Exploring Librarians’ Pedagogical Methods in Teaching Library Technology to At-Risk Students

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At-risk students are at risk of falling behind in contributing to tomorrow’s 21st-century technological workforce unless educators address deficits early on. Scholars have indicated school librarians can raise at-risk students’ self-efficacy levels and address inequity through access to technology and instruction. Nonetheless, there are pedagogical challenges associated with at-risk students, including lack of access, one-on-one interaction with a trained school librarian, time with peers, and confidence. The purpose of this qualitative instrumental case study was to explore how school librarians in select schools in Florida and Georgia employ various pedagogical methods to teach at-risk students to use school library technology independently to raise their self-efficacy levels. I remotely interviewed 12 school librarians serving a K–8 student population. I centered the questions on participants’ knowledge and use of the constructs in Collins et al.’s (1989) cognitive apprenticeship theory—modeling, coaching, social interaction, and fading—which focus on exposing teachers’ instructional progressions. The study revealed 18 themes indicating school librarians employed methods for instruction and students’ social and emotional growth but at varying cognizance levels. Study participants focused on direct instruction for modeling and coaching, spoke more abstractly about social interaction and fading, and primarily related teaching strategies to social and emotional growth. Professional development training on teaching methods could better prepare school librarians to work with at-risk students. Future studies can focus on school librarians outside Florida and Georgia and those employed in public schools to see how such experiences differ.

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