ODCE: Spinning Hay into Gold: Moving from Information to Scholarship

The third session I attended at ODCE was given by give librarians from the University of Cincinnati: Pam Bach, Ted Baldwin, Jan Carlin, Cheryl Ghosh, and Olga Hart.  I have attended sessions given by many of them in the past at ODCE and ALAO and each time I come away with a little bit more. Towards the end of the session someone asked why the UC librarians are completely on-board with PBL. It was explained that a few years ago the University decided to focus on PBL to strengthen the academic program in hopes of retaining students. The librarians brought themselves up to speed and are using PBL in their instruction sessions. 

The main thing to remember with PBL is for everyone to understand their roles. Instructors are now mentors/guides and students are the ones truly in charge of the learning. 

A great problem includes:

  • familiarity
  • significance/relevance
  • authentic
  • dramatic appeal
  • multiple solutions

Using PBL in library instruction:

  • Problem is presented
  • Students identify what they already know and what they need to know
  • They brainstorm on where to start and then start conducting library research
  • There is a feedback loop where they see where they are and if necessary start searching in another resource
  • They solve the problem/complete the task
  • At the end it is good to have a group wrap-up, mini lecture, class discussion, or group presentation to tie it all together.

Librarians as PBL instructors:

  • Start with learning outcomes to make sure your problem asks the right question to achieve your objective.
  • Use brainstorming, round robin, or prioritization to facilitate active learning and guide the students.
  • Get feedback throughout the process to keep things on track and improve for next time

University of Cincinnati's PBL web site

University Libraries PBL web site with example PBL problems used in library instruction

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