11 The “Dulcie Lives On” Podcast Series

Sparking Students’ Intellectual Curiosity Through Library Instruction

Angela Chikowero

“Library instruction helps students grow intellectually and produce impactful research when strategically conducted.”


“[S]tudents need to acquire … intellectual curiosity in order to continue to be lifelong learners and … an understanding of intellectual freedom issues will foster a desire to learn” (Reichel, 1994).


Library instruction is fundamental in helping students understand their knowledge and information gaps and in stimulating their intellectual curiosity. Once aware of their information and knowledge gaps, intellectually curious students can develop a deep propensity to question their thesis, scholarly literature, and their own biases and thought processes. This chapter uses a compassionate pedagogy-driven library instruction session that the author taught to the University of California Santa Barbara Department of Black Studies’ class, “Black Diaspora Cinema” to analyze how library instruction is critical to nurturing intellectual curiosity among undergraduate students. The author taught the session in winter quarter of 2022. The key output for the class was the students’ production of a 5-episode podcast series titled Dulcie Lives On. Central to the creation of the podcast was raising awareness of the role that the late African National Congress (ANC) anti-apartheid female activist Dulcie September played in fighting apartheid in South Africa. The project’s success was dependent on the library instruction and consultation sessions that the Black Studies Librarian, the author of this chapter, proffered. I utilized the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Framework, ACT UP, and Bloom’s Taxonomy for articulating measurable learning outcomes to spark intellectual curiosity amongst the students.

The chapter explores ways library instruction and subsequent consultation sessions enabled students to develop an aptitude for research and find answers to their varied research questions on Dulcie September, apartheid in South Africa, activism, and the erasure of women activists in the memory of the said activism. I began the library instruction by teaching students podcast-making techniques. Then, through further information literacy instruction and group consultations, students developed skills that helped them to identify their vast research needs, question their biases, and to consult scholarly work with a critical mind. They also employed various research methods like interviews and archival study to find answers to their diverse questions on the assassination of September and her subsequent erasure from history. Instruction and consultation sessions helped students understand the concept of iterative research, develop research topics suitable for the podcast, identify their information gaps, engage in the strategic exploration of resources, and evaluate them for accuracy and credibility.

The instruction and consultation sessions for the class highlighted that librarians are often tasked with teaching the research process and the skills that students require to become competent researchers across disciplinary boundaries, expertise levels, and modalities (Hostetler & Luo, 2021). With emergent technologies, these skills go beyond information literacy to encompass media literacy, which is equally significant to the development of intellectual curiosity among undergraduates, as the chapter shall demonstrate. 

Literature on Intellectual Curiosity and Library Instruction

There is vast literature on the significance of fostering students’ intellectual curiosity through library instruction. This literature highlights that library instruction not only helps promote information literacy among students, but it in turn helps nurture intellectual curiosity. Breivik and Gee as cited by Reichel defined information literacy as the ability to determine the need to identify and evaluate information and how this ability is an essential skill base for students (Reichel, 1994). Students need to acquire intellectual interest to continue to be lifelong learners, understand intellectual freedom, and foster a desire to learn (Reichel, 1994). My class instruction and consultation sessions demonstrated how the inquiry-based approach is fundamental to sparking students’ intellectual curiosity. The students’ critical engagement effectively un-erased Dulcie September from the abyss of history. The instruction and mentoring employed pragmatic instruction techniques, prompting personal experience to find analogies, and emphasizing reflective writing and direct querying of the students’ experiences (Hensley et al., 2004). The key to the inquiry-based learning approach is asking critical questions.

Seasoned scholars start their research with a question, a point that most students often fail to understand. As Scharf and Dera emphasize, research is an inquiry process (Scharf & Dera, 2021). When students undertake authentic research, questions arise from their intellectual curiosity, because questioning is central to research in many disciplines (Dillon, 1982). Library instruction is vital in promoting students’ inquiry and the propensity for resource exploration. Students become information literate through library instruction.

Some scholars highlight how information literacy is essential in helping undergraduate students become critical thinkers and lifelong learners (Wong, 2010). Research shows that new undergraduate students are dualistic or early multiplistic. Dualistic or early multiplistic are two stages of early intellectual development provided by Joanne Kurfiss, as cited by Wong ( 2010). In the dualistic or early multiplistic stage, students begin to realize that conflicting opinions, theories, and points of view are inevitable features of knowledge. However, they might not have a good comprehension of the rationale behind different perspectives. Understanding differing theories, philosophies, or schools of thought emanates from intellectual curiosity, when students start questioning information sources and realizing that they can produce new knowledge through researching and finding answers to their questions.

A compassionate approach to instruction can help students grow intellectually while supporting their mental well-being in the learning environment. Scholars have researched how instructors can create a welcoming and compassionate-filled learning environment where students can connect and communicate. Dickson and Summerville (2018) have written on how a compassionate pedagogy must be grounded in the material health of the learners. They also urge instructors to develop a compassionate pedagogy that mentally helps them and the students (Dickson & Summerville, 2018). The Black Diaspora Cinema class session that is the subject of analysis utilized compassionate pedagogy, which contributed much to the success of the students.

Library Instruction and Intellectual Curiosity

The library instruction sessions I conducted for the Black Diaspora Cinema class at UCSB in the winter quarter of 2022 aimed at sparking intellectual curiosity among undergraduate students. Many students in this class were unfamiliar with the white South African oppressive regime of apartheid, and the role that women played in fighting it. As such, I incorporated much background on apartheid in my lecture design, which followed Bloom’s Taxonomy by employing the backward design strategy for articulating measurable and observable learning outcomes. Thus, I first asked the instructor the learning outcomes for the class, which then helped me to develop the learning activities, learning tools, and to conduct assessments. I delivered some of the lessons on Zoom, so the learning objectives and objects were designed to suit the online learning environment while striving to spark intellectual curiosity in students. I utilized the questioning technique throughout the entire instruction session so that students understood how the research process is iterative and requires a curious and questioning mindset. I emphasized to the students throughout that they needed to be active knowledge producers instead of being mere passive information consumers.

The Black Diaspora Cinema students needed a clear understanding of the research process, especially since they were studying a new theme on Black women activists’ erasure from politics in a relatively unfamiliar African country like South Africa. The library instruction sessions were central to their acquisition of research skills, new knowledge on apartheid, gendered erasure of activism, and on knowledge dissemination through a communication platform like a podcast. Librarians are positioned to contribute to students’ intellectual progress; through library instruction, they can work towards designing interventions that solicit cognitive skills matching and thus enhance students’ development levels (Wong, 2010).

One reflective learning strategy that we employed in the Black Diaspora Cinema class was having me commence the session by sharing personal experiences growing up in a segregated former British colony, Zimbabwe, which was different from its neighbor Apartheid South Africa only in a matter of degree. Students had an opportunity to ask questions and share comments and opinions, leading to a reflective and interactive discussion. Scholars like Whitver and Riesen explore how learning transfer can occur when instructors scaffold multiple reflective techniques in a single session (Whitver & Riesen, 2019). Thus, the reflective discussion session proved thought-provoking as students also shared their knowledge and family experiences with racial segregation. The discussion folded with a question to students about who qualifies as an authority when researching and writing about personal experiences.

We also used another instructional strategy that entailed the students listening to two excerpts from the podcast, They Killed Dulcie, a series produced by Open Secrets, and Sound Africa. While September played a central role in fighting apartheid and the illegal arms trade, not much attention has been paid to her contribution to an “independent” South Africa. Her activism led the apartheid regime to kill her on March 29, 1988, in Paris, France. Before she was assassinated, September had been investigating the arms trade between France and the South African apartheid regime. Sadly, the vital role she played in fighting apartheid was erased from history. I asked the students crucial questions such as their familiarity with the podcast on September before the library instruction session, thoughts on the podcast content, and any experiences related to the podcast content they were willing to share. This strategy proved thought-provoking for the students. They asked critical questions on themes like apartheid in South Africa and Black women’s roles in fighting it, drawing similarities between apartheid and Jim Crow, for instance. They even started questioning the authority of the producers of the podcast, They Killed Dulcie.

Information instruction sessions should be designed to facilitate student interaction and idea exchange. Social constructivism maintains that learning occurs when students interact with each other (Pear & Crone-Todd, 2002). Librarians should work toward designing interventions to solicit cognitive skills matching and enhancing students’ intellectual development levels (Wong, 2010). Librarians are well-positioned to contribute to students’ intellectual progress through information and media literacy instruction sessions designed to enable academic growth through student collaboration. I utilized group activity as another strategy to help create an online community of learners and to encourage collaboration amongst the students during the instruction sessions. I consigned the students into 5-minute breakout rooms based on the podcast series that their instructor set. By the end of the instruction session, students were sharing ideas on topics they wanted to research, potential sources to consult, and the rationale behind their choices. Thus, the strategies utilized during the instruction session to engage students and spark their intellectual curiosity included questioning techniques, reviewing podcast excerpts, and group activities.

I designed and conducted a post-instruction assessment of the student’s comprehension of the materials. During the instruction session, I introduced the students to essential library resources on apartheid in South Africa. Some researchers have emphasized how intelligence, curiosity, and sound pedagogy that inform quality instruction also inform quality classroom assessment (Buchanan & McDonough, 2017). The students used Padlet, a real-time collaborative web board, to share their resources and search strategies. In addition, I employed techniques like questioning and a one-minute reflection paper to test the students.

During a second instruction session, the students developed topics for their respective podcast series. Each group presented its research proposal to me and four other professors who gave students feedback and asked thought-provoking questions about the content they pitched. This session was critical because it empowered the students to participate actively in the knowledge production process. The students actively discussed their research topics and ideas, and they asked and responded thoughtfully to the questions that I and other faculty members already familiar with the research process posed. By the second session, it was clear that the students had sharpened their critical thinking skills as they asked more critical questions than during the first session. For instance, one group questioned why most of the sources they consulted featured mostly male figures when it came to fighting oppressive systems not only in South Africa but also in other parts of the world. The nature of the students’ questions and ideas showed how they had grown from mere information accumulators to critical thinkers, taking the first steps towards becoming knowledge developers and producers. The podcast project pitching session is an example of undergraduate learning design that pushes students to bring their personality into their understanding of complex issues (Hauke, 2019).

I conducted a third instruction session for the students. At this point, they had all developed their podcast topics and consulted with me several times. During this third session, it was apparent the students were knowledgeable about the history of apartheid in South Africa and the role that women like Dulcie September played in fighting the oppressive system. However, they still needed guidance in a few areas to further develop their various research ideas. I gave them feedback on the research strategies they needed to improve their respective podcast series. Some of the topics covered in the session included methods to effectively conduct interviews when dealing with sensitive issues such as arms trading, and how to interview activists whose lives might already be in danger without compromising their privacy.

Compassionate Pedagogy

According to Hao, critical compassionate pedagogy is a pedagogical commitment that allows educators to criticize institutional and classroom practices that ideologically place underserved students at disadvantaged positions, allowing them to be self-reflective of their actions through compassion as a daily commitment to teaching (Hao, 2011). I utilized a learner-centered approach as part of a compassionate pedagogy when interacting with the students. Critical compassionate pedagogy was also employed throughout the sessions to create a welcoming and stress-free environment for the students. A learner-centered approach and compassionate pedagogy allow students to explore what and how they want to learn, and their distress and disadvantage are closely monitored and addressed.

Students from the Black Diaspora Cinema class were often encouraged to make decisions and take control of their podcast project through questioning authority figures when reviewing scholarly works or deciding the best resource to utilize for their research. For instance, when students asked me on the best archive to consult on a specific podcast theme, I asked them to review all available archives and critically evaluate them to see which one might be key to their research needs. I also asked what might lead them to settle on one archive over another. This approach of questioning students in a thought-provoking manner helped enhance their analytical and ultimately their intellectual skills.

Rosso stated that when students express interest in one course topic over another, instructors and librarians can direct them to readings that most support their intellectual journey (Rosso, 2021). I guided students to explore various resources critically and settle on authoritative works that best helped them answer their research questions. There are various ways compassionate pedagogy can be included in library instruction. The guiding objective to this approach to teaching was ensuring that no student was left behind and being compassionate to learners from all backgrounds. In that sense, I availed myself to the students throughout their research process beyond the class instruction.

Librarian-Faculty Collaboration

Collaboration between librarians and faculty is one of the strategies critical to enhancing positive student learning outcomes and nurturing intellectual growth. The success of the student-led podcast series was partly because the instructor of the Black Diaspora Cinema class and I took a collaborative approach to instruct the students collaboratively through three library sessions we determined were sufficient to cover the learning goals. Michelle Selinger, as cited in Dobozy and Gross, discusses how scholars widely acknowledged that educational collaboration could lead to valuable innovations (Dobozy & Gross, 2010). Before the library instruction session, the professor and I exchanged several emails, discussing the podcast project and lesson outcomes expected from the library instruction sessions. Three in-person meetings were conducted to finalize the lesson plans and the support that students needed for the entire quarter. My success with instructing the class was grounded in collaborating with the instructor for the duration of the course. The instructor viewed me as a colleague whose expertise was critical to the success of the student-led Dulcie Lives On podcast project.

Library instruction by librarians working together with instructors helps boost students’ intellect because librarians impart knowledge of resources, search skills, teaching skills, and understanding of the research process and questioning strategies (Donham & Green, 2004). According to Donham and Green, faculty and librarian collaboration has several important attributes: mutual goals, mutual respect, planning, and substantive contributions by both parties in designing instruction goals and activities and then carrying them out (Donham & Green, 2004). The success of the Dulcie Lives On podcast project was partly due to the research and learning strategies I employed in collaboration with the instructor. For instance, I worked closely with the instructor to select the podcast excerpts we shared with the students in the initial instruction session. The podcast listening activity helped students reflect on their understanding of Black women apartheid activists’ erasure in South Africa. Through the listening activity we designed, students also learned in-depth the role that Dulcie September played in fighting apartheid, specifically the arms trade. From the collaborative instruction sessions, students started raising critical questions surrounding September’s assassination and erasure from history.

Library Instruction and Podcast-Making

The instructor selected the podcast project to help students develop their research skills and produce their findings using technology for disseminating or sharing knowledge. He wanted the students to learn about apartheid and women activist erasure while acquiring technical skills for podcast making. Podcasting entails making audio or video recorded files available for download by podcast listeners (McGarr, 2009). Institutions of higher learning have been utilizing podcasts as a modality for student learning for a while. Dobozy and Gross shared how many universities have now embedded audio and video-enhanced podcasts (or vodcasts) into the course environment with positive results (Dobozy & Gross, 2010). This usage of podcasts is in response to research suggesting that technology-enhanced collaboration between staff from various departments within a university can facilitate student access to vital information (Michel, Hurst & Revelle, 2009). Podcasts are also an accessible and low-cost form of teaching and learning technology. Libraries and podcasts can be, and often by necessity, shoestring operations. Podcasting lowers the barrier to access to information as it can be produced in a low-cost way (Evans, 2018). I designed the library instruction sessions to allow students to acquire skills to explore resources, evaluate them, and produce knowledge in a low-cost podcast series, allowing students from various backgrounds barrier-free access to information. Students had the opportunity to learn podcast technology, thus create a valuable and accessible learning resource.

It is vital stressing that student learning does not occur when they access essential information and make reference to it in their papers and projects without critically evaluating it. Students need the intellectual skills to analyze the data they access with a critical lens to be effective knowledge producers. The instructor’s approach to having students develop research topics, conduct research, and produce their podcast series positioned them in an active knowledge production role. In five groups, students in the film class developed their research topics and worked collaboratively to produce their respective podcast series. I noticed that during group consultations, the process of brainstorming and coming up with research questions helped students develop critical mindsets.

I introduced the students to the podcast-making process, which I led to do in Anchor, a free podcast-making platform by Spotify, which allows users to upload, record, and edit content to create and publish podcast episodes. I introduced them to what a podcast is, the software they could use to create their series—such as Anchor—and the strategies for producing a podcast that captivates, engages, and educate an audience. The students had a hands-on, in-class activity creating their Anchor accounts, exploring the tools in the platform, and discussing their experiences as a class. They also asked questions related to copyright and the various resources, such as music, scholarly work or interviews, that they were going to use in their podcasts.

The design and learning experience in this course constitute what Dobozy and Gross refer to as technology-enhanced learning (Dobozy & Gross, 2010). Students used the knowledge acquired during the instruction sessions to critically explore and evaluate resources pertinent to their research. They asked critical questions about the sources they were finding, which subsequently helped them develop their podcast scripts. For instance, the group working on the podcast’s first episode produced the script below after our several consultations, which empowered them to strategically explore resources, and to review roles played by forgotten women activists even in organizations other than the African National Congress. The students’ curiosity to learn about women, activism and erasure led them to question the experiences of women in various countries and historical contexts.

The students ended up with well-structured script outlines, forming the basis of the content they discussed in their podcasts. For example, the group working on the first series, Group A, wrote a script outline that touched on the points below:

  • Clearly state the name of the podcast and episode.
  • Define erasure and how easy it is for women activists to be erased from history.
  • Explain women’s living conditions in post-apartheid South Africa.
    • Give context
  • African National Congress (ANC)
    • Explain what ANC is and its goals.
    • Analyze how women were recruited to join ANC.
    • Examine purpose of their original role in the organization.
    • Critical analyze how women were marginalized and their response to this marginalization.
    • Explore women’s views on their marginalization.
      • Include Dulcie’s views on sexism in the organization.
    • Explain how women activists’ work has been erased from history
      • Give examples of some of these women activists including Dulcie September.

Some of the students’ approaches to information gathering entailed interviewing fellow students on campus to gauge their knowledge of Dulcie September and women activist erasure. They developed procedures on how they would conduct the interviews, which included securing a quiet place, and exploring effective questioning techniques such as conversations rather than presentation scripts.

The group research consultations gave the students another platform to engage with a librarian. In these sessions, I utilized some questioning techniques and group discussions to prompt the students’ curiosity and critical mind frame when consulting various sources, hence developing intellectually.

Librarian and Student Consultations

Librarian and student research consultation is key to supporting student intellectual development. Commenting on the consultation model for librarianship at Cornell College, Donham and Green state, “Students began to view librarians not only as specialists, but also as collaborators, there to help support students’ intellectual endeavors (Donham & Green, 2004).” The Black Diaspora Cinema class instruction session culminated in a series of research consultations with the students.

As with the instruction sessions, consultations with the students were rooted in the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Framework for Information Literacy, particularly focusing on frames like “authority is constructed and contextual,” “research as inquiry,” and “searching is strategic exploration” (Association of College & Research Libraries, 2015). I also utilized the ACT UP method for source evaluation in the library instruction sessions. Dawn Stahura, who developed ACT UP, defines it as actively engaging in dismantling oppression of people of color and acting upwards to create a more socially just system (Stahura, 2018). Following the ACT UP evaluation strategy, students could lead discussions and openly share their thoughts about publishing privilege, systemic oppression, and the amplification of the voices of women activists. An example of how the students took a central role in leading the research project was when they interviewed the author and asked critical questions about her experiences growing up in a formerly colonized country. These consultation sessions enhanced student learning, proving that they were fundamental to students’ intellectual development beyond the classroom library instructional sessions.

Final Podcast Series

The Black Diaspora Cinema class finalized their project and produced a 5-podcast series by the end of the winter quarter and the instructor and I reviewed the final product and provided the students some feedback. The course instructor conducted the final grading of the project. The students’ podcast series consisted of the episodes listed below:

  • Episode 1: Dulcie Activism: A Transformation
  • Episode 2: Dulcie and the Cold War Arms Trade
  • Episode 3: Women Seeking Change
  • Episode 4: Media Invisibility
  • Episode 5: Un-Erasing Dulcie September

Overall, we found the podcast to be of high quality with well-researched content on September’s erasure after all her contributions to fighting apartheid. The series were shared with the entire Black Studies Department on the departmental website.

When I began working with the students, most of them did not know who Dulcie September was. They had little knowledge of apartheid in South Africa and the arms trade that sustained the regime. They were also unfamiliar with the role played by other women activists like September to fight oppressive systems like apartheid. The instructor and I worked collaboratively to give students research guidance and support as they worked in teams to produce the podcast-series Dulcie Lives On. We worked collaboratively, employing various strategies discussed in this chapter to nurture students’ intellectual curiosity on apartheid in South Africa. The students explored resources and produced an educative, freely accessible podcast series. The 5-podcast series is informative, providing listeners with rich information on Dulcie September and her significant role in fighting the apartheid regime in South Africa and exposing the ills of the arms trade. The students in the Black Diaspora Cinema class were central to the creation of knowledge utilizing an accessible information dissemination platform like a podcast.


This chapter analyzed how library instruction and collaboration between a librarian and instructor were vital to sparking students’ intellectual curiosity in researching and producing Dulcie Lives On, a podcast series on un-erasing Dulcie September. Active learning, backward design, ACT UP, the ACRL Framework, and compassionate and learner-centered pedagogy were some of the learning strategies I applied during library instruction and subsequent consultation sessions with the students in the Black Diaspora Cinema class. Students hail from different backgrounds and have varied learning styles; a mixed learning approach to library instruction and consultation sessions therefore helped them understand their vast research needs in this course. They developed an aptitude for questioning their knowledge and to critically engage scholarly work and other resources they used in their research process. Library instruction helps students grow intellectually and produce impactful research when strategically conducted. For instance, the learner-centered podcast series that the students in the Black Diaspora Cinema class produced helped amplify and un-erase the history of Dulcie September, a prominent anti-apartheid activist. Proceeding from curious minds, the students produced an accessible podcast series now available to others researching the vital role played by women activists like Dulcie September to fight apartheid in South Africa.


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About the Author

Angela Chikowero is a Research and Engagement Librarian at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) Library. Her role encompasses providing library instruction to upper-division undergraduates and graduate students. She is a SPARC Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) Open Education Leadership Fellow. She holds a Master in Library and Information Science from Dalhousie University (Canada), with a thesis on the effects of cognitive style and curiosity on multitasking. She co-authored with Elaine Toms “The effect of cognitive style and curiosity on information task multitasking,” a 2010 ACM publication. Angela’s research interests include information literacy, accessibility, open pedagogy, open education, and open educational resources.

Angela can be reached at achikowero@ucsb.edu


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