LOEX Conference Proceedings 2009

Document Type

Are We There Yet?

Publication Date



The online tutorial has emerged as a ubiquitous representation of information literacy instruction and often is the visible face of these programs. Academic libraries currently boast an expanding array of tutorials which are presented as effective alternatives and supplements to face-to-face instruction. A growing body of literature exists about the design and evaluation of the online tutorial (Atwater-Singer & Metcalf, 2006; Dewald, 1999; Hrycaj, 2005; Tronstad, Phillips, Garcia, & Harlow, 2009). Typically, evaluations focus on the quality of the tutorial or its effect on student learning. Quality questions ask whether it is engaging, easy to navigate, and up-to-date. Effectiveness questions ask whether students mastered the content or learned as much from the online tutorial as from a live class.

This paper suggests another approach to evaluating the tutorial and asks new questions of librarians. Given the central role that the tutorial has come to play in instruction programs, it is important to go beyond the typical questions. Does your instruction program do what your mission statement says it should do? Does the online tutorial reflect the library’s mission and goals for information literacy? Why does this matter?

The paper therefore examines the online tutorial in relation to the mission and goals of the library’s instruction/learning program. By comparing policy language with documents that show instruction in action, we can evaluate how well practice matches philosophy. Such evaluation is useful for clarifying what we mean by information literacy and for adjusting practice in order to (1) better align our objectives with our goals, and (2) assure that instruction is designed to achieve these objectives, or (3) revisit the mission statement.