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LibGuides: FSU Standards & Evolving Practice

Shared goals for creating learner-centered research guides at FSU Libraries.

Pedagogy: The Basics

In addition to exhibiting good web design, Research Guides also have an educational purpose. How you apply instructional design to your guides will in some ways reflect your personal pedagogy. Just as in a physical classroom, the teaching strategies you select for your research guides should be informed by your understanding of how students learn, your specific learning objectives, and the context in which learning takes place.

Learning Objectives

Whether implicit or listed on the homepage, you should have clear learning objectives for every guide. What do you intend a visitor to your guide to learn? Consider the following:

  • Most research guides teach some aspect of the research process. What does your guide contribute to learning how to research?
  • Research guides are context specific. Who is the likely audience for your guide? Does your guide speak to the needs of that audience?
    • Course guides: target audience is students enrolled in the course. What will these students learn to help them complete a research assignment or other course-specific objective?
    • Subject guides: target audience is likely students taking any course in the discipline, both majors and non-majors. What will these students learn about conducting research in the discipline that will help them now and in future courses?
    • Topical guides: target audience may be students taking a related course, students with an interest in the topic, or non-FSU affiliates who are interested in the topic. How will your guide sustain that topical interest or invite new ways of exploring it?
    • General purpose guides: target audience is students needing an academic skill, often just in time. Will visitors to your guide leave knowing what to do (e.g. format a citation, organize a literature review)?

Organizing & Describing Resources

  • Sort your lists of resources in a way that makes sense for your learning objectives or the context of learning. Visitors to your guide will mostly likely click the first link on the page, so your first link should be the most important or useful.
  • Avoid long lists of resources. Break them up into small lists with a clear organizational logic to help visitors navigate the page. Several short lists organized by content type are better than one long list organized alphabetically.
  • Keep database and link descriptions brief. If you want to include more detailed instructions for how to use this resource effectively, consider using additional text, images, or video along with the basic description.
  • More About Databases: While database assets are centrally managed, you can (and should!) customize the database description on your page. Consider replacing the default description, often provided by the vendor, with a description that speaks to your audience about how and why they should use this resource.

Active Learning

Research guides are a form of asynchronous instruction. While we can use guides during our synchronous, face-to-face instruction sessions, a well-constructed guide also allows students to learn at the own pace, when and where they are ready to learn.

Just like synchronous, face-to-face instruction, asynchronous instruction should also include active learning strategies. The following are just a few ideas for integrating active learning into your guides.

  • Does your guide include open-ended questions that may guide students' thinking or stimulate reflection?
  • Does your guide model a research behavior and then encourage students to test their skills?
  • Does your guide have navigational elements that create a narrative about the research process, guiding students through their own thinking and practice? (Lee & Lowe, 2018)
  • Is content provided in "chunks" or modules that allow students to determine their point of entry and repeat learning tasks as needed? (Watts, 2018)
  • Does your guide include interactive components?

There is no single, correct way to promote active learning in your research guides. Be creative. Experiment. Seek feedback from your target audience.

Suggested Readings

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