by June Kim
American University of Health Sciences
Signal Hill, CA
As a result of receiving NNLM PSR Mini-Award funding, the American University of Health Sciences, in conjunction with the local non-profit organization 100 Black Men, presented a two-day intervention to underserved youth in the community on August 13-14, 2018. The sessions involved demonstrations on performing CPR & first aid procedures, making BMI calculations, as well as taking vital signs, measuring girth, and understanding nutrition. The library component of the project involved a research tutorial for MedlinePlus. The research tutorial included an activity for students to search for answers to specific questions, and a lesson on determining the credibility of information based on URL address endings and other various criteria.
The more mature participants demonstrated an existing understanding of keyword and database searching. Use of quotation marks to find exact phrases was the most interesting and well-received lesson for all participants. I was especially impressed with the ability and knowledge of Lance Robert Jr., a 2nd grade student who was able to narrow down a search list to eight results using the quotation mark method. They were also well aware of the prevalence of “fake news” on the internet, and the significance of URL addresses when exploring websites. For future information literacy lessons regarding websites, I would provide an activity in which they evaluate and determine whether a list of websites is fake or real.
A major lesson learned from the project was to prepare for a variety of age and learning levels. While MedlinePlus was adequately challenging for elementary school participants, the few high school level participants required a more advanced tutorial, perhaps on PubMed and how to conduct a literature review. I also realized that requiring use of MedlinePlus for their project would have guaranteed their continued use of the resource. In future endeavors, I would make the assignment more research-intensive, and require a short written paper for their project, with at least two citations to MedlinePlus content. Further, I would encourage continued use of MedlinePlus (as opposed to Google) by finding and sharing an interesting article in the database on a topic chosen by the participants themselves.
This experience has given me an idea of the information literacy levels of varying age groups, and what types of activities and lessons are appropriate and engaging. It has also motivated me to continue improving my research instruction skills. It has reminded me of the importance of outreach and education for underrepresented youth, as well as the need for collaboration and support from organizations like NNLM to carry out these goals.