Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Making the Information Literacy ‘One-Shot’ Ignatian

What follows is the culminating project I proposed as a result of my participation in the Ignatian Pedagogy Seminar on my campus on August 3-7, 2015, a transformative experience to say the least. It describes the ways in which I plan to incorporate what I learned during the seminar into my instructional activities. 

My experience participating in the Ignatian Pedagogy Seminar this summer has set the direction for the next phase of my broader research agenda into the relationship between pedagogy, technology, and the humanity of learners. As a first step in this process, I propose the following project as a culmination of my participation in the seminar in summer 2015.

My plan is to use the 5-point Ignatian pedagogical paradigm (Ignatian Pedagogy—An Abridged Version [pdf] [IPP], 2014) as a framework for infusing Ignatian vision and pedagogy into the primary type of instruction I deliver as a faculty librarian: ‘one-shot’ information literacy instruction. ‘One-shot’ information literacy instruction refers to instruction by a librarian on information literacy[1] topics, skills, and concepts to students in a course as a guest presentation within the course schedule. The students only see the librarian in the classroom context once throughout the semester, which makes developing a relationship-based rapport with students a challenge. When done well, the ‘one-shot’ can be effective, but it requires that the librarian collaborate in advance with the course instructor on learning outcomes for the information literacy instruction session, assignment design for the research-based assignment(s) within the course, and assessment of student learning as a result of the session. There must be visible[2] mutual respect between the librarian and the course instructor for the ‘one-shot’ to work, but even when collaboration based on this respect occurs, pedagogical choices by the librarian are limited in scope to what can be accomplished in either 50 or 75 minutes.

In the 5-point Ignatian pedagogical paradigm, the first and last points—context and evaluation—are more difficult to apply concretely and pedagogically within the ‘one-shot’ model of instruction, though a few things can be said about each in relation to information literacy instruction that aims to be infused with Ignatian methods and vision.

Context, in which the teacher seeks to “understand the world of the student” (IPP, 2014, p.4) including the context in which learning occurs, is something on the one hand librarians are always doing: we both select and use the same research tools our students will be using to accomplish their research, and we can develop empathy for novice researchers based on that shared experience. Making this shared experience explicit within instruction is one strategy for making information literacy instruction more Ignatian. On the other hand, we often lack knowledge of the course context within which the information literacy instruction will take place: we are not their primary instructors, and we exist outside of the dynamics, rapport, and content knowledge they are developing through and in the course. A simple way to begin to address this is to reach out to the course instructor in advance and request a copy of the syllabus and course schedule, so the librarian can see how their information literacy instruction will fit within the bigger picture of the course as a whole.

Evaluation, which is the final point of the paradigm, refers to teachers evaluating the progress of students toward their learning goals. This is especially challenging for a librarian delivering ‘one-shot’ instruction because we do not typically have access to the student work that demonstrates that progress has been achieved. That being said, there are simple ways the librarian can provide timely and formative student feedback even within the ‘one-shot’ framework of instruction, including building into the session an activity that results in some form of student work—even if it is process-based and ‘unfinished’—which the librarian can review and respond to in the weeks following the session. This kind of feedback loop requires collaboration with the course instructor to facilitate getting the feedback to the students in a timely manner, but is worthwhile in that it would enable the librarian to complete the 5-point Ignatian paradigm in an explicit manner with students so they see the value of all five points and have an opportunity to grow in response to instructor feedback.

The middle three points of the paradigm—experience, reflection, and action—offer compelling analogs to the research process, which information literacy instruction aims to develop awareness of in students, and are the points I plan to incorporate into my ‘one-shot’ instruction most explicitly in Fall 2015 and beyond. I see this playing out in the following manner:

  • Experience: Students need to experience, in a hands-on/applied manner (i.e., direct experience (IPP, 2014, p.5)), what it is like to ‘do research’, even before I’ve taught them anything, since the research process as I teach it is recursive and always happening, whether they are doing academic course work or running a quick Google search to find the hours for their favorite coffee shop.
  • Reflection: Students need to reflect on what they already know, through the research experiences they’ve already had (including those prompted by their instructors), in order to determine if their approach needs revision in order to achieve their goal for the research. Reflection in this context will benefit from facilitation by the teacher (in this case, the librarian), who has already internalized the outcomes students are developing through the activity—we might call this ‘reflection with a purpose’.
  •  Action: Through structured reflection, students can create a revised research strategy in order to better meet their identified need, which they can then ‘test’ by putting it into action. The research strategy the librarian hopes students will develop as a result of information literacy instruction is not the one deployed during the initial experience phase, but the one developed and implemented at this, the action phase. In this way the experience phase serves as a safe space for students to try something, have it ‘fail’, and revise based on what is observed as a result of it not working as expected.
It is also worth noting that this process is always recursive (repetitio): the experience-reflection-action cycle can and should occur many times throughout the research process, with each cycle resulting in a more focused and effective research strategy for the topic or question the student is researching.

Practically speaking, I will try out the following concrete strategies to accomplish making the above pedagogical goals explicit for students:

  • Collaborate in advance with the course instructor, via email and in person if needed. This includes requesting a copy of the course syllabus, as well as any research-based assignment prompts students will be working from at the time of the information literacy instruction. These materials will assist me with the context point in the paradigm.
  • Develop a ‘flipped’ classroom activity, in collaboration with the course instructor, designed to give students an initial research experience from which our classroom session will draw. This initial activity would need to be assigned as homework by the course instructor during the class meeting prior to their information literacy instruction with me.
  • During the ‘one-shot’ information literacy session, devote time to a structured reflection activity in which students reflect on what worked and what didn’t during their initial experience activity (see bullet point above). This could be either oral or written (or both).
  • During the second half of the ‘one-shot’ information literacy session, develop and guide students through a template for developing a revised research strategy they can put into action, based on the ideas discovered communally in the reflection activity. 
  • Evaluation could take one of two forms: either the reflection or action activities may have a written component which I could collect and evaluate in the weeks following the session, or a collaborative assessment of students’ final work for the research-based assignment(s) could be arranged with the course instructor. 
Finally, in order to make the above points of the Ignatian pedagogical paradigm explicit for the students, I propose to develop a short, one-page handout that outlines the 5-point Ignatian pedagogical paradigm and how each point relates to the research process. I am undecided as to whether I would distribute this handout in advance of my instruction (through the ‘flipped’ classroom/experience activity), or at the end of my instruction session with the students, retroactively revealing the connections between the activities we just accomplished together and the Ignatian aspect of their education here at the university. When and how I share the handout will likely depend on how complex and time-consuming the activities wind up being, and the needs of each particular course.

I teach many ‘one-shot’ information literacy instruction sessions, in courses ranging from T/RS 121: Introduction to the Bible to WRTG 107: Composition (First-Year Writing). Upper-level and disciplinary courses I sometimes deliver ‘one-shot’ instruction to are in departments as diverse as English & Theatre, Theology/Religious Studies, Sociology/Criminal Justice, and Women’s Studies. My goal will be to challenge myself to deploy as many of the above strategies in as many of my ‘one-shots’ as possible, understanding that not every instruction context is suitable for every strategy outlined above.

I am excited about this challenge, as I believe it will make my ‘one-shot’ instruction more effective, transferrable (skills- and dispositions-wise), and fulfilling for all involved: myself (the librarian), the course instructor, and of course the students.


Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
Image by Flickr user theologhia via
CC BY-NC 2.0 (human readable summary here)


Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. 2015. Association of College and Research Libraries. http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework.

Ignatian Pedagogy—An Abridged Version. 2014. Jesuit Institute. http://tinyurl.com/IPP2014 [pdf].

[1] “Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning” (Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education).
[2] To students.

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