Carleton Librarians helping develop bilingual course to develop undergraduate research skills

Carleton University has received approximately $800,000 in funding to support Ontario’s Virtual Learning Strategy (VLS). In response to a recent call out from eCampusOntario, Carleton submitted 14 proposals for hybrid and online learning projects as the lead institution, of which 10 have been accepted. Carleton instructors are also collaborating on an additional 13 projects that are led by other Ontario post-secondary institutions.

Librarians David C. Jackson and Martha Attridge Bufton, and colleagues from Université Saint-Paul and the University of Ottawa, are part of one Carleton-led team that put in a successful proposal. This team is developing a bilingual first-year undergraduate course that will help undergraduate students to develop the research and information literacy skills needed for both academic and professional success. 

Their online, open access course, A research foundations course for first-year undergraduate students in the arts and social sciences: A collaborative digital initiative, is scheduled to be released in the summer of 2022. The course will be designed to be taught by librarians and the team is taking a collaborative approach to curricular development to ensure that this first-year seminar will promote student engagement in an active, participatory online classroom. 

“There is considerable scientific and anecdotal evidence that students benefit from learning foundational research skills starting in their first year,” says Martha (Attridge Bufton). “By combining our pedagogical knowledge and experiences, we think that arts and social sciences students who take this first-year seminar will learn to identify, find, and access sources and to write a literature review—a core skill that they will be able to use throughout their academic life.”

Key course learning goals and outcomes include:

  • Determine the initial scope of the task required to meet their information needs;
  • Match information needs and search strategies to appropriate search tools;
  • Understand that research is a process of inquiry and is iterative in nature; 
  • Design and refine needs and search strategies as necessary, based on search results;
  • Understand the difference between primary and secondary sources and their role in the research process; 
  • Define and contextualize informational authority;
  • Use indicators of authority to determine the credibility of sources;
  • Understand and operationalize ethical information creation and use;
  • Contribute to scholarly conversation at an appropriate level, such as guided class discussion, research tracking journal, and other course activities.

“This course will be available in both English and French, says David C. Jackson. “In addition, content will be designed to ensure that instructors can adapt the curriculum as needed to meet the learning needs of their students.”

“I am so pleased for Martha and David,” says Amber Lannon, University Librarian of the funding. “This is an incredible demonstration of how we in the library have the expertise to be leaders in online learning.”

More information about all of the recently announced projects is available at