Teaching and Learning with U of T’s Libraries
The University of Toronto library system offer resources and services to support TAs and CIs in delivering courses, and to help enhance students’ learning experience.
Where to start?
A good place to start as a new TA or CI is to consider what your students will need to know about conducting library research to be successful in your course.
Your students will likely need to know how to:
- Locate and acquire items from the library’s collection
- Access course reserves
- Critically assess sources (by practicing “click restraint”, spotting misinformation, and distinguishing scholarly, peer-reviewed sources)
- Cite and organize their sources
- Book a virtual consultation with a librarian
Don’t forget about your own familiarity with library research…
As a graduate student, you may be more familiar with library systems from other postsecondary institutions.
You can request a one-on-one librarian consultation at any time to learn more about how to:
- Use subject-specific tools, such as the research guides curated by U of T librarians
- Strengthen your comprehensive searching skills
- Craft knowledge syntheses (systematic, scoping, and other review types) to better contextualize and integrate your research findings
- Access other library services and resources available to graduate students
Library consultations do not need to relate exclusively to your research or teaching. You can come with general research questions and explore emerging areas of academic interests.
Partnering with Liaison Librarians
Who are they?
Liaison Librarians bring specialized skills and experience in developing and utilizing library resources in a particular subject. As partners throughout the stages of the research lifestyle, Liaison Librarians work with undergraduate and graduate students and faculty to search for the appropriate library services and resources, and support university teaching and learning
Find the Liaison Librarian in your academic unit here: http://resource.library.utoronto.ca/liaison/
What can they do?
Your Liaison Librarian can work with you to:
- Create course reserves and, when possible, provide online access to course readings
- Ensure that course readings are copyright compliant
- Design and implement online research projects
- Scaffold tasks in research assignments
- Support student research leading up to assignment deadlines through drop-in sessions and in-class instruction
Liaison Librarians can come visit your class and introduce students to best practices for conducting academic research, ranging from developing a searchable research question and modeling effective search strategies to locating primary sources, and/or citing sources.
If you ask your students to do research, can they do it? Liaison Librarians are also available to collaborate and critically assess course syllabi, assisting with course alignment and locating critical readings.
Online research guides
In some cases, Liaison Librarians have already developed helpful, comprehensive research guides that may be applicable to your course and/or discipline. You can search the existing online research guides by subject, course code, general purpose, and library.
Lastly, encourage your students to make use of the library supports by consulting with liaison librarians directly, whether through one-on-one consultations or the Ask a Librarian chat feature on the library website.
Other Library Research Considerations
Navigating Research Challenges
Often, students begin teaching in their programs without receiving formal training on how to conduct library research. In such cases, it is important to explore additional training opportunities available to you as a student.
Students begin their studies at the University of Toronto with different levels of experience with research, or “information literacy.”
Information literacy refers to a continuum of “skills, behaviours, and approaches and values” that shape how information is accessed, understood, and used (Coonan, 2011, p. 5). This continuum of competencies is a fundamental element of successful learning, scholarship, and research.
Because some students have varying and often limited access to resources to conduct academic research prior to their studies at the university, we need to be aware of information privilege in how we frame assessments.
Awareness of information privilege includes:
- Ensuring that the language of research abilities does not overlook the different levels of literacy and access.
- Referring students to different resources and supports to help them develop their research competencies and reduce barriers to access.
Resource adapted from Library Time-Saving Tips for TAs/CIs by Heather Buchansky and Courtney Lundrigan, CDI Course Design Support from the University of Toronto Libraries by Heather Buchansky, Monique Flaccavento and Mindy Thuna, and Time-Saving Tips for Instructors from the Library by Rita Vine
Updated resource created by Nicole Birch-Bayley, Navroop Gill, and Heather Buchansky © 2022