Reinventing the Library’s Message Through the Alignment of Research and Instruction
Huber, R. (2013). Reinventing the library’s message through the alignment of research and instruction. Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 18(3), 233-250. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08963568.2013.795787#.VIjFUTHF_8k
Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management Walker Management Library serves primarily the graduate business school community. This article is about how they set new goals to increase the library’s impact on the school and specifically on the students by changing their information literacy approach to be consistent in teaching in the classroom, via email, and in person consultations. Using more consistent language and using the same methods in and out of the classroom, they found that students gained a better understanding of the concepts and skills they needed for research.
To better align their message to promote the library’s mission. They came up with what they call three goals, but I think of these are more learning objectives. I’ve summarized them below and their actual goals are in quotes:
- Information has a value
“Information is Big Business: over $495B was spent in 2011 according to the Business Information Industry Association on the purchase of reports, studies, articles, and so on”
- Research is a process
“Using critical thinking skills, there is a patterned way to begin your research even when you don’t know where or how to start”
- Copyright is a law
“Information that is not “common knowledge” belongs to the creator. This is called Intellectual Property and is governed by copyright, Fair Use, and plagiarism laws”
The librarians teaching in the classroom changed teaching styles/methods moved from lecture and PowerPoint to a more interactive approach. The majority of us in RIOT have been fortunate enough to attend Immersion and are already doing this. In the article they site a 2004 study from the Journal of Psychology that shows students retain more information when it is presented in a less formal way and using informal language. This got me thinking about my in-person consultations and how we sit in a small group and discuss their research strategy and go from there. In the classroom I start with a group exercise and then spend the last half of class working with the small groups and suggesting resources but we don’t have as much time to discuss process.
The process piece of this really resonates with me. It goes to teaching concepts over tools. Getting students to think about what info they need and where to find it. Walker Library found that their students often don’t ask the right questions or ask questions that can’t be answered. Their librarians help the students reframe their “business problem” to match with resources available. For example, if they want city information but the census collects the data at the national level, helping them understand that this national information is useful to their research. We are teaching them how to consider the data available and use it to their advantage. The process that Walker uses is the same one I was taught in Business Research class, first question to ask is “Who Cares?” – Who would care enough to collect this data? That often points the user in the direction of an organization, agency, or association. This could be taken broader to ask would this be covered in national news, local news, or academic papers.
Teaching the process really means we have to realize that students don’t think like us (yet). The article points out that students are happy with Google and it does a great job for them. Students see us making searching, something they do successfully every day, more complicated. “Librarians who consider themselves to be experienced searchers understand that, over time, finding information on a previously unknown topic gets easier. Their brain builds the equivalent of a circuit board full of patterns to help them know where and how to look for information.” (240). We have do a better job explaining how we approach the problem, why we use the tools we do, sharing our information strategy so students can learn the process.
Questions for us to consider:
- How are you currently teaching concepts/process over tools?
- Do you explain why you use one tool over another, is that part of the process?
- How can we bring the information consult success to the classroom?
- Could we develop a set of similar goals that would be broad enough for all of us?
- Could we streamline language for consistency?