Building a Sustainable Life Science Information Literacy Program Using the Train-the-Trainer Model
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The train-the-trainer model has great potential for expanding information literacy programs without placing undue burden on already overextended librarians; it is surprisingly underused in academic libraries. At the University of Kentucky, we employed this model to create a new information literacy program in an introductory biology lab. We trained biology teaching assistants (TAs), each of whom was responsible for teaching two lab sections, to teach scientific database searching and Endnote Online to undergraduates. Over the first two semesters, we taught or co-taught 78 sessions of BIO 155 (nearly 2,200 attendees), with the librarian only in attendance at TA training and a total of 14 class sessions. Here we describe the program from its inception in late 2012 through the present, covering such topics as course coordinator buy-in, class design, active learning exercises, and assessment. Of particular note is the progression of our training program, which evolved from a style encouraging imitation toward one inspiring TAs to personalize the subject matter. We believe this approach inspired TAs to reflect on the importance of information literacy in their own research and to emphasize its relevance to undergraduates.