Your teaching strategy matters: how engagement impacts application in health information literacy instruction

Heather A. Johnson, Laura C. Barrett


Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare two pedagogical methods, active learning and passive instruction, to determine which is more useful in helping students to achieve the learning outcomes in a one-hour research skills instructional session.

Methods: Two groups of high school students attended an instructional session to learn about consumer health resources and strategies to enhance their searching skills. The first group received passive instruction, and the second engaged in active learning. We assessed both groups’ learning using 2 methods with differing complexity. A total of 59 students attended the instructional sessions (passive instruction, n=28; active learning, n=31).

Results: We found that the active learning group scored more favorably in four assessment categories.

Conclusions: Active learning may help students engage with and develop a meaningful understanding of several resources in a single session. Moreover, when using a complex teaching strategy, librarians should be mindful to gauge learning using an equally complex assessment method.


Teaching; Social Learning; Psychology, Educational; Consumer Health Information; Models, Educational; Information Literacy

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Copyright (c) 2017 Heather A. Johnson

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