The United States Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education recently announced a new Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) competition First in the World (FITW). The program will provide multi-year grants to institutions of higher education to spur the development of innovations that improve educational outcomes, make college more affordable for students and families, and develop an evidence base of effective practices. The grant announcement explains that innovations can take many forms, such as those that improve teaching and learning by redesigning courses and student supports or by leveraging technological developments.

The FITW competition aims to increase postsecondary access, affordability and completion for underrepresented, underprepared or low-income students at institutions across the country. Applications are due June 30, and FIPSE is holding pre-application webinars May 28 and June 4 from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. EDT. See the First in the World website and the official Federal Register Notice for more details.

While ACRL is not eligible to apply, academic librarians could work with their own institutions and consortia to seek FITW funding. With $75 million dollars available, this could be a powerful mechanism for you to implement innovative strategies and effective practices which improve student outcomes. Use FITW as a catalyst to transform student learning, pedagogy, and instructional practices through creative and innovative collaborations on your campus. Leverage this as an opportunity to demonstrate alignment with and impact on institutional outcomes.

Think of ACRL when you develop your proposal. We can serve as a contractor to support your project in the following ways:

You may think of other ways ACRL could support you through our existing programs and services. Or perhaps you would benefit from having ACRL involved in a new way, as a full partner to offer more substantial support. To pursue any of these options as you develop your FITW proposals, be in touch with Kara Malenfant, ACRL’s senior strategist for special initiatives at or 800-545-2433 ext 2510.


Leveraging Emerging Learning Technologies to Promote Library Instruction
By Beth Strickland, Laurie Alexander, Amanda Peters, and Catherine Morse
June 3, 2013, Educause Review:

As we think about the value added by library services and instruction, the article “Leveraging Emerging Learning Technologies to Promote Library Instruction” highlights key elements of a successful library program – collaboration, assessment, revision, and repeat. Two of the Value Reports’ essential questions resounded as I read the work of these University of Michigan librarians:

1. How does the library contribute to the student experience?
2. How does the library contribute to student learning?

Determined to move beyond the traditional one-shot workshop and supported by the assistant dean of undergraduate education, these librarians collaborated with faculty to develop a for-credit research course. As they assessed their work, they realized there were key components they could enhance using learning technologies. Again, they collaborated with an instructional technologist and created a blended learning approach to the material. This work demonstrates their extension beyond the traditional role of library information literacy instruction and work in curriculum development:

In the area of student learning, academic libraries are in the middle of a paradigm shift. In the past, academic libraries functioned primarily as information repositories; now they are becoming learning enterprises (Bennett 2009, 194). This shift requires academic librarians to embed library services and resources in the teaching and learning activities of their institutions (Lewis 2007). In the new paradigm, librarians focus on information skills, not information access (Bundy 2004, 3); they think like educators, not service providers (Bennett 2009, 194). VAL Report p.37

The online component allowed them to monitor progress immediately instead of waiting for a bibliography or final project to review. This generated discussion among the course librarian faculty member and students in a way that was not as evident in the face-to face version of the class. While we think about how to develop similar classes in our own institutions, these University of Michigan librarians have given us a great model to help others conceive and convince constituents of the benefits inherent in assessing and reviewing workshop and curriculum design.


Guest post by Debbie Krahmer, Learning Commons Librarian, Colgate University

[A version of this post was originally printed in the Fall 2012 Colgate University Libraries newsletter.]


The Core Curriculum is a key part of Colgate University’s liberal arts education. Only one category, Core Communities & Identities, explicitly states information literacy in their top 3 learning goals. Every Core CI class involves a research project of some kind, in the form of posters, videos, or research papers. The variety of research projects has been an obstacle to designing a suitable assessment instrument. How can you assess the impact of information literacy instruction across a diverse set of projects, geographical areas, and disciplines?

Grounded in ACRL’s Information Literacy guidelines, we based our assessment on “Project Information Literacy,” the national survey conducted by Alison Head and Michael Eisenberg. I worked with three teaching faculty from Core CI to survey over 500 students to determine how they were using and evaluating resources, and if attending a library session had any influence on the outcomes at the end of the semester.

The survey was administered at the beginning and end of the Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 semesters, and is being repeated for the 2012-2013 academic year. It consisted of 7-8 select PIL 2010 questions, administered through Google Forms. Using Google Forms helped to cut down on the time it took to collect the data, and the shortness of the survey allowed students to finish it in about 15 minutes. The majority of the 574 respondents were first year or sophomore-level students.

The broad reach of the PIL survey made it the perfect model for developing a simple assessment tool that could be used for any course. Colgate was one of the participants in the 2010 survey, so we had not only national data but also Colgate-specific benchmarks to measure against.

Perhaps the most exciting result of the survey was that attending a library information literacy session showed a far more positive change in using and evaluating research materials from the start of the semester. While all students tended to move from non-scholarly to scholarly sources over the semester, the students who had a library session reported using scholarly materials more than students who didn’t have a session. These students consulted online journal databases much more often, and generic Internet search engines much less often. Nearly 50% of the students who had a library session reported that they consulted a librarian in the course of the research project, while only 13% of the students without a library session reported consulting librarians.

Overall, the survey supported the faculty’s perception that Core CI has a positive effect on students’ information literacy skill development. It also serves to support the need for hands-on, face-to-face interactions within the classroom between students and librarians. The simplicity of the survey doesn’t allow us to determine why the library sessions had such a positive influence, but it does give us a very simple way to show that there is value in inviting librarians into the classroom.

We’ve used the results, as well as the growing research around the PIL study, to determine areas where instruction should be improved. Perhaps more importantly than that, the conversation around information literacy standards and expectations has improved since the survey. There are more frank, open discussions of what faculty and librarians expect from students, a key component for continuing to improve our support of student learning.

You can view a poster demonstrating the results of the 2011-2012 Core CI Information Literacy Assessment at the Colgate University Digital Commons.


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