Tag Archives: reading

RIOT Recap – 10/20/15

Krystal’s RIOT enabled us to have a rich discussion regarding the role reading plays in developing student’s information literacy skills while in the library instruction classroom.  To be sure, it would be difficult to evaluate information without reading it, but, as Krystal notes in her blog post, this is often what happens within the classroom setting when we have limited time to integrate active learning and model the research process.
Time is a constant obstacle in the library instruction classroom in even the most concept-driven and pedagogically sound classes. Creating an inauthentic classroom environment, something Roxanne’s earlier blog post investigated, feels appropriately off. However, framing the short evaluation exercises as good habits rather than retain content could help instructors reinforce that the activity is to build skills. Then, after they have developed the skills to evaluate a source, they can deem that source worthy of follow-up and close reading.
So, instead of an active learning classroom scenario like this:
Librarian: “Okay, now take the next five minutes to read your source, in a group develop criteria you would use to evaluate it, and develop a sound argument as to why or why not you would list as a source for your paper, and don’t worry if you don’t finish the article because there isn’t enough time to do that anyway, this is just for a class discussion…” (slightly dramatized)
We could frame it as:
Librarian: “Okay, now take the next five minutes to skim over your source noting elements within and about this source that would help you decide if a closer reading of this source is useful for your paper. Your criteria should be broad enough that it could be used in any class regardless of the assignment or research you’re doing.”
The latter framing would hopefully reinforce that this is a conceptually exercise rather than a content-driven one.
We also discussed a few other strategies, such as:
  • Reaching out to the faculty member to ask if s/he has talked about reading with the students in an effort to compliment or augment that dialogue.
  • Using and promoting educational technology, such as Endnote Web and Noodletools. Roxanne mentioned that she uses Endnote Web to teach students how to keep track of the research they are finding as a way to organize and conceptualize the research process. Michele mentioned that NoodleTools also enables students to annotate their references and add tags which can be used for critical reading.
  • Designing scaffolded assignments, such as the annotated bibliography assignment, which allows students to build skills and draw connections between readings and assignments over the course of the semester.
  • Framing the research question in a way that elicits a more targeted answer. For example, “Does XYZ solve this question” rather than “how does XYZ effect …”?
Many of us already have great relationships with faculty and have collaborated deeply on their courses and using the successes from these partnerships, we discussed ways to reach out to other faculty and illustrate a collaborative approach as a proof of concept. Additionally, are there ways in which we currently support faculty, such as the Information Literacy Toolkit, that can be redesigned to meet faculty where they are or to reach faculty before they have begun to plan their course.
We also discussed that the way in which students reading patterns have changed, mostly online and in segments, could be challenging the way we teaching information literacy.  Students may write a paper first only to go back and find sources that support their points rather than build it from a body of evidence or they may cherry-pick quotes from an article without having read it in entirety.
Roxanne offered up using review articles as a strategy for helping students better understand the synthesis of research papers. You can start with a review article and point out that scholar’s a + b say one thing, scholar’s c + d say this other thing, and then ask students to go back to the original article to see it in full context and how the author of the review article summarized their research. Sarah recommended asking students to read the first paragraph of an article and ask the to pull out keywords from there.
We ended our RIOT with a discussion of the potential of adding an additional approach to our current Signature Course program as a way to reach all students to instill information literacy skills. Because this program already catches all incoming students, it is a captive audience and we already have buy in from the School of Undergraduate Studies. We discussed what such an approach could look like — something online, a tutorial, an interactive video – and perhaps it would be something online that all students are required to complete, that would complement any of the rich course-integration interactions we currently have. Finally, we ended with a reiteration that curriculum mapping could help us define faculty and areas for partnership.

Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning

Booth, Char. Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning: Instructional Literacy for Library Educators. Chicago: American Library Association, 2011. Print.

Hello there–I hope everyone is having a happy October! This is the month where school often takes off at full speed. Projects and papers are beginning to be due, midterms are just around the corner, and of course, you can’t forget the fall festivities and fabulous amounts of candy just waiting to be consumed!

Despite the fact that I will be caught up in all of this (as I am a graduate student as well), I am trying to take the time to “reflect” on my teaching practices in library instruction as I begin to observe and co-teach more classes this fall. In order to do this, I have begun reading Char Booth’s excellent book Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning. This is an ALA publication that (already, even though I have not finished reading it) I think everyone who is involved with library instruction should read or at least glance at from time to time. Booth, a former UT iSchool student, gives a very practical and customizable model for framing the life-cycle of successful library classes: from inception to assessment (xviii).

However, I’d like to focus on something that Booth states in the beginning of the book. This statement really struck a chord with me, and has made me think more about my interactions with students while teaching and observing in library classes. Booth asserts that “As librarians, we are nerds for knowledge. By making information more findable, usable, and interpretable, we help others in their quest for specialization. This makes us nerd enablers–and therefore more accurately described as uber- or meta-nerds” (4). I have always identified with “nerd” culture and as someone who has wanted to work either in education or higher education for a long time, I would even describe myself as someone who has a passion for sharing knowledge, indeed: a “knowledge nerd.” Booth recognizes that many librarians feel this way–this passion for sharing knowledge resources is why libraries exist in the first place (4). But as librarians, we must be careful to realize that library users and students don’t necessarily think the same way that we do. We want to enable someone with a passion to learn about what inspires them–but sometimes people (especially new students), haven’t figured out what that passion is and so have not reached an expert status or the “self-directed learner” (4) status that the library has been built to serve. If we reflect on this fact that libraries have really been designed for “knowledge nerds” as we are, I think we can see just how important library instruction is for our users and our students. It’s not just a way we can communicate our knowledge, it is also a way that users and students can engage with our resources for the first (or maybe the zillionth) time without feeling lost or hopeless if they haven’t achieved the level of self-directed learner.

I sincerely hope that everyone who is a library instructor or has some part in library instruction will take a look at Reflective Teaching. So far it has been very helpful to me as a new instructor–and I haven’t even completed the book!

The Courage To Teach by Parker J. Palmer

Palmer, Parker J. The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc. Publishers, 1998. Print.

Hello everyone! My name is Molly and I am the Graduate Research Assistant for Library Instruction Services. As a GRA I aid the librarians in LIS with co-teaching courses designed to enhance information literacy skills or introduce research tools such as Zotero, edit instructional content, assist in library outreach events, and speak with students who have questions. Also, I will now be a contributor to our Instruction blog!

As someone who is new to teaching in the library (well, actually, in any setting), I found a number of articles and books that were on my GRA to-read list very helpful in overcoming my beginner’s anxiety. Though I have experience in presenting and public speaking, I knew that teaching was going to be different. It’s one thing to stand up in front of an audience and speak about a subject or a project that’s exciting to you, but another thing entirely to actually try to engage a group of human beings (any age) in the learning process.

One book, however, stood out as being particularly helpful to curb this fear. That would be Palmer’s The Courage to Teach. True to its title, this book discusses how to rediscover or find the passion that you have within you and how to use that passion to get students to focus their attention on your subject.

Palmer writes about how there is a high volume of fear in academia and in education at large: fear of covering controversial topics in the classroom, fear of setting standards too high or too low, fear of not having a traditionally structured classroom, and even the fears that students themselves bring to the classroom. About this, Palmer states “the roots of education are sunk deep in fearful ground. The ground I have in mind is one we rarely name: it is our dominant mode of knowing, a mode promoted with such arrogance that it is hard to see the fear behind it—until one remembers that arrogance often masks fear” (50). This arrogance comes from the desire to have control—to manipulate and change what we can in the objective world. However, it is only through giving up this control, working through this arrogance and fear, that a teacher can “enter a partnership with the otherness of the world” (Palmer 56) and therefore have a true connection with students and the subject they are teaching.

Palmer spends quite some time on the dangers of privileging objectivism over subjectivism and how it has done damage to the teaching profession. He also discusses using the classroom as a learning community and the structure of a possible reformation in the institution of education. Palmer expresses several times throughout the text that this reformation must come primarily from the teachers themselves: by choosing to move past the fears that inhibit us and students and to honor the inner world that informs our teaching style as well as the original passion we had for our subject.

For anyone interested in a great overview of the philosophy behind teaching and learning, as well as a fearless discussion of that inner world which our conventional or institutional view of objectivism has often overlooked or even disparaged, but which is essential for a teacher to examine, I wholeheartedly recommend The Courage to Teach.

EXERCISE: How to read a scientific article

Purpose: This exercise introduces students to the parts of a typical scientific research article and a method for reading such articles.

Introduction: Students who are unfamiliar with scientific literature will often attempt to read articles straight through, the way they read textbooks or popular articles. This can be frustrating and unproductive.

Materials: For a class of ~24 students, use three research articles. Photocopy these sections—introduction, materials & methods, data/results, and conclusion—masking off text so that content from other article sections isn’t visible.

Methods: Have students work in pairs. Give each pair a section of an article and an article-notes form (Purugganan and Hewitt, 2004). Let them have 5-10 minutes to skim their sections and answer as many questions as they can on the form. Now have all students who have sections of each article gather together and report on what they think the article is about. Then have each group report out to the class about this experience. Generally, students who had the conclusions sections will have the best idea of what the article is about, and students who had the materials/methods sections will know the least.

Discussion: Have students read the abstracts of their papers, to see what they’re about. Then tell students to

  1. read the abstract to determine whether the article is a keeper
  2. read the conclusions—what did the researchers find?
  3. read the introduction—why did the researchers do this study
  4. read the results—show me the data!
  5. read the methods—how can I repeat this study?

Show the Purdue video “How To Read Scientific Papers” to reinforce.

Show students how to find subject dictionaries and encyclopedias to refer to while reading scientific articles—

  1. Gale Virtual Reference Library > apoptosis
  2. Library Catalog: AKW <dictionar* biolog* AND MT ebook; apoptosis>


Purdue University Libraries, n.d. [Fosmire, Michael?]  How to read scientific papers. Flash tutorial.

Purugganan, Mary and Jan Hewitt, 2004. “How to Read a Scientific Article.”