My article “Authentic Engagement: Assessing the Effects of Authenticity on Student Engagement and Information Literacy in Academic Library Instruction” was published today in Reference Services Review.
From the intro:
This study measures the impact of authenticity – the operation of one’s true self in one’s daily life – on student engagement and learning during information literacy instruction for English 105 classes at the R.B. House Undergraduate Library at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Kernis, 2003, p. 13; Kernis and Goldman, 2006, p. 294). The aim of the study was to empirically assess whether authenticity made a significant difference on student engagement and information literacy when students were at the stage in the research process of choosing topics for their research papers. The research hypothesis of the study was that if students developed research questions that represented aspects of their true self, it would lead to (a) increased engagement with their project, and (b) increased learning compared to students who chose more generic topics – because their research, driven by the core human value of authenticity, would be meaningful and personally significant (Rogers 1969; 1974; Klipfel 2013).
If successful, these results would be highly significant. The study would be the first to provide empirical evidence demonstrating the positive impact of authenticity on student engagement and information literacy in academic library instruction. One practical implication of this study is that it would give librarians reason to use the modeling exercise more widely as a way to facilitate student engagement with research in their libraries. The results could also be used to demonstrate the value of information literacy instruction to faculty. Librarians could use this approach of authentically engaging with students as a major selling point for their information literacy and instructional programs. Furthermore, the results would also illustrate, more generally, the potential academic librarians have to bring about meaningful, transformative educational change in their students. Rather than simply helping students find resources for their research, there would be reason to believe that librarians can also play a major role in determining the content students choose to write about; the extent to which they care about their schoolwork; and the degree to which they learn. Such an outcome would have the potential to radically expand our concept of the librarian’s pedagogical role in academic libraries.
From the conclusion:
The results of this study provide the first empirical data illustrating the importance of authenticity as it relates to student engagement and learning in the context of information literacy education. Instruction librarians can help students (a) develop authentic research questions and (b) find information related to their authentic interests in one-shot information literacy sessions. This study indicates that doing so successfully increased student engagement and information literacy compared to instruction not explicitly devoted to facilitating students’ autonomy. This gives librarians reason to experiment with authentic learning and autonomy supportive pedagogy in their own information literacy sessions. Moreover, librarians can use these results to advocate for the value of information literacy instruction to faculty members who may struggle with engaging students in the process of research. The study may also serve as inspiration for librarians to creatively seek out pedagogical approaches that will further facilitate the opportunity for students to bring their true selves to their schoolwork. Our students will be better off for it.
You can download a PDF of the whole article via Reference Services Review.