippe, Rand and Collier

When we start with how, and the mechanics, it is hard to find the time for the deeper meaning of information literacy. It is also very teacher-centered. It is easy to fall into this pitfall when faculty staff ask us to come and tell their students about the library. We spend a lot of time on technical skills when we teach, and we tend to present it like a linear procedure. How long does this stick with the students?

“What can motivate our students to learn?”, Emery and Fancher asked. They alluded to the ARCS (Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction) model of motivational design, by Keller. We have to persuade the students that learning is in their best interest. We should focus on relevance. What do the students find interesting? What do we find interesting? In the overlap between these two are the relevance.

Emery and Fancher ask their students how large a percentage they estimate that they search via Google. Most students estimate between 80 and 100 percent. In reality Google search approximately four (4) percent. It students believe they can find everything on Google, why learn to use the trickier databases? They won’t. We need to get the message out that Google doesn’t cover everything.

Emery and Fancher recommended Steiner and Rigby (2019) ‘s book on motivating students. It is on my reading list..

In a session with Sheila Stoeckel and Alex Stark from University of Wisconsin – Madison (“Librarians as Threshold Guides: Blazing the Trail with Competency Based Micro-Courses”) I learned more about the usefulness of micro-courses. I decided on adding something from this session to the post on motivation because I felt that maybe this format can motivate students to learn more.

Stoeckel and Stark talked about how the ACRL Framework is modelled on the theory of threshold concepts. One of the problems here, Stoeckel and Stark said, is that many of us mainly do one-shot sessions with students. Over all, we spend little time with each student, and it is unlikely that the students will (notably) pass the threshold in class. (Note: Ray Land (2015) said in his keynote at LILAC15 that passing the thresholds rarely feels like a “eureka moment”, but that the changes in perception comes gradually.) It is important that we collaborate with teachers to help the students pass the thresholds.

graphic describing threshold concepts in ACRL Framework

Stoeckel and Stark explained how they had analysed curricula or lesson plans and found areas that could benefit from competency-based micro-courses to engage students in research. Micro-learning can happen in many different formats; podcasts, videos etc. It needs to be flexible and scalable. The courses that UW Madison made are open access, and they are available here.

Stoeckel and Stark emphasised the need for collaboration with the right campus partners (that can give insight in the real needs of students – do a needs analysis), the importance of delegating the responsibility for updating content and working with people who have access to students.

graphic of process development



Hinchcliffe, L. J., Rand, A. and Collier, J. (2018) Predictable Information Literacy Misconceptions of First-Year College Students, Communications in Information Literacy, 12(1), pp. 4-18.

Land, R. (2015) ‘There could be trouble ahead’. Threshold Concepts, Troublesome Knowledge and Information Literacy – a current debate. Unpublished paper presented at Librarians` Information Literacy Annual Conference (LILAC). Newcastle.

Steiner, S. K. and Rigby, M. (2019) Motivating students on a time budget : pedagogical frames and lesson plans for in-person and online information literacy instruction. Available at: http://public.eblib.com/choice/PublicFullRecord.aspx?p=5626355.


LOEX 2019: the ACRL Framework

In stead of doing my usual session-by-session recap, I thought I’d go for more of a theme-based summary this year. This means that I have not gone through each session on its own, but rather tossed everything I attended on one subject into the same pot. I hope this works.

In 2015, the Association of college and research libraries (ARCL) replaced Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (known as the Standards) with Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (known as the Framework). It would be fair to say that this move got mixed feedback, and it was still a hot topic in many of the sessions at LOEX 2019.

Seeing as we in Norway do not have a framework or standards for information literacy, it may be hard to understand just how important this shift was for our American allies, but I have tried to read up on the framework itself as well as the mixed feedback it got (and still gets). This is something that I am interested in, so I prioritised going to sessions that emphasised the framework. And there were many of them..

Just a quick intro to the framework for those who are not familiar with them. The framework consists of six different frames: Authority is constructed and contextual, Information creation as a process, Information has value, Research as inquiry, Scholarship as conversation, and Searching as Strategic Exploration. The frames have descriptions on behaviour and dispositions for an expert in the field. The basic principle behind the framework is threshold concepts. The standards were easy to use, the framework is more conceptual in nature.

Joanna Thielen and Amanda Nichols Hess from Oakland University talked about how they had used the Scholarship as conversation, Information has value and Information creation as a process frames to make a course on reading journal articles for students. Nobody on campus were teaching students how to read journal articles, Thielen said. It is an underlying premiss that they know how to do it. (I couldn’t agree more! Journal articles have their own genre conventions that needs to be taught.) Thielen hands out two articles (one from a magazine, and one from a scholarly journal) on the same subject, and ask the students to fill out a form, identifying which article is from what kind of journal, and the students have to compare and contrast the articles. They take a poll on how often they are asked by their professors to read and understand scholarly journal articles, and what they find the most difficult. Thielen goes through all the different parts of an article, and she shows the students how to read it (in what order). Thielen suggests the following order: Title, author, reference, abstract, introduction, conclusion, headlines and subheadings, figures and figure texts, method, results and discussion. She also teaches them how to look up difficult words and how to annotate them onto the article. Toward the end of the lecture, Thielen gives tips on how to focus and concentrate (getting rid of abstractions etc.) before she gives them a new poll asking what the students can do to be able to concentrate. The feedback Thielen has had from students suggest that they use the new information to improve their study habits. Amanda Nichols Hess talked about how she had made an online version of this campus course. The online course is self-paced and they can print their own course certificate. Oakland has several online courses, on plagiarism and referencing, transfer students etc.

Image from powerpoint presentation about scholarly journals

Glenn Koelling and Alyssa Russo from University of New Mexico talked about how they had created a mystery room, based on the escape room ideas (only – we are not trying to get them to escape..). Escape rooms are about solving riddles to get out of the room, the mystery room was about solving riddles and clues to teach students about types of information sources. “A book is not a format, it is a medium”, Koelling said. Students see a reference list with links as websites, but in reality it can be websites, journal articles, encyclopaedias etc. I have to admit that I have never thought about this. One of the tasks in the mystery room was to rewrite a text as a magazine article, a journal article etc. This was connected to the “Information creation as a process” frame in the framework.

Koelling and Russo showed us how they used a receipt from Starbucks as one information format. What is it? What is the purpose? Who created the information? What can it show us? I really think we should talk more about this when we teach. How information is created and what the purpose is could really be helpful before we start talking about searching for journal articles. I will definitely use this particular frame more in the future. Koelling and Russo’s talk showed how this frame can be used creatively.

The three P system: purpose, process, product. This can be used when we talk to students about information formats.

the intellectual and physical structure of a receipt

Koelling and Russo were inspired by Hofer, Hanick and Townsend’s (2019) new book.

Having written about information literacy for years, it was such a pleasure to be able to listen to some of the authors of texts I have referenced so often. I was almost a little starstruck to be in the same room as Don Latham and Melissa Gross. They gave a lecture on peritext analysis. Peritext is text and images that surround text, such as cover, tables of content, notes, introduction etc. Latham and Gross have made Peritextual Literacy Framwork (PLF) that works with the ACRL Framework. In their new book (Witte, Latham & Gross, 2019) the authors discuss how peritext is a literacy that could and should be used when we teach students information skills.

Latham and Gross had a handout that showed the interaction between the PLF and the ACRL Framework. An example of peritext: headings/subheadings, page numbers, hyperlinks and hot links. These are in the PLF listed under the Navigation category. They can be connected to the “Research as Inquiry” frame in the ACRL Framework. Gross and Latham (2017) also wrote about how peritext can be used to support critical thinking.

In the lecture that I attended they used mainly the “Authority is contextual and constructed” frame. There is so much information in various formats, eg. linked content, sound, animations, commersials etc. that we need to help the students see what this content is. Who made the content? Can we trust it? Who is it made for? – what does this do to authority?

Students find it hard to use the right information in the right context. We know that not all information can be used in all contexts, but we don’t really discuss this much with our students. All data is created in a context, and we need to talk more about this.


Gross, M.&D. Latham (2017) The peritextual literacy framework: Using the functions of peritext to support critical thinking. In: Library & Information Science Research, 39(2), p. 116-123.

Hofer, A., Hanick, S. L. & Townsend, L. (2019) Transforming Information literacy instruction : threshold concepts in theory and practice. Santa Barbara, Cal: Libraries Unlimited.

Witte, S.,  Latham, D. & Gross, M. (2019) Literacy Engagement Through Peritextual Analysis. Chicago: ALA Editions.


LOEX 2019

LOEX, originally Library Orientation Exchange (now just LOEX), is a non-profit organisation for information literacy and library instruction. They host an annual conference that moves around in the US. This year it took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and I was lucky enough to get a seat at the table. I have wanted to attend LOEX for years, so I am really happy it all dovetailed this year. Thank you LOEX committee, Bibliotekarforbundet (Library Union) and most of all: Thanks to my library manager and good colleagues!

The reason I really wanted to go to LOEX was that it is a conference that is oriented around practice. The goal is to connect librarians and the good ideas and projects they have. While there is something to be said for conferences with a more philosophical approach, I wanted to go somewhere they give you tips and transferrable, concrete ideas – easy to take away and reconfigure for my workplace. And that is exactly what I got! I have been trying now to go through all my tweets and notes to get an overview of everything. I’ll be writing up my notes in the following posts here at this blog. More from the conference can also be found at http://www.loexconference.org/ and by searching Twitter with hashtag #loex2019.

loex logo