Since 2013, DePaul University librarians have collaborated with teachers and administrators at DePaul College Prep High School to enhance the information literacy instruction provided to Prep students. Based on our long-time engagement in Chicago Quarter, DePaul University’s first-year-experience program, and our involvement in research projects such as Assessment in Action, our focus to date has been on sharing with Prep teachers what we have learned about the information literacy skills that students need to master in the transition from high school to college in order to ensure their academic success. This year, we have expanded those efforts to include providing information literacy instruction to Prep students engaged in research-intensive programs.
With Prep’s recent certification as an International Baccalaureate World School, the DePaul University Library embraced the new opportunity to work with students in their junior and senior years as they complete the “extended essay” required for completion of the IB Diploma. On October 30, 2015, a dozen students from Prep’s first cohort of IB students visited the John T. Richardson Library for instruction in selecting a topic and the early stages of the research process. “I was impressed with the engagement and connection students felt with regards to the topics and ideas they planned to explore,” said Heather Jagman, Coordinator for Reference, Instruction, and Academic Engagement. “Choosing a topic is a big part of the research process.” With initial topic ideas ranging from the science and policy framework around the use of food additives in the U.S., to the impact of gang violence on the local economy, to the history of genocide in the Balkans, Prep students benefited from their access to the scholarly resources and research assistance available through the university library. “For most of these students,” DePaul Prep English Teacher Emily Hochman said, “this is their first exposure to extended academic research. Their experience here will carry through to help them with all their IB courses, and will carry through to college.” DePaul librarians will continue to provide support to IB students and teachers as they continue the research that will lead to the completion of the extended essay in the senior year.
DePaul Prep students have also taken advantage of access to university librarians as part of their extra-curricular activities. On October 9, 2015, students from the Speech and Debate Team came to the library for instruction in how to use academic sources to locate information on topics for upcoming competitions.
The DePaul University Library has made a commitment to provide support to the faculty and students at DePaul College Prep High School as part of its contributions to the university’s strategic goals of deepening the university’s connection to the city of Chicago and strengthening our Catholic and Vincentian identity. At the same time, we are committed to fostering information literacy across the K-20 spectrum and to exploring how early engagement with DePaul Prep students may complement Prep educational initiatives such as the IB program and the installation of an “Innovation Lab.” Together with our colleagues in other academic programs, the library’s contributions to information literacy instruction, according to Robert Karpinski, DePaul’s Director of Catholic School Initiatives, promise to have a “real impact [on] teaching and learning at this school.”