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Lindsay Hansen

Lindsay Hansen

Linguistics/College of Humanities


Understanding the Research Process: A Library Guide for Undergraduate English Language Learners

Faculty Mentor: MaryAnn Christison - Linguistics/College of Humanities

Faculty Mentor: Darby Fanning - Education Services/Marriott Library


Developing effective research practices is a perennial challenge for university students, especially for English Language Learners (ELLs) who are also navigating linguistic and perhaps cultural differences. Online library guides provide 24 hour research support; however, the pedagogical approach is not often questioned and these guides may therefore be less accessible to ELLs (Sikinson, Alexander, Hicks & Kahn, 2012). Research in language acquisition and second language (L2) pedagogy supports the integration of content, language, and learning strategy instruction (Kong, 2009; Grabe & Stoller, 1997). The purpose of this project is to develop an online library guide for ELLs at the University of Utah using best practices in L2 pedagogy to accommodate students’ need to develop both university-level research and academic language skills. The library guide’s target demographic is students completing their core writing requirement through the English as a Second Language (ESL) program but since the library guide is hosted through the Marriott Library, it will be available to ELLs conducting research in any department on campus and the content is intended to be adaptable to any discipline.


The library guide was designed using student, instructor, and departmental surveys and focus groups to assess the content, pedagogy, ease of use, and relevance of each module. The competency-based modules focus on library navigation, accessing research databases, evaluating sources, avoiding plagiarism, and citation conventions. Language development and learning strategy instruction is fully integrated into the research content. Each module contains language and content objectives, an instructional portion, links to resources, and an assessment. The guide also contains a section for instructors of ELLs on how to use the guide as a teaching tool and how to address students' research-related language needs. The instructor guide also features a “Reading Room”, a compiled list of annotated sources on library instruction, L2 teaching, and learning strategy instruction.  


With the number of ELL students growing rapidly on campus, it is essential to develop resources to support the academic success of this important population. The library guide will add to the significant resources of the Marriott Library, particularly for the Education Services librarians who work specifically with ELLs. The library guide will also be fully-integrated into the ESL program to help standardize writing and research instruction throughout the three-course writing series. The design and layout of the guide is meant to be adaptable and accessible; if a particular department had need for a more discipline-specific research guide for ELLs, one could be developed using it as a template. Input from ESL student and instructor surveys and focus groups are an integral part of the guide curriculum development process; in addition, student and instructor perceptions of the guide's usefulness will be formally assessed next year as part of my M.A. thesis.


Lindsay Hansen poster
Last Updated: 7/27/18