Train the Trainer: Ideas & Tips to Help Faculty Teach Information Literacy- Outline


On March 19, 2018, Marielle McNeal, a librarian and Head of Teaching and Learning Services at North Park University and a member of the Instruction Committee, presented the webinar, “Train the Trainer: Ideas & Tips to Help Faculty Teach Information Literacy.” In this webinar, McNeal presented the details of several online and in-person workshops that she developed to equip teaching faculty at North Park University with the knowledge and skills to provide information literacy instruction in their own classrooms. She also suggested ways to begin conversations with teaching faculty about information literacy and how to bridge terminological divides between the two groups.

Train the Trainer: Ideas & Tips to Help Faculty Teach Information Literacy

Marielle McNeal, North Park University
Presented on March 19, 2018

“Train the trainer” is a model used to describe the practice of training faculty on the best ways to teach information literacy to students.  Offering “train the trainer” opportunities is essential for a strong information literacy program, particularly at small to medium-sized academic libraries that rely heavily on one-shot sessions.  The goal of the “train the trainer” model is to expand the reach of information literacy instruction by targeting faculty that teach courses across various disciplines. In this webinar, the presenter shared ideas and tips for equipping faculty with the skills that they need to effectively teach information literacy.

Webinar Learning Outcomes

By the end of the webinar, attendees were able to :

  1. Recognize the challenges and barriers that faculty often encounter in their approach to teaching information literacy.
  2. Provide examples of teaching strategies, language choices, and conversation starters that can improve their communication with faculty.
  3. Identify train-the-trainer opportunities on their campus that leverage faculty professional development to improve student learning.


  • Marielle McNeal is the Head of Teaching and Learning Services at North Park University in Chicago, where she coordinates and leads the library’s efforts to integrate information literacy across the curriculum. She received a bachelor’s degree in English and Professional Writing from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is currently working toward a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration and Leadership. Her professional interests include information literacy instruction for at-risk students, information literacy in the health sciences field, and the librarian’s role in faculty development.

Whose responsibility is it teach information literacy?

Information literacy instruction is a dual responsibility of librarians and faculty. The introductory text for the ACRL Framework emphasizes the importance of faculty collaboration and professional development. The ACRL Framework states that:

  • "Teaching faculty have a greater responsibility in designing curricula and assignments that foster enhanced engagement with the core ideas about information and scholarship within their disciplines." (ACRL Framework, 2015)
  • "Librarians have a greater responsibility in identifying core ideas within their own knowledge domain that can extend learning for students, in creating a new cohesive curriculum for information literacy, and in collaborating more extensively with faculty." (ACRL Framework, 2015)

Teaching Information Literacy: Librarian Frustrations vs. Faculty Challenges

There are a number of common challenges and frustrations that librarians face in their work with faculty. For example, librarians may feel like their instruction efforts are unsuccessful due to miscommunication with faculty. They may also feel like poorly designed assignments make it challenging to plan one-shot sessions. Lastly, librarians often feel under or utilized because of faculty expectations.

However, in addition these common challenges and frustrations, faculty are faced with their own barriers when it comes to teaching information literacy. Faculty often:

  • Have a limited understanding of the factors that affect students’ information literacy.
  • Are unfamiliar with information literacy concepts and knowledge practices.
  • Have limited time in their course syllabus to incorporate additional topics, content, or assignments.
  • Are unaware of the best practices for teaching and incorporating information literacy into their course or discipline.

What is train the trainer?

The "train the trainer" model can be useful in the effort to fully integrate information literacy into the curriculum and impact student learning on a larger scale. Train the Trainer focuses on educating faculty about the challenges and barriers that students encounter when doing research. Faculty are also educated about the best practices and strategies for teaching information literacy. Lastly, librarians train faculty how to integrate and scaffold information literacy into their courses. Instead of focusing only on educating students, the "train the trainer" model equally prioritizes the importance of educating faculty.

Train the Trainer Ideas

Before developing a “train the trainer” program at your library, first think about the ways you can take advantage of the professional development opportunities that are already available on your campus. For example, is there a new faculty seminar or group that meets regularly on your campus? Is there a faculty common read program or book discussion group? The following “train the trainer” ideas were briefly highlighted during the webinar:  

  • Workshops: Lead a single workshop or series on information literacy teaching strategies or the best practices for designing effective research assignments.  Librarians can also design a workshop series that is based on each of the ACRL’s Frames.
  • New Faculty Seminar: New faculty are usually eager and open to receiving help when it comes to designing a new assignment or course.  Talk to your Provost or Dean about offering a “train the trainer” session during the new faculty seminar.
  • Book Discussions/Common Read: Suggest a book or group of articles on the topic of information literacy, scaffolding research skills, or innovation teaching strategies.
  • Online Learning: Collaborate with your online learning department to design a self-paced course, tutorials, modules, or a webinar.

Survey Your Faculty

If you uncertain about what “train the trainer” topics the faculty on your campus would benefit from the most, start by surveying a select group. Examples of survey questions include:

  1. What critical thinking/research skills are the most challenging to teach? (Refining a topic, developing a good research topic, finding sources, evaluating sources, incorporating sources, plagiarism/misuse of sources, etc.)
  2. What types of professional develop/training opportunities do you prefer?  (Webinars, in-person workshops, self-paced courses, reading/discussion groups, online tutorials/modules, etc.)

Train the Trainer Topics

If you prefer not to send a survey, there are several “train the trainer” topics that faculty on just about every campus could benefit from learning more about:

  1. Creating Effective Research Assignment: There is an abundance of assignment “checklists” that librarians have created and made available online. However, many faculty could benefit from learning how to properly scaffold information literacy skills into an assignment.
  2. Assignment Ideas: The traditional 8-10 page paper is often not the most effective way to teach research skills. Faculty can benefit from learning new ways to teach students how to develop good research questions, evaluate sources, analysis sources, etc. The ACRL Framework Toolkit has some great assignment ideas.

Assignment Design Webinar

In Fall 2017, the presenter facilitated a “train the trainer” webinar for the faculty at North Park University. The webinar focused on Best Practices for Creating Effective Research Assignments. The goal of the webinar was to provide seven simple best practices for designing effective research assignments that faculty could use to create new assignments or revise existing ones.

Learning Outcomes for Faculty Attending the Webinar:

  • Understand the common challenges and barriers that student encounter when doing research.
  • Understand how the best practices for designing effective research assignments can positively impact student learning.
  • Understand the benefits of collaborating with a librarian when creating or revising a research assignment.

The webinar focused on the following seven best practices:

  1. Determining the learning goals for the assignment
  2. Identifying the appropriate type of assignment
  3. Knowing your students’ research preparedness
  4. Providing a roadmap/guide for the assignment
  5. Scaffolding the assignment
  6. Testing the assignment
  7. Collaborating with a librarian

Planning the Webinar:

The webinar was part of the “Webinar Wednesday Series” that was started by the Center for Online Education at North Park University. The series was originally created to educate faculty about various tips for using the Canvas Learning Management System. However, the series was then expanded to include more general teaching and learning topics.
The following chart provides details on the presenter's planning process for the webinar:

Logistics Checklist
  • Canvas LMS
  • Big Blue Button (integrates with Canvas)
  • Learning Outcomes
  • Identify 7 best practices to highlight
  • Webinar Wednesdays Series
  • Email reminders sent to faculty
  • Create slides
  • Outline/Notes
  • Webinar recording saved to Vimeo and posted to Canvas
  • Assessment

In addition to recording of the webinar, an assignment design template was also made available to faculty. The template provided faculty with a step by step process for designing a research assignment. The template also asked faculty to reflect on the following questions:

  • How does the assignment align or integrate with the learning outcomes for the course?
  • What are the learning targets for the assignment?
  • What are the most critical steps of the assignment? How will you break this into small parts?

In-Person Workshops

In addition to the Assignment Design Webinar, the presenter also facilitated two in-person workshops at North Park University. The first workshop was tailored for faculty that teach the first-year seminar course. The second workshop was targeted for faculty interested in participating in the university’s new Catalyst Semester.

Workshop 1: Critical Thinking and Information Sources in the First Year Seminar Course
Learning Outcomes:

  • Understand the common challenges and barriers that first-year students encounter when navigating the information landscape.
  • Understand the importance of incorporating beginner level “information literacy” related assignments in the first-year seminar course.
  • Develop an information literacy assignment that helps students improve their critical thinking skills.

Workshop 2: Creating Effective Research Assignments for City-Centered Learning
Learning Outcomes:

  • Understand the purpose and benefit of incorporating city-centered research assignments into a course.
  • Understand the common challenges and barriers in finding, accessing, and analyzing Chicago neighborhood data/information.
  • Understand the best practices for designing city-centered research assignments.
  • Understand the value of collaborating with a librarian when designing city-centered research assignments.

Tips for Educating Faculty:

  1. Instructional Design:  Dumping loads of information on faculty will not help to facilitate learning! Use an instructional design model to help organize content in a way that will help faculty understand and retain the information. For the in-person workshops, the presenter used Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction.
    Event What is it? How to use it
    Gain attention Capture learners' attention. Show a video, share an article, or the findings from a report about information literacy.
    Describe instructional goal Explain why it is useful. Handout or PowerPoint with Learning Objectives.
    Stimulate prior knowledge Help connect what they already know or have tried with what they will learn. Ask faculty to share what strategies/assignments they have tried in the past.
    Present material to be learned Organize material into segments/chunks. Present content but also incorporate time for discussion.
    Provide guidance for learning Provide support and resources. Handouts, Libguide, Examples of Activities/Assignments
    Elicit performance (practice) Allow learner to apply skills. Worksheet Assignment Design Template
  2. Build Your Case: Use recent research about information literacy such as Project Information Literacy publications or Stanford University’s “Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning” report to communicate the importance of information literacy instruction.  Presenting assessment data about the information literacy skills of first-year students on your campus is also helpful.
  3. Conversation Starters: Use conversation starters to help faculty reflect on information literacy and student learning. Some examples of conversation starters include:
    • What do you wish your students better understood about research?
    • What part of the research process do your students struggle with the most?
    • What is missing from your students’ research assignments/papers?
    • What part of your assignment is the most challenging for students?
    • What critical thinking skills or knowledge are needed for research in your discipline?
  4. Language Choices:  Avoid library jargon! Listen closely to to the words/phrases that faculty use when discussing information literacy.
    Librarians Faculty
    Information Literacy Critical Thinking
    Intelligent Use of Information
    Critical Analysis
    Integrating/Scaffolding Information Literacy Research Process
    Research Steps
    Life-long Learning Self-motivation
    Personal development
  5. Invite Your Supporters:  If you are offering a "train the trainer" workshop on your campus, invite 1-2 faculty members that you have a successfully worked with in the past. Ask them to share what they have learned about information literacy from working with you. Lastly, be transparent about the collaboration and learning process.

Resources to Share with Faculty

Recommended Readings

  • Cox, J. L., & VanderPol, D. (2004). Promoting information literacy: A strategic approach. Research Strategies, 20(1/2), 69-76.
  • Meulemans, Y. N., & Carr, A. (2013). Not at your service: building genuine faculty-librarian partnerships. Reference Services Review, 41(1), 80-90.
  • Smith, R.L., & Mundt, K.E. (2006). Philosophical Shift: Teach the Faculty to Teach Information Literacy [White Paper]. Retrieved March 10, 2018, from Association of College and Research Libraries:
  • Veach, G. L. (2009). Teaching Information Literacy to Faculty: An Experiment. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 16(1), 58-70.