Reading, Research, and Writing: Teaching Information Literacy with Process-Based Research Assignments. By Mary Snyder Broussard. Chicago: ACRL, 2017. 140 p. Paper. $40 (ISBN: 978-0-8389-8875-6).

Research papers are ubiquitous in college, as common for freshmen as they are for seniors. To support these assignments, librarians typically have been limited to “go-here-click-that” one-shot sessions. Frequently, the results are faculty who are unhappy with the quality of student papers and librarians who are frustrated that they cannot contribute more to student learning and success. Reading, Research, and Writing takes scholarship from psychology, education, library science, and rhetoric and communication and, in six concise chapters, demonstrates that focusing on the messy process of research, rather than its product, leads to better learning outcomes. To keep the spotlight firmly on this untidy process, the phrase “writing from sources” rather than “research paper” is used throughout the book.

Library instruction sessions often teach a linear strategy of finding, evaluating, and using information, but this is far from the true process of writing from sources, which is “frustrating and iterative” (26). Two chapters devoted to writing address ways to reduce students’ frustration as they draft their assignments. The first of these chapters presents the strategy of “low-stakes writing.” Outlines, annotated bibliographies, and concept maps are examples of how faculty can divide research and writing into segments that are more manageable for students. The second of these chapters examines high-stakes writing, focusing on the research assignment itself and presenting ways that librarians can work with faculty to redesign assignments. Sample assignments that support information synthesis and writing are also provided.

An especially interesting chapter focuses on an ability that students are often assumed to possess: reading. When it comes to scholarly articles, however, this is often a faulty assumption. Reading academic writing is a talent that few students learn in high school, and poor reading inevitably leads to poor writing. This chapter provides several reading comprehension strategies that can be taught within a library session and that will enhance students’ understanding and evaluation of academic articles.

Reading, Research, and Writing provides a range of solid alternatives to remedy the weaknesses inherent in traditional forms of information literacy instruction. These strategies help academic librarians “go beyond helping students find information to helping them use information” (89). Readers will recognize parallels to the ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, and the author references the Framework throughout. However, a strength of this book is that it draws from research outside of library science and provides a vocabulary that can improve communication between librarians and faculty. Each chapter also comes with a substantial bibliography enabling readers to investigate the theories more thoroughly. With its succinct menu of research, techniques, and assignments, this compact book is an excellent guide for librarians who want to make the transition to process-based instruction.—Ann Agee, Librarian, School of Information, San Jose State University, San Jose, California


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