Sue Barton

  Adult basic education, Job skills, Libraries, Life skills

Learner Level:
  Intermediate level and level III

Time Frame:
  2.5 hours

Learner Grouping:
  Whole class

  The class' purpose is to provide pre-employment education for a GED/ABE class of level 2 and 3 learners. The class took a field trip to the public library to learn through research the skills that are needed to gather, analyze, and use information. The students increased their ability to act independently when choosing a career and thus build a bridge to the future.


  New River Community College Adult Basic Education Program

Type of Program:

Student Population Served:
  Basic skills (grade levels 5-8.9)

Using the public library for career search

ABE/GED students are introduced to the public libraries and research a question they have regarding career choice. __________________________________________________________

Learning Objective:
Learners will be able to make informed decisions when selecting a career.
Learners will be able to think reflectively about their findings.
Learners will be able to use the public library.
Learners will be able to use the Reader's Guide to Periodicals.
Learners will use multiple sources that are available at the library to collect information.

Primary Skill:
Learn through research

Secondary Skills:
Decision-making, Take responsibility for learning

Learner Needs & Goals:
Students had knowledge gaps in their understanding about careers.
Students were unfamiliar with the public library.
Students were apprehensive about using the public library.
Students were searching for a job.
Students had not decided what job they wanted to pursue.
Students were unaware of all the skills and knowledge their chosen career entailed.

Learning Activity Description:
1. Focus Activity
Ask students to brainstorm on a piece of notebook paper what type of careers they would be interested in pursuing. Have learners pick their favorite career or one that they want to know more about.

Have learners write a paragraph about why a certain career is their favorite. Ask students to pose questions about their chosen career, for example,

  • What information do I need about this career?
  • What would I like to know about this career? Examples would be: What do I need to know to be a nurse? What qualifications do I need to be a plumber?

2. Evidence for Assessment
Be sure that each learner has a written question about a chosen career.

3. Library Task
Tell students that they must gather one print article, one journal article, and one Internet piece of information about their selected career.

4. Field Trip
Arrange for the learners to tour the library with a librarian. Before the tour, ask the librarian to emphasize specific Dewey categories and to tell how they relate to students' careers. If learners do not already have library cards, arrange to obtain them after the tour. Have learners use the card catalogue and librarian to find the answers to their question.

5. Class Reflection
Gather the whole group after an hour of research. Ask learners to share verbally what they have found and what multiple sources they have used. Also, ask them to share verbally with the whole group how they felt about the library experience. Were they able to find everything they needed? Have learners make a list of the things that they found out about their career. Finally, ask learners to write a paragraph about how they will use this information in the future.

Materials and Resources:

  • Local public library Web page containing categorized bookmarks, for example, the Radford Public Library Site located at
  • Readers' Guide to Periodicals
  • Paper and pencils
  • Internet access
  • Public library/librarian



  • Learners know how the library is classified.
  • Learners know how to use the Reader's Guide to Periodicals.
  • Learners are able to perform a simple Internet search.
  • Learners have answered the question that they posed.
  • Learners know what is available at the public library.
  • Learners found information about their chosen career.
  • Learners produced a paragraph explaining why they chose that career.
  • Learners produced a paragraph explaining what they found in the library.
  • Learners shared with the class about their library experience.
  • Learners have a plan of how they will use the library in the future.

The librarian was the most valuable resource. She engaged the students in conversation. She showed students how to use the library catalogue. She showed the students how the library was classified and organized. She mentioned other library resources (newspapers, reference materials and CD ROM products) that students could use besides the three that the teacher suggested. She encouraged the students to return to the library for other purposes (to select books for their children, listen to books on tape, read for pleasure, and select magazines pertaining to hobby interests).

The students had trouble articulating why they had selected a specific career. Improvements to the lesson could be to add some self-awareness activities and have a two class period unit.


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