Provocation to Learn - A Study in the Use of Personal Response Systems in Information Literacy Instruction

Maura Alicia Matesic, Jean M Adams


The appearance of Personal Response Systems (PRS) or “clickers” in university classrooms has opened an avenue for new forms of communication between instructors and students in large-enrolment classes. Because it allows instructors to pose questions and receive tabulated responses from students in real-time, proponents of this technology herald it as an innovative means for encouraging higher levels of participation, fostering student engagement, and streamlining the assessment process. Having already been experimentally deployed across disciplines ranging from business to the arts and sciences, it is also beginning to be used in the context of information literacy instruction. In this project we employed the technology not to transfer actual skills, but to advertise the existence of online library guides, promote the use of the library within the context of the course itself, and “provoke” students to adopt a more active approach to research as a recursive process. Our findings suggest that students adapt easily to the use of this technology and feel democratically empowered to respond to their instructors in a variety of ways that include anonymous clicker responses as well as more traditional means such as the raising of hands and posing questions verbally. The particular value of this study was to show that these broader findings seem equally applicable to pedagogical settings in which learning objectives are built around and integrated with the principles of information literacy.

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Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research (ISSN: 1911-9593)