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First-Year Seminars: Library Instruction Resources for Instructors & Peer Advisors   Tags: critical_thinking, first-year_seminars, information_literacy, undergraduate  

Last Updated: May 15, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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The Library & First-Year Seminars

Library Orientation and Information Literacy Instruction for First-year Seminars

 Fall 2013

The overall goal of the FYS Information Literacy sessions is to introduce students to fundamental library resources and to develop students' critical inquiry in the context of library research.  Basic research competencies acquired during their first year will help students identify information resources for course assignments, and set the stage for a tiered approach in which they develop more sophisticated research skills in their general education and major coursework.


First year students arrive with a wide range of experiences with library resources, requiring an introduction to academic research strategies and resources.  Information literacy sessions offer the opportunity to "level the playing field" among first year students in relation to their ability to make use of basic library information resources and their librarians.


First Year Outcomes for FYS Library Orientation and Information Literacy Class Sessions:


Each FYS instructor should schedule at least one library session during the course of the semester.  Scheduling more than one would enable a general orientation to their library as well as beginning to develop research questions, understanding the role of students as scholars, and critical inquiry related to information sources.  Work with your librarian to create active learning opportunities during the library sessions and related assignments that reinforce concepts and skills covered in information literacy sessions.  Foundational information literacy learning outcomes include an introduction to:

  • Students' role as scholars in discourse communities inside and outside the university.
  • Developing research questions and relevant keywords.
  • Critical evaluation of information; value and distinctness of information resources (e.g., data sets, finding aids, Internet, library catalog, librarians, subscription databases, etc.)
  • Ethical, legal, and social issues surrounding the production and use of information; copyright and fair use..
  • The role of citation and documentation.

These outcomes may manifest more specifically as:

  • Students will navigate the library web site in order to locate the library catalog, specific databases, and get help from a reference librarian, recognizing these sources as support for completing their assignments.
  • Students will search the library catalog in order to locate a wide variety of library materials, such as books, compact discs, DVDs, electronic books and government documents.
  • Students will correctly decipher a citation in order to locate an information source.
  • Students will construct a keyword search and apply limits in an article index database in order to identify popular and scholarly sources.
  • Students will develop criteria to evaluate information resources in order to successfully discern when information sources (journal articles, websites, newspaper stories, books) are relevant, credible and appropriate for use in their academic research.
  • Students will identify scholarly and popular types of information resources in order to discover that different types of information sources have different purposes and audiences.
  • Students will learn how to efficiently and effectively locate & access articles (electronically and in print) using available resources, such as Full Text Search options in order to demonstrate a general knowledge of how to obtain information and develop a realistic overall plan and timeline to acquire the needed information that may (or may not be) readily available.
  • Students will identify subject and course specific library guides in order to recognize how different resources are required to meet their information needs in various disciplines and subject areas.
  • Students will recognize when a source must be cited in order to correctly document a source. 

Contact your Subject Librarian to schedule your sessions. 

Adapted from Boatwright Memorial Library, University of Richmond, "First Year Seminars: Information Literacy Outcomes,"







First-Year Seminar Goals


First-year seminars are 4-credit courses that begin in New Student Week and continue through the entire fall semester.  All new students entering the University are required to take a first-year seminar during their first term at Redlands (University of Redlands Catalog, 2007-2009, p.55).

First-year seminars, which are often interdisciplinary and creative in how a content area is approached, provide every student with:

  • A close personal relationship with a faculty member who not only teaches the course but also serves as the academic advisor and mentor.

  • An introduction to college level skills, which may include various forms of writing, how to do scholarly research, study strategies, and how to effectively participate in classroom discussion.

  • A challenging academic experience that addresses subject matter with theoretical depth and relevant application.

Ideal Learning Outcomes for First Year Seminars

Beyond the content and process of a specific liberal arts foundation course, it is hoped that by the end of the first year seminar, students will have gained skills and experience in the following areas:

  • An ability to contribute to class discussions in a manner that goes beyond what has been expected at the secondary school level.

  • An experience of writing and/or creating project(s) that has included critical feedback from the professor and rewriting/recreating.

  • Specific strategies to avoid plagiarism and accurately reference work from academic sources found in journals, books, and Internet sites.

  • An ability to access and utilize academic resources such as the library, academic databases, and computer center.

  • Knowledge of and potential utilization of academic support services, diversity affairs office, community service learning, and the counseling center.

  • Time management skills that allow for a healthy balance between academic responsibilities (class attendance and participation, timely and quality assignments) and social and outside work responsibilities.

  • A relative comfort with discussing general and specific academic and professional goals and plans with his/her advisor and peer advisor.

  • An increase in self-efficacy and assertiveness to ask questions and address academic concerns with faculty and the academic institution.

  • A movement away from psychological dependence on family for life decision-making toward a more autonomous and inter-dependent stance.

  • A new peer group community that has developed from the common academic experience and significant interactions during the first year seminar.


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