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Digital research notebook: a simple tool for reflective learning

Julia A. Glassman (Library, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Douglas M. Worsham (Library, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 12 June 2017




This paper aims to outline the ongoing development, implementation and evaluation of a digital research notebook designed to support hybrid and online approaches to information literacy development in one-shot, course-integrated and full course instruction.


The paper describes the authors’ collaborative creation of the research notebook and its evolution from a collection of online modules to a student-centered online learning tool focused on supporting the reflective research and writing process. A small random sampling of notebooks was used for assessment of student learning and the notebook’s effectiveness.


Hybrid approaches to library instruction that leverage direct assessment of student work as well as opportunities for students to reflect on their research process facilitate both student learning and increased understanding for library staff of how students experience the research and writing process.

Practical implications

The development of instructional tools to extend the “one-shot” model can lead to a variety of instructional innovations and open up opportunities to explore and develop new approaches. Including opportunities for students to reflect and provide feedback on their experience of the research and writing process offers important insights often missed by purely quantitative assessment methods.

Social implications

Use of the research notebook opened up more time during face to face instruction time for deeper learning, critical information literacy and discussions of social justice issues related to information production and access.


The paper presents an innovative, adaptable and scalable approach to addressing common challenges faced by information literacy instruction programs.



Glassman, J.A. and Worsham, D.M. (2017), "Digital research notebook: a simple tool for reflective learning", Reference Services Review, Vol. 45 No. 2, pp. 179-200.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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