Librarian-instructor partnerships: Empowering students to share their research with the community

Maoria Kirker, Kerry Folan

Session Information

Year: 2016 | Time: 2:45pm-3:25pm | Location: Innovation Hall (Room 105)


In the fall of 2015 a George Mason University librarian and a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) in the English department, designed an extensive collaboration for a Composition 101 research project. Through this collaboration, not only did students’ research skills improve, but students also reported feeling empowered to reach out to the librarian directly to make appointments; to use the library independently (a resource most of them had not yet utilized in their time at Mason); and to approach librarians they did not know personally. Students designed a creative solution to a community problem, framed as a “proposal for change.” For extra credit, students had the option to “go public” with their proposal, sending it to the community member with the ability to implement the suggested change, indicating a sense of pride and confidence in their work.


This presentation will outline the logistics of the instructor/librarian collaboration; identify the elements to change in the future; and offer suggestions for instructors trying to form a similar partnership. Additionally, it will offer three perspectives on the success of the collaboration: the instructor’s, the librarian’s, and the students’, which were collected through written surveys and oral interviews. This session will appeal to GTAs, course coordinators, FYC instructors, gen-ed faculty, and librarians. At the conclusion of the session, the audience will have insight into the pros and cons of the “proposal for change” assignment design, student reactions to this co-teaching strategy, and strategies for building a similar partnership in their own classroom.


student writing; assessment; critical thinking; creativity; reflective practice; composition; community-based learning; experiential learning; inquiry-based assignments; undergraduates

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