APA Citation Workshop Series

One of the challenges I’ve embraced in my position is instruction of APA formatting and citation.  My colleagues do not enjoy teaching citation style, likely because of the shortcomings of the content: it is neither exciting for students nor challenging for those of us who have mastered it long ago.  Last school year my instruction was limited to a nursing class every once in a while.  This year the nursing department requested that I do APA Citation workshops to encourage student ownership of their success and so began my efforts to create an engaging and informative APA Citation workshop series.

My first worry was student attendance.  A workshop series is only successful if students show up!  Previous library workshops were very poorly attended.  Therefore, for this set of workshops we decided to host them on Blackboard Collaborate.  Each synchronous online meeting is about an hour long from 8-9 PM on dates that spanned my entire work week to provide a variety of possible opportunities.

I created this flyer to advertise the workshop series.  They were sent around campus to department secretaries, posted in hallways, and included in the university-wide daily email.

We’ve had two sessions so far and they have been a relative success!  Student attendance has been around 10 people a session.  I utilize a PowerPoint for presentation purposes, but I want these workshops to be interactive! There are a few components of my instruction that I feel have been critical to our success:

  1.  Poll Everywhere polls.  Everyone loves participating in a poll and they are even more fun when they give students the opportunity to write short answer responses.citation-importance
  2. Color coded reference instruction.  Students don’t seem to see the similarities in each citation even if I specifically state that the type of bibliographic information included in each citation does not change between texts.  Colors help students identify the similarities between references.  I’ve utilized these colors throughout the entire Power Point so that the information in an in-text citation can be connected to the full reference more easily.citing-an-article-screenshot
  3. Practice “reading” citations.  This is a fun opportunity for students to engage with the presentation and helps them to practice identifying the components of the citation.  I generally provide the first example so they know what I’m looking for:  “C. Lockwood wrote “What is the best nursing handover style to ensure continuity of information for hospital patients?,” which was published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies in 2016.  It is in volume 58 on pages 97 through 99.”  Of course, these citations can be read in different ways, but the idea is that they begin to recognize the different pieces of bibliographic information.

Teaching APA citation has been a challenge, but it has provided me with additional experience utilizing Blackboard Collaborate (Ultra – I’m testing the next generation.  It’s great!), leading my own instruction sessions, and engaging students online.  It has seriously increased the number of calls I receive on a daily basis.  I am now widely recognized as the “APA Expert” on campus, and instructors across campus send their students my way for assistance.  In this case, a challenging experience has opened up an opportunity to do something I love!  I have had a few occasions to discuss the benefits of Zotero, a citation management tool that I ADORE, and so I have a few Zotero workshops in my near future.  Stay tuned!

Author: Jess Denke

Assessment and Outreach Librarian at Muhlenberg College

3 thoughts on “APA Citation Workshop Series”

  1. Hi Jess! My colleagues in the St. Mary’s College of Maryland Library and I are teaming up with the Writing Center to design a series of workshops/presentations/activities that instructors can use in their classes to teach citation. Would you be willing to share your slides, outlines and any other instructional materials with us?


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