2018/19 Volume 47

Editorial: Special issue on Information Literacy Research and Practice in Singapore

By Priyanka Sharma, Editor, p1

It is my belief that scholarship – and indeed research – should be a mainstay of professional librarians everywhere. However, I also believe that it is incumbent on us to remove some of the barriers to entry and to have a fuller participation in the arena of research and writing, and to enable and encourage more of us to participate in scholarship of this nature. With that goal in mind, we decided to go ahead with a Special Issue of SJLIM – one dedicated to Information Literacy in Singapore. It was agreed that this would be more of a practitioners’ issue, with the twin goals of encouraging more librarians in Singapore to submit manuscripts and expanding the remit to include case studies, opinion pieces and commentaries.

The idea of this Special Issue was first mooted by the committee chair at a meeting of the Information Literacy (IL) committee of the CCL – Council of Chief Librarians – a body comprising Library Heads from across Singapore. I was heartened to see overwhelming support and goodwill from all the members of the CCL IL committee. The task of putting this issue together necessitated a broad participation from a large number of librarians across Singapore. In addition to the editorial team of SJLIM, IL heads of the various Singapore libraries and librarians with an interest in IL across Singapore participated enthusiastically in this endeavour – in championing scholarship, in preparing and submitting manuscripts, and in serving as peer reviewers.

It is our endeavour that the articles in this issue collectively give readers a flavour of the varied forms of IL initiatives in Singapore. Individually, we hope that the articles and case studies presented in the issue will stimulate collaboration and allow for peer learning. Most of all, it is my hope that this issue will inspire each one of us to participate more fully and enthusiastically in scholarship related to our profession – in a manner that works for our community. 

Our collective efforts have resulted in a bumper issue with 14 articles tackling topics as diverse as fake news and the use of eLearning in delivering IL content, to experiments with flipped classrooms and embedding librarians in academic settings.

I would like to dedicate this special issue to everyone who worked tirelessly in bringing it together.

National Library Board’s Public Education on Information Literacy: Teaching Citizens to Fight Fake News

By Sara Pek and Damien Wang, pp. 2-14

The spread of fake news is a real and serious problem facing many countries including Singapore. Education is one way to empower individuals to discern information. The National Library Board’s SURE (Source, Understand, Research, Evaluate) programme aims to promote information literacy and encourage Singaporeans to think critically when consuming information. Ultimately, the first line of defence against online falsehoods is a discerning and well-informed citizenry.

Librarians Joining the Fight Against Fake News: A NUS Case Study

By Raudhah Binti Muhammad Dahri and Ho Cheng Yong Richard, pp. 15-24

Since the Singapore Government published the Green Paper on Deliberate Online Falsehoods in January 2018, there has been an increasing number of concerns related to fake news in Singapore. To join the fight against fake news, two librarians from the National University of Singapore Libraries collaborated with an instructor from the Department of Communications and New Media to deliver information literacy programmes embedded within a module’s curriculum. This paper will reflect upon the experiences, methods and learning points that the librarians encountered throughout the two semesters.

Transforming Information Literacy Programmes – A Design Thinking Approach

By Kheak Hui Hiang and Agnes Liew, pp. 25-34

In today’s information ecosystem, the abundance of information choices and the prevalence of fake news and online falsehoods make information literacy a critical survival skill. Recognising the need to develop info-savvy students to prepare them for the 21st century workplace, a polytechnic library in Singapore seeks to redesign its information literacy programme by employing innovative solutions in an increasingly complex learning landscape. This paper describes the Information Literacy Programme of Nanyang Polytechnic Library. Applying the design thinking concept, the library planned, developed, implemented and reviewed user-centric solutions to integrate the information literacy e-learning modules into the schools’ curriculum. From face-to-face training to e-learning to blended approach with experiential learning through gamified activities, the library collaborated with academic schools within the Polytechnic to optimise learning outcomes. Through the enhanced use of ICT and the application of integrated pedagogies, more learners benefitted from the information literacy programme, both in terms of reach and impact.

E-Learning Journey in Ngee Ann Polytechnic Library – Our Experience: A Review on Its Effectiveness and Future Directions

By Lim Bee Ang and Hannah Dumaual, pp. 35-46

Abstract :
Ngee Ann Polytechnic Library has been creating online courseware to support its Library Orientation programme since 2013. Each development is a journey and not a destination. This paper covers the results of a 2013 study by the first author to evaluate the effectiveness of an e-Learning courseware, the inclusion of digital literacy content, tools used in the development, learning points and measurements of the e-Learning. Along the journey, the team improved on the content, delivery and aligned the e-Learning to the strategic directions of the polytechnic.

Delivering research skills to all first-year students: The Temasek Polytechnic example

By Ruby Seng and Georgiana Glass, pp. 47-56

Starting from April 2018, all first-year Temasek Polytechnic students have to take a common subject, namely, Communication and Information Literacy. As librarians were involved in the curriculum development meetings with lecturers right from the beginning, they proposed to create a self-directed online tutorial which was integrated into the curriculum. The tutorial brought students through a four-step research process in an engaging and interactive manner, and was closely tied to their assignment requirements. This enabled the students to immediately practise their new-found skills while researching for their assignment topics. Students were also expected to complete a quiz that would contribute to their final grade for the subject. At the end of the first semester, the librarians collated and analysed the data captured within each Blackboard course site. This paper includes the development process of the online tutorial; challenges faced; feedback that we received from students and staff; and areas for future improvement. As other libraries may be exploring using online platforms for instruction instead of conducting face-to-face research skills workshops, the findings presented in this paper will contribute towards more informed decisions about the feasibility of online tutorials and possible best practices.

Experiences of NUS Librarians as Lecturers of a PhD Engineering Module

By Pu Fang Chiong, Patrick and Wong Kah Wei, pp. 57-65

“No, I came in thinking it was a waste of time, but I learnt useful skills that I would use over the course of my PhD. Thank you!” … with these encouraging words from a senior student who attended the module a few semesters ago, we press on! In 2014, librarians of National University of Singapore (NUS) started teaching information literacy skills to Faculty of Engineering’s PhD students in the module EG5911 “Research Methodology and Ethics”. Back then, the information literacy component was allocated 25% of the module’s Continuous Assessment (CA). Today, the information literacy component is 40% of CA. Apart from the increase in CA, librarians are also given the liberty to revamp the information literacy syllabus and assessment of the module. This article details the journey the librarians took from teaching information literacy skills in a traditional lecture-cum-tutorial setting to a 4-hour activity-based lesson in a smart classroom.

Flipping Library Instruction: Singapore Polytechnic Library’s Experience

By Lim Xiu Ru, pp. 66-72

In line with Singapore Polytechnic’s adoption of the flipped classroom pedagogy in 2015, this paper focuses on the transition of library instruction from a traditional to a flipped approach. The librarians at Singapore Polytechnic experimented with various methods to move library instruction to Business School students from one-shot to ‘just-in-time’ delivery using EduTech tools and scaffolding. From a face-to-face delivery session at the beginning of term, we transitioned to a flipped instructional approach comprising a briefing at the beginning of term and consultation sessions in the middle of term to be in sync with periods when the students’ information needs would arise. This new approach seeks to improve the effectiveness of developing essential information literacy skills, while leveraging on technology to scale up and deliver library instruction in a sustainable manner.

Active learning in the classroom: a review of legal research teaching at Singapore Management University for first year undergraduates

By Elizabeth Naumczyk, Chai Yee Xin and Samantha Lim, pp. 73-81

When the Singapore Management University’s first-year law curriculum was redesigned to concentrate all its legal research teaching in the Legal Research and Writing course, the Law Librarians were presented with a fresh opportunity to revisit and revamp how they taught legal research. Instead of using the previous lecture-style approach, a flipped classroom approach was used to encourage active learning. Online platforms were utilized for topics that students were able to learn independently, freeing up the time for in-class activities and discussions for more complicated topics. This paper will reflect on the changes made using the flipped classroom and blended learning methods and make recommendations for the future.

Teaching of Legal Research at NUS Law School

By Carolyn Wee, Clement Lin and Lee Su-Lin, pp. 82-94

This article will explore the librarian’s role in the teaching of legal research in the National University of Singapore, Faculty of Law (“NUS Law”). In many institutions, the Law Faculty would teach this in their legal skills curriculum. However, at NUS Law, the designers of the legal skills module (“Legal Skills Team”) thought it was beneficial to bring in the librarians to jointly teach the legal research component of the course.
This article will examine how the course evolved based on faculty and student feedback and the need to adapt to the flood of Computer Assisted Legal Research (“CALR”) resources. It will also evaluate the benefits and challenges faced by all stakeholders – librarians, faculty and students alike. In conclusion, the valuable experience and insight gained from teaching legal research made the Law Library better equipped to face future challenges.

The Embedded Librarian(s) at the National University of Singapore: The Journey Continues

By Wong Kah Wei and Magdeline Ng Tao Tao, pp. 95-101

This paper aims to share the current state of embedded librarianship at National University of Singapore (NUS). The embedded librarian initiative started since 2016 at NUS with surprising positive outcomes and movements. The first embedded librarian was offered a joint appointment with Ridge View Residential College (RVRC) and holds the position of Fellow. Her teaching portfolio has also expanded to include two micro-modules to teach Year Two students reading, questioning and searching skills. In addition to the first embedded librarian at RVRC detailed in this article, one more embedded librarian was introduced in 2018. A Science Resource Librarian was appointed as the Adjunct Instructor at NUS ALSET (Institute for Application of Learning Science and Educational Technology) Education Unit. Being an Adjunct Instructor, the librarian team-teaches two modules which includes inquiry and evaluation skills.
This article delineates the story of the embedded librarian at ALSET as well as details of the new micro-modules of the RVRC embedded librarian.

Information Literacy: Diagnostics, Interventions and Assessments

By Debby R. Wegener, pp. 102-113

At the Temasek Polytechnic (TP) Library the librarians have been teaching Information Literacy (IL) and gathering feedback on these sessions for many, many years. While the students always profess to have enjoyed these sessions, what really needs to be ascertained is whether or not they have actually learned anything. The thought of trying to assess learning in hundreds of students may often be quite daunting, but a recent action research project at the TP library revealed how simple it can be. This study describes how this librarian used a diagnostic to measure prior knowledge, tailored the workshops according to the diagnostic findings, and then tried to assess how much the students had learned in the workshops. An added advantage came from the fact that the diagnostic, or pre-test, also showed just how much the Design students had remembered from their first library workshops.

Embedded Librarian at Singapore Polytechnic: A Case Study

By Francine Chu, pp. 114-118

The School of Chemical and Life Sciences (CLS) at Singapore Polytechnic welcomed an embedded librarian in October 2016. The librarian worked with several lecturers on a key initiative of the school to use existing resources and content to develop e-learning packages for continuing education and training (CET) courses. The librarian was involved in learning the course creation software and creating parts of an e-learning course, and was also able to recommend more relevant EduTech tools and e-resources to augment the courses. This paper is an account of the embedded librarian’s experience in this project and highlights some key lessons learnt.

Collaboration on a Research Literacy Module for Project Work

By Mary Ellis, pp. 119-125

Project Work (PW) is a Singapore Ministry of Education initiative introduced after the launch of “Thinking Schools. Learning Nation” in 1997. Consisting of four components: Knowledge application, communication, collaboration and independent learning, students work in groups to research a topic for a written report and oral presentation. Information /research literacy skills are an important component for successful completion of their research project. This article describes the collaboration between National Institute of Education (NIE) English Language and Literature (ELL) staff and teachers at a Singapore secondary school with the purpose of improving the information/ research literacy skills of teachers (who would then teach these skills to their students) for the delivery of PW. Through a series of discussions and online communication, the teachers decided to implement a module developed by ELL staff. Using the source evaluation checklist Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy and Purpose (Blakeslee, 2004) the module was created using the online bulletin board platform Padlet. It was implemented in the July 2018 semester and ELL staff were invited to observe the classes where it was taught and provide feedback to the teachers. This collaboration with the goal of improving information/research literacy skills could serve as a model for other schools.

Trial by Fire, Boot Camps and Brown Bags: How Do We Learn to Teach?

By Rajen Munoo, pp. 126-133

Remember teaching your first instruction class? What worked and what bombed? How much preparation time did it take you? What was the student’s reaction? Did you get any help? Very often, librarians are required to teach with little or no formal training and this can cause a lot of anxiety and stress. In this paper, the author will share different continuing professional development (CPD) activities such as team teaching, boot camps and brown bags to help new librarians teaching instruction and information literacy classes. Should instruction librarians have teaching qualifications as our educator roles become more pronounced? What are some of the future skills for instruction librarians?