A small group convened to review Carolyn’s post on Research Skills and College Readiness. We discussed the assumption that all students need preparation to be “college ready” when they arrive at UT Austin. All students should learn writing skills and research skills in the UGS courses. Sometimes professors assume that the students have a more advanced set of skills than they actually have. When teaching these classes the expectation is to start from scratch when teaching information literacy skills. In addition, some students are required to take rhetoric classes to become college ready.
We then discussed assignment design and the role librarians can play in designing research assignments that are more than just linear but fuzzy. It is not just about solving a problem but formulating it. We also discussed how the research process is cyclical not necessarily linear. It is regularly emphasized to first year students that the research process is circular.
We learned that Engineering assignments are set up with formulating problems as well as finding solutions. It would be difficult to break out of the step by step process from first year students and work towards this idea of formulating problems. Topics should be selected after preliminary research gets done but often topics get picked with very little research done.
We also learned about primary sources and how important it is to spend time with archival collections and how important it is to really look at things in the humanities. If you look closely, formulating questions should come next. This varies greatly from the social sciences where you are constantly looking at and analyzing the data and the evidence.
We discussed how to help the students ask questions when they have a research problem and why students may be reluctant to ask for research help but they don’t seem to be reluctant to ask for writing or tutoring help. Why is this? If they were encouraged by their peers to ask for research help this makes a difference. Research shows that students think they are proficient in research skills but much of the time they are not. This may also be a reason that they don’t ask for assistance.
We discussed research and writing expectations in high school and how these expectations are different in college and how new skills need to be taught and old skills even unlearned.