Deb Barberi (on the left), one of the SAms who taught at UConn in the academic year 2007–08, and Stephanie Willen Brown who directed the UConn SAm Program from 2006–2008.
In 2006, the University of Connecticut Libraries started participating in Elsevier’s Student Ambassador (SAm) Program. From 2006–2008, student ambassadors taught 30 classes, reaching over 350 participants.
In UConn’s highly successful SAm program, graduate students have taught their peers how to do citation searching. This method permits researchers to find seminal articles in their fields and discover who has cited specific articles. UConn science librarians wanted students to know about citation searching and wanted to teach graduate students about using particular citation databases; to fulfill those two goals, library staff created a SAm-led program to teach citation searching using both Elsevier’s Scopus and ISI’s Web of Science.
At UConn, SAm trainers have proven invaluable. As fellow graduate students, they’ve enjoyed credibility with their audience that librarians simply don’t have. Additionally, the SAms have had new ideas for marketing and teaching, and theyve been able to teach classes later in the day than librarians could. UConn SAms have divided their teaching responsibilities, alternating between teaching in front of the class and helping students while a session was going on.
UConn SAms’ academic background has proved crucial in their ability to connect with graduate students served. Four students employed as SAms have been graduate students in social science or science. Also, participating SAms have agreed that their academic commonality with their students was useful in helping class participants improve their research skills.
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