Embedded Peer Inquiry Specialists: A Gateway to Information Literacy


peer learning
embedded librarianship
information literacy
undergraduate education

How to Cite

Salomon, D., Glassman, J., Lee, S., & Reiley, A. (2016). Embedded Peer Inquiry Specialists: A Gateway to Information Literacy. Nordic Journal of Information Literacy in Higher Education, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.15845/noril.v8i1.255


Peer-assisted learning has been embraced by higher education as a way to boost student success. At the same time, academic librarians have found embedded librarianship to be an effective way to develop students' information literacy skills. The embedded librarianship model, however, is difficult to scale. The UCLA Library is testing a program that combines embedded librarianship with peer learning to solve some of the challenges associated with those models.

The program works by embedding a student who has completed a General Education (GE) lecture course back into the current year's course to help students with research and writing assignments. The embedded student, called an "Inquiry Specialist,” is nominated by that course's faculty. The program launched in 2015 in five courses that serve a total of 830 students. Assessment is ongoing and includes: 1. IRB-approved study that will compare data (grades, retention, first-generation status, etc.) from students who connected with an Inquiry Specialist with those who did not; 2. Information literacy pre- and post-assessments; 3. Analysis of course evaluations; 4. Student survey.

Results indicate that the combined model is an effective and scalable gateway to information literacy. During the first six weeks of Fall, 830 students (15% of the freshman class) attended a 40-minute library orientation. Approximately 20% of the 830 students subsequently sought additional help from the Inquiry Specialists. An analysis of course evaluations demonstrated that students in courses with an Inquiry Specialist rated their improvement in library and research skills 25% and 19% higher, respectfully, than students in courses without an Inquiry Specialist. Student scores on the information literacy quiz increased by an average of 9%. When surveyed, 68% of students said the Inquiry Specialists were “Very Helpful” (36%) or “Helpful” (34%). Plans are underway to double the size of the program in the 2016-17 academic year.


Copyright (c) 2016 Danielle Salomon, Julia Glassman, Simon Lee, Alicia Reiley

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