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Jennifer Mayer, Visual and Performing Arts Liaison: Teaching Philosophy

Teaching Philosophy

Jennifer Mayer, MLIS 


As an academic librarian, I teach both individual information literacy (IL) classes, and credit-bearing, upper-division and graduate-level IL classes to assist students in becoming life-long information literate learners. Information literacy instruction is integral to the university’s curriculum, which requires students to master inquiry and analysis and critical thinking skills. Research shows that IL instruction has the most impact in upper level courses.  I strive to teach students how to become information literate individuals.  I find teaching credit classes especially compelling, because of the depth and breadth teaching a credit class allows, and the proven positive impacts that semester-long teaching has on IL skills.


When I started teaching in the university library environment, my approach to instruction focused exclusively on providing one-time instruction sessions for classes brought to the library by faculty members.   Over time, I asked more questions of faculty to discover specific needs, plan for the best timing for the instruction session, and make the sessions as impactful as possible.  I started creating more objectives, outcomes, and active learning activities in my individual sessions.  I also started assessing the classes with more frequency.  During the past several years, in addition to single instruction sessions, I have taught both online and face-to-face upper-division, interdisciplinary information literacy credit classes. I am now developing a graduate level research methods class, which I will teach in the future.

Teaching Goals

My main objectives as an instructor are to teach students how to:

·      locate, evaluate, analyze and use information related to their disciplines

·      be critical thinkers and problem solvers when assessing information sources

·      create effective research questions

·      utilize effective research strategies

·      read and write more effectively

·      detect and fill gaps in their research methods and processes

·      understand the importance of information literacy

·      improve understanding of technology tools and implications

·      work effectively both independently and in groups

·      understand issues related to intellectual freedom, censorship and plagiarism

·      understand issues surrounding scholarly communication, open access, and publishing cycles in their field

·      utilize effective information literacy skills while a student and transfer these skills into their professional lives.

Teaching Methods

I employ a variety of methods to make learning most effective for students, including:

·      using diverse teaching methods and tools to deliver an understanding of information literacy and library research principles

·      incorporating learner-centered experiences, and a varied range of active and problem-based learning techniques that encourage critical thinking

·      asking questions that promote learning and dialogue, serving as a guide for learning

·      providing appropriate reading and writing opportunities; providing feedback on paper and projects throughout the semester

·      guiding student learning, fostering critical thinking, collaborative and independent work

·      helping improve students’ reading, writing and critical thinking skills considering multiple literacies (including visual and digital) and learning styles

·      acknowledging and integrating the knowledge and experience that students bring to the class; giving students some control over their learning

·      reinforcing the understanding that library research is dynamic, ongoing, and a recursive process

·      relating class activities to measurable outcomes, including real-world scenarios

·      providing opportunities for student discovery and experimentation with new methods and technology

·      being flexible and experimenting with learning approaches

·      fostering trust and respect in the classroom, ensuring students have a role to play in the classroom

Assessment: Measuring Teaching Success

The methods I use to measure learning in a class include:

·      continually assessing and adjusting my teaching using in-class assessments during the semester

·      end of semester student evaluations and in-class peer evaluations

·      pre and post-test assessments to show learning correlations at the beginning and end of the semester

·      review of  the evidence of the quality of their work and how it changes throughout the semester


 June 2014





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