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Experiencing Research Firsthand: The “unClassroom” Experiential Learning Approach to Teaching Research Methods in an LIS Master’s Program

Lauren H. Mandel


Research methods education in LIS master’s degree programs is facing several difficult questions: should a methods course be required, what content should be taught in that course, and what is the most effective mechanism for teaching that content. There is little consensus about what should be taught or how, but the American Library Association, LIS educators, and many practitioners seem to agree that research methods are vital skills for 21st century LIS practitioners. This paper reports on an experiential learning opportunity called the “unClassroom,” which afforded LIS master’s students the chance to complete a research project in one semester for an outside client (a statewide library consortium). The effectiveness of the unClassroom to teach research methods surpassed expectations and provides a model that may be of interest to other research methods educators in LIS master’s programs.


Research methods education, LIS curriculum, LIS education, experiential learning, pedagogy, curriculum innovation

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