Active Learning Techniques for Librarians

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Recently, I have been disappointed by instruction books that are a collection of techniques, but when you boil them down, really it is only a couple of strategies that are just reworded and reworked. That is until today, when I read Active Learning Techniques for Librarians by Andrew Walsh and Padma Inala. This book had an excellent introduction of active learning, and over 50 separate examples that you could implement in the classroom tomorrow. Here are a few of my favorites that I will try this fall:


  • I will do it: ask students to write down 3 things they learned, how they plan to apply the knowledge and a date, and how you will continue learning. Then mail or e-mail the sheets back to the student at an agreed upon time.

  • Lightening the learning climate: Have students 'make fun of' a topic you will cover in class, or the opposite, such as the worst way to find resources for my paper.

  • Poster tours: For group assignments have students create a poster wit htheir thoughts/findings. Then students circulate and write questions on their peers' posters.

  • Start,Stop, Continue: A great way to get feedback midstream, as students to write on post-its what they think you should stop doing, start doing and continue doing.

  • Show Me, tell me: This capitalizes on childhood memories of playdough, and being creative. Have students mold or draw their current stage of the research process/ model/ how they feel about the lit review.

  • Spot the mistake: Have students take notes when you make mistakes (on purpose and not) and then compare with a partner and discuss how they would approach such a mistake.

What I especially appreciated about each learning activity is the author's list common pitfalls, so you can plan for them and not be caught off guard.

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