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.