Instructional Strategies for Digital Reference

Megan Oakleaf, Amy VanScoy


In today’s climate of accountability in higher education, most colleges and universities—and therefore academic libraries—consider student learning the cornerstone of their missions. Reference service is one area in which libraries can demonstrate their commitment to support student learning. Are librarians using reference service to teach students? Or are they letting teachable moments pass by? This study identifies eight instructional strategies librarians can apply in digital reference transactions and analyzes the presence of these strategies in digital reference transcripts. The results suggest that librarians use a few instructional strategies, but could learn and employ several more in their efforts to create information-literate students. The authors hope that increased training in the use of these eight instructional strategies will allow librarians to maximize their impact on student learning. Portions of this article were presented at the RUSA Reference Research Forum at the 2009 ALA Annual Conference.

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