- Motivating Students in Information Literacy Classes
This excellent little book is a handy reference for any librarian who wants guidance on how to improve the quality and impact of his or her library instruction and to gain more satisfaction from teaching. I say "little," because it is indeed a fairly short book with large print. Nonetheless, a great many insights are crammed into the book that will be of use to both novice and experienced instructors. Whether it is actually worth $60 has to be decided by each individual. If it were to be required in an LIS course on user instruction, however, where students have to purchase other books and articles to cover the entire course content, the price tag might be too steep.
Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged that the scope of the book is broader than the title implies. The authors have developed the book around the theme of motivation—but they use the concept as a springboard to discussing a variety of teaching techniques and issues. They begin with a discussion of motivation and learning theory, establishing the ARCS (Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction) Model as the foundation of all later discussions of specific teaching techniques and teacher behaviors. In later chapters they present ways to maximize Attention ("Capturingthe interest of learners"), Relevance ("Meeting the personal needs/goals of the learner"), Confidence ("Helping the learners to believe/feel that they will succeed"), and Satisfaction ("Reinforcing accomplishment with rewards"). (all quotes from p. 7) Jacobson and Xu relate the ARCS Model to everything from design of credit-bearing courses and teaching [End Page 280] behaviors that motivate students (e.g., enthusiasm, clarity, interaction, active learning techniques) to student autonomy, assessment, and the particular challenges of online instruction.
Both authors are instruction librarians and coordinators of instruction programs. Jacobson especially has a long career teaching both in libraries and as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Albany. She has held leadership positions in the profession and is a prolific writer on topics related to teaching and information literacy. It is apparent from the tone and style of writing that the authors are speaking from personal experiences and sharing lessons learned from surviving a wide variety of teaching situations. It is this personal quality of the rhetorical style that elevates this book from the usual teaching handbook. For example, they not only advise library instructors to speak clearly, they offer specific strategies for becoming aware of one's problems in public speaking (e.g., too many "um's" or "you know's," jargon, lack of projection) and correcting them. Throughout the text, in fact, are sprinkled instructor tips—set apart in boxes so they are easy to find. There are also examples of actual exercises that the authors developed and used themselves that can be easily adapted and adopted by others.
This book could easily be read straight through, and it is a pleasure to do so. Readability is enhanced by the straightforward language, excellent organization, and interesting illustrations. The book could also serve as a reference for librarians when they need advice about particular teaching challenges. However, it would be stronger in the latter regard if it had a better index. Some important topics addressed in the text (e.g., presentation skills) are not in the index. On the other hand, the index has entries that are not likely to be looked up or do not lead to expected content (e.g., challenges, skills, mistakes, e-mail). In the case of the "e-mail" entry, for example, it leads to a discussion of the value of sending e-mails to students outside of class not to the common problem of what to do when students are engrossed in checking their e-mail during class. Likewise, the single-word entry "confidence" leads to discussions of how to improve students' confidence not the instructor's confidence. These and other index entries seem to be lifted straight out of the text without regard for what they might convey in...