Salsa, Paso Doble, or Cumbia? Teaching Library Research Skills to Latino Students in Spanish
Despite the growing number of Latino students in higher education, little has been done to recognize the importance in integrating cultural heritage into the academic preparation of Latino students. In many instances, Spanish is an important key marker for social, personal, and political identity of students navigating the academic environment. As such, creating welcoming academic library spaces as well as developing programs that support the needs of Latino students should become part of our daily conversations in higher education institutions.
This article describes the benefits of a librarian-faculty partnership in creating an information literacy module in Spanish that integrates information literacy, research and writing skills to Spanish heritage language students in an intermediate level literature course at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). The module was implemented in the spring of 2012 and it consisted of a series of library seminars that combined curriculum content with library, research and writing skills using affective learning strategies and providing a learning space in the library where they could connect what was being taught to finding their information sources.
Each seminar focused on different topics such as information basics, defining the information need, searching and locating sources, evaluating information, emphasizing the importance of effective research and developing good writing skills (drafting, revising, and editing). For each of these topics, we utilized different library search worksheets, hands-on activities, and formal and informal surveys. Through these activities, faculty and librarian were able to involve students in critical thinking activities that helped them become more independent on their ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and use information effectively for research and writing, thereby increasing their responsibility for their own learning. This module parallels information and pedagogical efforts set by the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, “gaining skills in information literacy multiplies the opportunities for students’ self-directed learning, as they become engaged in using a wide variety of information sources to expand their knowledge, ask informed questions, and sharpen their critical thinking for still further self-directed learning.”
Students were asked to complete a pre/post tests at the beginning and at the end of library sessions. Overall, students reported having greater confidence in their research and writing skills. At the end of the course, the faculty also noticed that students had a significant improvement in the use of bibliographic sources. Most importantly, students attributed their success to four key factors: 1. instruction in the target language; 2. a nurturing learning environment; 3. ongoing assessment; and 4. task- and content-specific tailored activities. These four key factors, when combined with a pedagogical approach that is mindful of the importance of affective learning, not only address the students’ academic needs, but are aimed towards a wider understanding of what information is, what it does and how it can be applied. In other words, to accomplish the central mission of higher education in developing lifelong learners, there is much opportunity for librarian-faculty collaborations that foster personal and professional growth beyond the classroom.
Eileen K. Bosch
Associate Professor/Library Instruction Coordinator
Bowling Green State University