Info skills training – My checklist

As part of my role (assistant librarian in the healthcare public sector) I organise and deliver 1-2-1 and group information skills training. During the last year I developed and tested this checklist. Preparation is the main secret of a good info skills training.

I have to admit that people like my “teaching” style and thanks to this checklist I can time-manage my self and make sure that the information skill training is tailored around the user’s needs.

Let me give you a real example: a new staff member, a Diabetes Dietitian, just joined the Trust and requested an info skills training with me. On the form she specified that she is investigating how to manage weight during pregnancy and in post-natal period for South-Asian women. She also intended to carry a literature review on this topic.

In this case the user had a clear question in mind therefore I simply tailored the training according to her needs. Before the training I carried a brief search on Medline, selected books on the literature review process and printed some poster about the difference between a literature review / systematic review. In this way the user felt that I prepared the training in advanced (true!) and trusted my advice. During the training I performed a search on a database and she was amazed by the fact that by using a proper strategy I was able to retrieve high-quality articles for her research.

This is the feedback I received: “The training was very comprehensive. The trainer explained each stage of the process to aid my understanding. It didn’t just concentrate on the practical side of completing the literature search but included the wider skills needed for reviewing the articles and writing up”

Who me? I would say well done to myself. If I only think that a year ago I was completely new to concepts like literature search, PICO, hierarchy of evidence, systematic review, meta-analysis, RCT etc…welcome to the health information sector!

So this is my information skills training checklist:

Before the info skills training

  1. Preliminary questions in person or via phone:
    • Are they conducting a Literature Review or a Systematic Review?
    • Is this for personal/professional development or a requirement for a project within the trust?
    • What level are they working towards? E.g. Is this for vocational/academic use or will it be peer-reviewed/published?

One hour before the session

  1. Conduct a brief literature search on the topic using the databases available and retrieve a good article.
  2. Print: the article to be used as example; Systematic Review/Literature Review Comparison Chart; PICO Form.
  3. Create a note document that will be used during the training. This should include:
    • The main question
    • The stages of the literature review (Refine question; PICO; Databases available; Access full-text available)
    • References
  4. Bring relevant books along to the session that the reader may borrow (e.g. books on conducting a literature review).
  5. Make sure the PC is working and it is connected on internet

During the session

  1. Conduct a “reference interview” using questioning, listening, paraphrasing skills so you are sure you understand their needs.
  2. Edit or add on the note document any particular topic/service the user would like to explore more

After the session

  1. Ask user to fill the evaluation form
  2. Save any relevant documents created/found during the sessions in the library shared drive
  3. Email the user any relevant documentation (including the note document used during the session).
  4. Work-out any questions the user asked.

What do you think? I find it extremely useful – Happy to share it.

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Stuart Chalmers – Checklist