Supporting WPOnline Students through Information Literacy

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       The recent success and growth of WP Online has broadened the Cheng Library’s instruction and outreach efforts. WP Online students matriculate and complete a degree without having to come to campus or the Library; those students expect the same experiences and research support that students in traditional, face-to-face classes do. However, asynchronous instruction and shortened, seven-week classes have made it difficult for faculty to schedule information literacy lessons taught by library faculty. After the launch of WP Online, the Library examined incoming instruction requests and noted that nearly all were traditional on-campus courses. That meant that few students in online courses—many of whom are returning or adult students— weren’t receiving the valuable information literacy instruction and support that they needed.  

In response to this finding, the Library’s User Education Coordinators, Cara Berg & Tony Joachim developed a new model for information literacy instruction and partnered with the Center for Degree Completion and Adult Learning to support these students. During the summer of 2022, the Library began offering instructional webinars to WP Online students during each 7-week session. Three different 30-minute lessons were designed to cover essential information literacy skills through a mixed synchronous/asynchronous approach. Offered in the evenings to accommodate working students’ schedules, live lessons created an opportunity for students to engage with and ask questions of library faculty. The webinar recordings were then made available to students who were unable to attend or chose to cover the content on their own. The webinars have proven popular, and during the fall 2023 semester, over 230 students registered and 128 students attended. Through our partnership with the Center for Degree Completion and Adult Learning, the success of these skill-based webinars has encouraged us to work with three other academic programs--MBA, Nursing, and ASD-DD--to provide similar online support for students!

We know that students value information literacy instruction from data collected through post-instruction feedback surveys. Most of the feedback is positive, often with close to 90% of students stating that they learned something new from the session. In addition, open-ended responses highlight the engagement of a live session and point to wanting more sessions, with students even stating that they wish they had instruction in earlier classes. This prior feedback is what led the Library to develop a program that didn’t just record lessons for students to view but encouraged a higher level of engagement with library faculty.

The Cheng Library consistently aims to assist students in becoming information-literate individuals. Traditional instruction, where a subject-specialist librarian teaches students valuable skills to support the successful completion of assignments and courses, is still very much in use. But, with the transformation of learning provided by WP Online, the Library’s approach to information literacy instruction has also transformed.

To learn more about our User Education program, please contact Cara Berg ( or Tony Joachim (