Service Learning

University Libraries/ UCAT Service Learning Course Design Institute

1. Recent Research
Project Information Literacy:
  1. Students don’t have trouble finding information. If anything, they are overwhelmed with what they find.
  2. Greater difficulty formulating interesting, researchable research question and modifying search strategies.
  3. Students need help in understanding the “scholarly information landscape”
    • Ecosystem of relationships between scholars and researchers
    • Data sources
    • Investigative methods
    • Publishing/dissemination methods
  4. Undergraduates learning skills at the “tool”-level meets short-term but not long-term course or curricular needs
  5. PIL shows that students used tried and true strategies by rote; have trouble re-calibrating when necessary.

Additional Research The Citation Project:

ERIAL Project:
2. Threshhold Concepts (“Big Ideas”)

It’s not just about finding information; it’s about understanding information contextually. Larger concepts that may need to be made explicit:

  • Scholarship is a conversation: finding one study that shows one thing is not a complete picture
  • Research as inquiry: all research starts with a question that leads to more questions
  • Format as process: the format of a publication gives us information about the process used to create it, which in turns informs how/when it is useful.
  • Searching is strategic: there is a method to efficient and effective searching
  • Authority is constructed and contextual
  • Information has value

Complete draft framework is available:

3. Library Links

Find a Subject Librarian:
iDesign Toolkit (in development)
Carmen Library Links Consult your subject librarian!


Service Learning and Information Literacy


  • Connects with and reinforces the academic subject materials of the class
  • Addresses a problem or contributes to the betterment of the local community or a specific group
  • Demonstrates reciprocity between students and groups being served
  • Teaches civic and social responsibility
  • Requires critical reflection and analysis from students

“The simplest reason for service learning and information literacy is to assist students with understanding the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ behind a project.” – Chris Sweet, Librarian at Illinois Wesleyan University

“I learned that it is quite enjoyable researching a topic you’re passionate about. This was my first opportunity to do so in such depth. I also learned what a difference one person can make in making something happen.” – A service learning student

Your Subject Librarian or Undergraduate Engagement Librarian (Beth Black

  • Consultation on assignment design
  • Consultation on resources
  • Consultations directly with students
  • Embedded librarian

Carmen Library Links – especially for links to local data, relevant court cases, specialized information needs.

Sample Assignments

Before service experience
Research statistics regarding local employment rates for those who can’t speak English versus those with bilingual skills.
Information need: who collects this data and where is it published? - (Research as inquiry/Authority is Contextual)
Research local immigration trends to understand how many people are migrating to their local community and where they are coming from.
Information need: local census data - (Searching is strategic)

During/after service experience:
Write a critical analysis of your population’s situation. What efforts have been tried in similar communities and were these efforts successful? How might they apply to the problem with which you are engaged?
Information needs: clear understanding of the topic, literature in relevant field(s) - (Scholarship is a conversation)

Teaching and Learning Department, OSU Libraries |