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Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference (LILAC)


Information Literacy | Library and Information Science


Librarian-instructors lead lots of one-shot sessions and often have a lot to cover to help students learn everything that they need to know. Coupled with the desire to include ACRL’s Information Literacy Framework, there are so many concepts and skills to convey that even the most eager students (and librarians) can feel overwhelmed or unengaged. Our answer is the Research Race - an active learning exercise that applies what cognitive science knows about good game design to get students to explore library resources in class. Rather than instruction via lecture, the game has students working in teams to find answers in a friendly competition with their classmates; teamwork and a little motivation can help encourage the reluctant to participate. The students also participate in active and peer-to-peer learning, with the librarian providing feedback between each section of the Race, checking for comprehension and mastery before proceeding. In this way, the Race also embraces the ACRL framework of “Research as Inquiry”. Students are presented with questions and problems to solve, each section builds on skills acquired in previous legs, and the answers suggest additional lines of inquiry. We know that video games and play can be an effective method for learning. James Gee’s 2007 book on the ways video games teach (by providing challenges, a way to fail, and feedback) has been applied to many forms of online instruction. We used these same elements to improve live instruction and to engage students in oneshot library sessions.