DART Recap: Teaching keywords

We discussed how we teach keywords in this DART with the frame, Searching as Strategic Exploration hovering in the background.  A lot of us use some sort of mind mapping or concept mapping to work through keyword instruction, and many of us guide students by contextualizing keyword brainstorming in discussion of issues like audience and popular vs scholarly information. For instance, Porcia starts such conversations off with a source type activity in order to teach students about the ecosystem of information within their topic or discipline.

A couple of us – especially those who teach freshmen – observe that students are reluctant, or don’t see the value in, brainstorming keywords or reformulating after failed searches. Students often don’t go beyond typing their topic into a search bar, “such as pros and cons of neoliberalism.” Interrupting that is difficult, but some attempt to interrupt this with following the conversation around the topic so students see how topics are debated and described in real life.  Porcia mentioned PICO, a mnemonic for the elements of a clinical question: Patient/Problem, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome. Most of us non-science folks recognized that this is similar to how we teach students to identify stakeholders and controversies when researching topics. Another tactic Porcia uses is to give students an abstract alone and then ask them to pull keywords out and write a title for the paper. I’m excited to see where I can use this in a session or course!

Developing one’s topic and developing a search strategy go hand in hand, so narrowing a  topic before searching often results in a topic with little written about it. Porcia teaches her students to investigate topics using something they already understand: the scientific method – this way they are compelled to test their topics through investigation, as well as to acquire new info and build upon existing knowledge, resulting in healthier topics. Sarah Brandt often sees students who start with an answer and then -plug in evidence later. This started us discussing how we wonder if professors are explaining to students that research is how we learn about disciplines, that there is a conversation happening that they need to tap into. Gina’s students recognize that they are not passive consumers of information – this is empowering for them in the research process. As Joe commented, there is a transition that occurs when you recognizes that the audience for your work is not just your professor, but also other scholars.

I don’t know that we have a silver bullet for teaching this tricky topic, but we shared our experiences and approaches. I’m looking forward to ongoing conversations about our teaching keywords as well as hoping that folks contribute tried and tested approaches in the Toolkit!

DART Recap – Authority is Constructed and Contextual

The format for the latest DART session was an open forum to discuss one of the frames in the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy, Authority is Constructed and Contextual. While there were not specific articles that circulated prior to the meeting, participants were encouraged to explore threads within two related ALA listservs, the ILI-L and the ACRL Frame.

The discussion generated and explored multiple complex, open-ended questions: How do we instruct students in distinguishing between news media and entertainment media? What are strategies for helping students to navigate the tension between innate bias and journalistic ethics and ideals, particularly in the current landscape of distrust for the media? How do we enable students to evaluate peer-review and persuasive research agendas within varying disciplinary frameworks and norms? What is the difference or interplay between expertise and authority? And overall, how do we foster critical thinking skills that transfer beyond the classroom?

Sorry to disappoint, but I will not be providing any tidy answers to these questions within this blog post. I can, however, share some potential ideas for activities and strategies that folks discussed having used or seen in relation to these issues.

  • Media Diet: Have students map out their media diets. What media/information sources do they readily consume? The diet metaphor can be stretched as far as you like (daily intake; splurge sources; holes in your diet; allergies/intolerance). Use the maps to guide or generate class discussion about bias and media literacy.
  • Choose Your Own Adventure: Present students with a real-world problem-solving scenario in which they are evaluating information. Example: You wake up one morning with a horrible rash on your arm. You do not know what it is. What do you do? Discuss student responses and continue to add questions/choices. (The doctor you see wants to amputate your arm, what do you do now?) This activity can provide a different access or entry point for talking about authority and information literacy.
  • Opposing Viewpoints: Have students look for sources that take different stances on an issue. Unpack this experience as a class, and guide a discussion of the who, what, when, why of these viewpoints and the process of uncovering them.
  • Evidence First: When looking at research, encourage and instruct students to focus on the evidence rather than honing in on the conclusion. Is there a clear trajectory from the evidence provided to the conclusion presented?

There are no easy solutions or quick-fixes in this area, and that can be uncomfortable at times, particularly in the role of educator. But it is possible that in some way, the questions here are just as meaningful as the answers, if not more so. It is through the posing of such questions, engaging in the dialogue, and learning how to operate in the uncertainty, that progress is made, both for us as professionals, and for our students.

We do not always have to have clean-cut, black and white answers for our students, and doing so would ultimately do them a disservice anyway, as it misrepresents the gray areas inherent in critical thinking. When a student asks a complicated question about bias or authority, don’t be afraid to shrug, and say “yeah, it’s really tricky, isn’t it?” Or flip the question back to the students, and ask them what they think and why. Be transparent about the challenges and the give and take, and talk about it explicitly. Indeed, scholarship is a conversation after all.

More to check out:

Read: Interesting blog post examining the frame Authority is Constructed and Contextual.

Listen: Circulating Ideas podcast with UT Doctoral Fellow Jeremy Shermack talking about bias, journalism, and the media.

DART Recap – scoUT Discovery Tool

Yesterday we launched the new platform for our professional discussion group, Discussions About Resources and Teaching (DART), formerly known as RIOT.  Motivated by feedback and transitions within the department, this change better reflects our current structure and goals as a community of practice.  Thank you to everyone who participated in kicking off DART!

Our topic for discussion was teaching with web-scale discovery tools like scoUT. To gather different perspectives, participants were invited to read one of three articles beforehand:

“Teaching Outside the Box: ARL Librarians’ Integration of the ‘One Box’ into Student Instruction” College & Research Libraries

“Beyond Simple, Easy, and Fast: Reflections on Teaching Summon” College & Research Libraries News

“Teaching ‘Format as Process’ in an Era of Web-Scale Discovery” Reference Services Review

We began with a round robin to share how, or in what capacity, people are using or not using our discovery tool scoUT. Perhaps not surprisingly, there was a broad and varied spectrum of responses. Some people actively use it as a teaching tool in classes, while others mention it briefly, do not teach with it at all, or find themselves engaging with it more on the reference desk than during instruction sessions. People mentioned using it for developing topics; searching by citation; refining vague reference requests; finding book reviews; and locating material on obscure subjects or with very specific search phrases only found in full-text.  Also, it seems that few people actually call the tool scoUT when talking about it with students, referring to it instead with names like the “all tab” search; “main library” search; or the “big box” search.

Interestingly, some of the features discussed that make scoUT useful are also what can make it challenging. For example, it is helpful in retrieving sources that cover obscure, specific or seemingly unrelated topics because it searches and crawls across so many things. Yet that also means that it often returns a deluge of results, which people expressed can be difficult or overwhelming to deal with.

After the round robin, much of our discussion stemmed from the third article, which explored the concept of teaching format as process and how web-scale discovery tools factor into this approach.  When searching online, sources become decontextualized; content is separated from its package and so visual indicators cannot necessarily be relied upon. Guiding students to consider the creation process inherent in different source types can help foster the development of higher-level critical thinking and evaluation skills.  A tool like scoUT, that requires sifting through a large number of different, and at times random, source types, presents an authentic opportunity to discuss and hone these skills. However, this depth and engagement takes time, and can be difficult to address in a one-shot instruction session.

There was also a general consensus that whether or not we are teaching scoUT directly, students are going to use it. Not only is it the first, obvious search box on the website, but it also has that familiar Google-like quality that will draw students toward it. So if they are going to use it anyway, it only makes sense for us to think about how we can teach them to do so in a discerning and productive manner that will serve them even outside of school.

It was great to hear at the end of the discussion that several people felt interested and inspired to find new ways to incorporate scoUT into their teaching practice. Thanks again for an insightful and engaging first DART!

Do you have an article or topic you would like to bring to DART? Feel free to contact Elise Nacca with any ideas and feedback!

References:

Kulp, C., McCain, C., & Scrivener, L. (2014). Teaching outside the box: ARL librarians’ integration of the “one-box” into student instruction. College & Research Libraries, 75(3), 298-308. doi:10.5860/crl12-430

Cardwell, C., Lux, V., & Snyder, R. J. (2012). Beyond simple, easy, and fast: Reflections on teaching summon. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries.

Seeber, K. P. (2015). Teaching “format as a process” in an era of web-scale discovery. Reference Services Review, 43(1), 19-30. doi:10.1108/RSR-07-2014-0023

 

TLS Tips: Resource Spotlight – Women’s Magazine Archive

Hayley Morgenstern, Ask a Librarian Intern, with our next Resource Spotlight…

Women’s Magazine Archive

Proquest

 

womens_magazine_archive

 

Features Full-Text Publications of magazines useful for students in

WGS, Sociology and Psychology, History, Communications, and Advertising/Marketing interested in social and cultural constructions of gender.

Coverage Period (varies per publication): (1880s-2005)

Publications: Better Home and Gardens (1925-1961), Chatelaine (1940-2005), Good Housekeeping (1886-1972) Ladies’ Home Journal (1887- 1954), Parents (1949-1972), Redbook (1903-2002

-Includes Advertisements, and non-article content. Detailed Indexing makes this content easily accessible
Topics Include:
• Consumer Culture
• Economies/Marketing
• Family Life
• Fashion
• Gender Studies
• Health and Fitness
• Home and Interior Design
• Popular Culture
• Social History

Access Women’s Magazine Archive Here:

http://ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/wma?accountid=7118

* Image Found in One-Step Search of ‘Lysol and Feminine Hygiene’

Hayley Morgenstern
hayley.morgenstern@austin.utexas.edu
Ask a Librarian Intern
University of Texas at Austin
MS, Information Studies, 2017
MA, Women and Gender Studies, 2017

social explorer logo

TLS Tips: Resource Spotlight – Social Explorer

 Social Explorer is a useful tool for helping answer questions about U.S. demographics. It enables users to focus on a particular geographic area, such as a state, city, town or neighborhood. Users can also build tables to compare historical Census data.

The visualization tools help researchers create, customize and display their demographic projects and reports. Social Explorer would be an excellent resource for researchers in history, geography, public health, and the social sciences.

Building reports with Social Explorer Tables is a bit easier. The maps and other visualization tools are more complicated, so encourage researchers to use the Help pages and tutorials.

Users can browse 220 years of census data with tens of thousands of maps, hundreds of reports, over 400,000 variables and 40 billion data elements.

You can access current and historical demographic data, including US data:

  • S. Census data from 1790 to 2010
  • American Community Survey data from 2005 to 2014 (this is data is based on sampling, but contains more demographic and social data than Census)
  • FBI Uniform Crime Report data (2010 and 2012)
  • American election results (1912 to 2014)
  • Religious Congregations and Membership Study (1980 to 2010)
  • Vulcan Project carbon emissions data (2002)
  • County Health Rankings and Roadmaps Program data (2010 to 2016)

and International data: 

  • United Kingdom Census (2011)
  • Canadian Census (2011)
  • Eurostat (1990, 2000, 2010 to 2013)
  • World Development Indicators (2013)
  • Irish religion and population data (1911 to 2001)

You can also visualize data:

  • Create custom and user-friendly maps
  • Explore interactive maps with over 200 years of data
  • Compare maps using the Side-By-Side Maps Tool to display 2 maps at once
  • Create data reports with the Reporting Tools in Excel, CSV, and other file formats
  • Use the Swipe Map Tool to visualize differences between variable and time periods
  • Use the Storyboard Tool to create multi-map presentations
  • Save, share and manage your projects using your My Explorer account

Social Explorer can be accessed by searching in the Database tab in scoUT. Users will also need to create a personal account in order to use the PRO edition of Social Explorer remotely, and to save, share and collaborate on projects.

http://guides.lib.utexas.edu/db/582

Laura Gienger
(pronouns she/her/hers)
Ask a Librarian Intern, Perry-Castañeda Library
MSIS Candidate, School of Information Spring 2017
The University of Texas at Austin

 

RIOT Recap – Teaching in the Learning Labs

After a brief hiatus, RIOT returned this week with the opportunity to reflect on teaching in the Learning Labs and using the new technology, led by Sarah Brandt. The topic was introduced with some guiding questions and an article that covered the TPACK framework, which posits technology as an integrated instructional component, alongside content knowledge and pedagogy.

It was great to hear people share the ways in which the Learning Labs, both the physical space and the technology, have sparked new approaches in instruction and classroom design. Having no obvious front of the room has created a decentralized, flexible arrangement, and the table groupings have allowed for better flow in addressing students and circulating around the room. People also expressed that the screens have provided a positive new structure for group work and collaboration, while also making student work visible, which increases accountability and facilitates discussion. In terms of specific learning outcomes, people felt that the whiteboards had been very useful for keyword instruction and that the screens supported evaluation activities. It was also appreciated that the Learning Labs are ultimately student spaces, which helps create ownership and engagement.

With regard to the TPACK framework and the role of technology, people connected with the idea that technology can refer to any tool, digital or analog, and that its use should be directly tied to what it is you are trying to accomplish. We discussed implementing technology in support of our teaching goals, as opposed to throwing it in because it’s the hot new thing. People also shared the importance of being able to think on your feet and adapt instruction for whatever tools are available or in the event of technical difficulties.

There were also some challenges discussed, namely transitioning between activities, time constraints, and dealing with faculty interruptions. Potential strategies included:

  • Have groups assign roles (scribe, reporter, laptop driver) before starting an activity so they know what they’ll be asked to do.
  • Tell students the agenda for the whole class (first we’ll be in small groups, then we’re going to share out, etc.), then have a student repeat it back to you.
  • Communicate ground rules and expectations for both students and faculty prior to the session.
  • Designate a time slot for faculty to make announcements.
  • Ask faculty to prep the students beforehand with the purpose and goals of the library session.
  • Establish with faculty what can and cannot be covered or included in a session. Suggest multiple sessions or encourage extra activities (tours, browsing stacks) to be scheduled separately.

There was also the opportunity to share any tips or techniques for teaching in the Learning Labs or in general. Some excellent ideas were brought up:

  • Play music as students are coming in, creates a welcoming atmosphere and can be a good conversation-starter.
  • Give a Google form pre-test, and have the responses live populate on the screens.
  • Put questions on the whiteboards for students to answer as they come in.
  • Have students use post-its on the whiteboards for organizing keywords or other information.

If you’re interested in additional ideas for teaching with technology, check out this article from the ALA Instructional Technologies Committee.

Need some training or a refresher on using the technology in the Learning Labs? Contact Sarah Dupont, and she’d be happy to meet with you!

 

 

 

 

RIOT: December 12, 2016 – Teaching in the Learning Labs

The learning labs have been in use for three full semesters.  Since many of us have had a chance to teach in these spaces and with our new technology, we thought this would be a good time to discuss teaching in these spaces.

As a starting place for this discussion, our TLS GRA, Molly Roy found this article: http://commons.emich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1265&context=loexquarterly, which discusses the TPACK Framework and information literacy instruction.  We were interested in this article because it advocates for technology as a tool to support content learning and sound pedagogy.

As you prepare for this RIOT, here are a few questions to think about:

  1. Has the technology in the learning labs changed how you teach?  Has this been positive or negative for your teaching overall?
  2. What was your reaction to the TPACK framework discussed in the article and the suggested activity for planning classes with post-it notes?  Is this how you think about your classes?  Would it help to do so in the future?
  3. Are there particular learning outcomes that you feel you’ve been able to teach more effectively because of the technology in a learning lab?
  4. Sharing of tips and tricks you’ve learned after 18 months in the learning labs.

We can’t wait to chat about teaching in the labs and planning to effectively incorporate technology into library instruction!  See you 12/12 at 11 A.M. in Learning Lab 3.

RIOT Recap – Instruction for Graduate Students

Janelle and Roxanne led a discussion of instruction for graduate students, talking about different articles they had read about the topic and comments they had solicited via this blog before the discussion.  One of the most common questions submitted by fellow RIOTers was about whether or not graduate students come into the class with different levels of preparedness and, if so, how do you handle it?

The answer was a resounding “yes” but one of the unique characteristics of this population is that they understand how valuable to their work as graduate students what librarians are going to teach them.  One way to handle that discrepancy in preparedness is to capitalize on their natural interest and teach them a variety of skills and tools.  Even though some will know some of it, they definitely won’t know all of it and will find value in many areas of the session.   Librarians who regularly teach graduate students agreed that there isn’t a need to struggle to engage this level of students as there is with undergraduates.

The group discussed the different needs graduate students have and how these needs also change depending on where they are in their program.  For example, someone working on their first systematic review will need something different than students writing their dissertation lit reviews or dissertation proposals.  All of them, however, need help understanding what is expected of them when doing this type of research and tools and techniques for finding, evaluating and managing relevant resources.

One tool that is effective with a graduate student population, because of their understanding of how the library will be valuable to their work, is research orientations at the beginning of the semester.  Issues of timing and tying to a particular assignment aren’t necessarily as important with this population.  Roxanne also discussed a workshops program for grad students at another university that was effective.

RIOT–May 17, 2016

Instruction for graduate students

Janelle and I will discuss our experiences with instruction for graduate students. This sort of sharing is important, since there isn’t a lot of how-to literature out there for guidance (though we can highlight a couple of articles). The discussion will address the differences between instruction for undergraduates versus graduate students, especially focusing on systematic reviews, scholarly communication, and data management.

 

We hope this RIOT will be like a Reddit AMA on instruction for graduate students. Please submit your questions by leaving a comment.

CC Kati Fleming, July 4, 2013. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Horned_Lark,_Eremophila_alpestris,_nestlings_begging,_baby_birds,_gape_colors,_leaping_in_nest_Alberta_Canada_(1).jpg
CC Kati Fleming, July 4, 2013.
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Horned_Lark,_Eremophila_alpestris,_nestlings_begging,_baby_birds,_gape_colors,_leaping_in_nest_Alberta_Canada_(1).jpg

Active Learning in the Large Classroom…really?

I think the gold-standard these days for large lecture hall active learning are clickers. I’ve never taught a clicker class. I think clickers are what live studio audiences use to vote for America’s Funniest Home Videos. It’s also the word that old people use for remote controls. My family called the remote control, ‘the box’.
In a TLS Tip from last year, I investigated some mind mapping tools and began using them in the classroom for search strategy brainstorming in group and class discussions. Because of its ease of use and the fact that it does not require an account, I chose Padlet for my in-session activities. This tool is one recommended in this article by a nursing librarian struggling with meaningful active learning in large classrooms. In addition to clicker-based questions, she used Padlet to display to the whole class groups’ answers to librarian-created questions based upon a module the students completed before class. She was then able to use the students’ answers to identify gaps in knowledge and skill and clarify those points face-to-face.
I appreciated the author’s candid assessment of how this engagement went – not perfectly! Students needed more instruction than expected on how to use the tool, it was difficult to manage for a large class with so many groups, and in her lecture hall, only one screen could be shown at a time, thereby requiring her to switch from the Padlet to the Powerpoint awkwardly (would go smoother in our 80 person Lab 1A/B). The goals she had for the class required that she employ a flipped-classroom approach with supporting materials delivered via a module ahead of time. This required a bit of faculty buy-in.
In much of the literature, it seems, the flipped classroom approach to large lecture hall classes is often suggested as it allows faculty and librarian instructors to incorporate active learning into class time. Students watch or complete modules ahead of time and then come to class prepared to participate in discussion (usually classroom response systems (CRS)). In the absence of clickers, one could use polling software. Google Forms, for example, allows students to respond to questions and see the class’s responses in real time.
One shortcoming for clicker and polling questions is that typically, one must use multiple choice questions (mcq). Mcqs often result in unengaged students guessing randomly, resulting in the instructor taking valuable class time to clarify points. Mcqs, furthermore, can cue students to the correct answer. Information literacy is problem solving, it’s using logic – skills difficult to reinforce in mcqs. I do think that clickers and polling can be used to make students feel more comfortable in the classroom. Anonymous responses to polls often relax students when they see others responding similarly. One study I found in this book reported that in a comparison of classes that used clickers vs. those that did not, students using clickers outperformed those who did not in post-assessment (Holdereid, 117)
The authors of this article used CRS to gauge students understanding of concepts such as primary sources or characteristics of popular vs. scholarly sources. I can see these types of questions being good jumping off points for lecture or presentation and have used polling technologies in the classroom for this purpose – assessing what students already know so that I can tailor the discussion.
I guess what I learned from this investigation is that, in some small ways, you might be able to treat the large classroom like the small: pursue flipped classroom approaches, assess existing student knowledge with CRS or polling software, and, if the conditions are right, try collaborative learning on Padlet or a Google Doc.
What approaches do you take in large classrooms? Do you use clickers? Do you feel like the questions are getting at what you want to know? Are you able to engage students or do you feel like it’s more show and tell? Do you feel like you get more or less buy in from faculty in large classroom scenarios?

Deleo, Patricia A., Susan Eichenholtz, and Adrienne Andi Sosin. “Bridging the Information Literacy Gap with Clickers.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 35.5 (2009): 438-44.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2009.06.004

Holdereid, Anthony C. “Instructional Design for the Active: Employing Interactive Technologies and Active Learning Exercises to Enhance Information Literacy.” Information and Data Literacy: The Role of the Library. Apple Academic, 2016. 111-25.

Rodriguez, Julia E. “A massively flipped class.” Reference Services Review 44.1 (2016): 4-20. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/RSR-07-2015-0033