The Library offers a variety of instructional programming that includes walk-in classes, curriculum-integrated sessions, multimedia software trainings, and online learning modules to support the development of students' information and digital literacy.
Faculty and teaching assistants may request curriculum-integrated library instruction sessions to introduce undergraduate and graduate students to the major library research tools and techniques in specific disciplines. Teaching the use of subscription databases and discovery layers helps to provide timely access to licensed scholarly and popular literature, primary sources and proprietary data. Instructional emphasis is placed on the use and critical value of these tools for successful course project completion.
The library's instructional efforts are aligned with the Library information literacy plan, which aims to meet AU's programmatic and department/school-focused learning objectives. The integration of information literacy teaching and learning is a fundamental element of AU's educational offerings, as required by AU's accrediting body, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Information Literacy Plan
American University Library's Division of Research, Teaching & Learning has implemented a three-tiered information literacy plan that aims to take a comprehensive approach to developing the information literacy skills of students over the course of their college careers. Features of the program are:
Tier One: The Information Literacy Tutorial and the College Writing Program
The tutorial combined with course-integrated instruction in the university's College Writing Program provides a basic level of research and information literacy instruction to incoming students:
- Instruction includes teaching the use of the AU Library Catalog, the SearchBox discovery layer, subscription databases and Google Scholar; developing basic searching concepts; using AU and other library collections; and understanding the tenets of academic integrity and scholarly communication.
- Sessions are usually presented by library faculty members.
- Completion of the tutorial offers students a limited but initial formative assessment of their information literacy skills.
Tier Two: Focused on developing advanced research skills within the disciplines
This initiative is under expansion, and it is being introduced in courses required for undergraduate majors or graduate programs in each school or college.
- Information covered includes introductions to and evaluations of discipline-specific subject databases, citation styles, Web sources, data sets, primary sources, or non-print media.
- Graduate and upper-level undergraduate student researchers are encouraged to develop proficiency with the citation management tools such as campus-supported EndNote software, or the freely available, Web-based tools Zotero or Mendeley.
- Sessions can be presented by library faculty members or by teaching faculty members.
- Assessment can be built into an accompanying assignment, a research paper, a midterm or final exam, as well as student evaluation of teaching.
Tier Three: Focused on honing advanced research skills
This helps students within various disciplines to support degree completion and lifelong learning.
- Depending on the discipline or department requirements, students complete a portfolio, capstone research project, substantial research paper (SRP), thesis or dissertation.
- Information covered may include advanced introductions to and evaluations of discipline-specific subject databases, citation styles, Web sources, data sets, primary sources, or non-print media.
- Sessions are usually presented in seminar style or in individual appointments with subject specialist library faculty members.
- Summative assessment by teaching faculty determines the student's successful completion of the major work.