ad-students
Digital Media Strategy students at work in the ad studio

This semester in Temerlin Advertising Institute (TAI) in the Meadows School of the Arts, Professor Eunjin (Anna) Kim’s Digital Media Strategy 1 course, first-year advertising students on the digital track are working towards getting their Information Literacy Certificate. This certificate program is specially designed to help students nurture sophisticated secondary research skills in the field of advertising.

Many colleges across the country have a version of an Information Literacy Certificate or Program, and generally these programs are not specific to one discipline. However, TAI’s Information Literacy Certificate Program, developed by Professor Kim and Communication Arts Librarian Megan Heuer, requires ten hours of training and includes actual practice of research tools as part of the program specifically for advertising.

“When I talked to industry people who were guest speakers in my class, they all said that when kids [like our students] grew up with the Internet they think they know it well,” Professor Kim said. “But they were disappointed by the quality of the research these kids came up with because it wasn’t credible or it took too long. We’re teaching our students how to identify, locate, and evaluate information as well as sources and turn information into something more valuable.”

While the new program is being included as part of Professor Kim’s course, Professor Kim and Librarian Heuer hope to offer the program to all interested SMU students next semester. Currently, this program is not in the curriculum of any other courses at SMU; therefore, Librarian Heuer will be offering the program outside of registered SMU classes.

“We did it this semester to get feedback from students on the program,” Librarian Heuer said. “The work that Professor Kim’s students are doing in class now can be done in a workshop setting outside of class. This program offers extra practice, training and understanding of research outside of the classes these students are taking. The program helps them flesh out their skillset.”

To achieve this certificate successfully, students must complete online tutorials, attend sessions and turn in work, and then pass the final assessment. Professor Kim is holding in-class sessions for her students to complete this certificate by the end of the semester. The topics of these sessions include Ethical Use of Information, Basics of Advertising Research, Advanced Internet Search Skills, Finding & Evaluating Statistics, Demographics & Psychographics, and Problem-based Case Studies.

Professor Kim and Librarian Heuer are currently working on creating the final test for completion of the program.

“The test will be setting out research tasks that you might have to research in the real world and tracking how well students do with it,” Librarian Heuer said. “We will look at the answers students got, the quality of information they found, and what their thought process was in conducting research, including strategies, tools, and how they found what they did.”

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to add the certification to their resumes, as well as gaining a digital badge on their LinkedIn profiles.

“We started from an ethical point of view because [TAI is passionate about] ‘Better Advertising. Better World.’” Professor Kim said. “So the students will know how to credit their source or provider correctly. They will get a paper certificate itself and Megan [Heuer] is going to create an online badge for LinkedIn. Employers will value this certificate because the students will have formal and strategic training in research. Students will be more prepared for their jobs, where they tend to be doing a lot of research.”

Students have responded very positively to the program and are excited about adding these new skills to their resumes.

“Once they see tasks that they need to be able to do, they appreciate having support to be able to complete those tasks in a better way,” Librarian Heuer said. “[Having this skillset] saves them time and makes them better. There’s not one right way to do research. Students come up with things I haven’t even thought of, and it’s exciting to see.”

“I believe TAI Information Literacy Certificate would not only help me get an internship but would also help me stand out as an intern,” TAI Digital Advertising student Rita de Obarrio said.

Contact Megan Heuer at mheuer@smu.edu if you have comments or questions about the program. Interested SMU students may register for the program for Spring 2017.

Thank you to Rachel Kainer and the Temerlin Advertising Institute Blog for this submission.