Friday, May 29, 2015

Final Project - IDE

Argh!  I was almost done with this post and then #$*&#^ here I am again.

To recap, I am going into critical thinking classes to address new, or nearly new, students of all ages and backgrounds about information source type and the issue of authority.  Some of the faculty who teach this course are on board with me coming to class, but not all.   I have been doing a periodical activity in this class the past few quarters, but don't feel like it's enough or really getting the point across.

I want students to come away from the class understanding that the correct source depends on their information need.  I am trying to tie the frame "Authority is Contextual" into this session.  Too often students see authority as some obscure academic journal only.

1. It has been apparent to me that faculty must be involved with this process.  They are the only way to get information to students before and after a one-shot session.  With their help, I can have students watch a short video on source types before the class session. Also, I can work with instructors to get topics before the class.
2. Since the students will have watched the video, when I come in they will already have some knowledge about what we will do.  I will then pass around cards with the topics to groups of students.
3. In the past I have brought periodicals in to the classes, but it would be better for students in those groups to go choose a periodical from the library's collection that they feel would best answer the topic on their card.
4. Once the students have chosen, each group will be given a chance to explain why they chose that topic.  This is a time for discussion about why each might be more or less useful.
5. At this point I will do my usual demo, concentrating on the limiting options.
6. Assessment will be a short written statement on whether they would choose a different periodical given their new knowledge. 

I had considered bringing more tech into the class, but decided not to.  I don't believe it is as necessary in this class, though I plan to experiment with tablets as well, as they might be another tool.

I feel much more confident in structuring a class now.  The readings were all good, and even though I have not read all the supplementary materials, I plan to.  Learning styles and the critical pedagogy readings were the most interesting to me.  I had earlier thought I would focus on Behaviorism, but as the class progressed in my mind, it seemed that Constructivism would make more sense.  You can train a student to push the right buttons, but it becomes more meaningful if they understand the underlying reason WHY.

Doug Worsham mentioned the digital research notebooks that his students create and sparked an idea for me.  I am going to be examining the idea of generating a research portfolio to accompany the portfolios our students create.  Not for the critical thinking class, but perhaps as an adjunct to it.

Finally, I found the critical pedagogy readings to be particularly interesting.  The students I work with often seem willing to relinquish their own expertise to some academic "ideal". This comes from a place of insecurity and inexperience and inequality.  Helping them discover that any voice might be the authoritative voice is exactly what I want to do with this one-shot class.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Week 4 - Technology

What technologies (and these can be old, new, or emerging) might be most appropriate for your final project?

My first thought is that technologies are not necessarily appropriate in this context.  I want students to examine physical materials first.  Given my lack of a computer classroom for instruction, I fall back on projection...but I think I can incorporate technology in a couple of ways.  
  • First, I already have students working in groups when examining periodicals.  If I gave each group a tablet that was linked to the online library, they could then find their periodical full text and the connection between physical periodical and electronic resource would be an added value.  
  • Second, I have access to the course software (E-companion) used by faculty and can, with the agreement of the faculty, include instructional videos as well.  This would be something I could do beforehand, but getting students to watch them would be harder.  I think it might be better to attach such a video to an assignment that corresponds to picking the correct material for the class.  Then the students could have something to help them recall the information we covered in class.

Does your final project align with any of the trends represented in the Horizon Report you reviewed? 

Yes, I would align the project with the following trends
  • Integration of Online, Hybrid, and Collaborative Learning - using tablets in class and including follow-up material in their course software
  • Flipped Classroom - this would be true if I could have students watch instructional material before coming to class.  This would definitely make the activity I bring more relevant.

How does your choice of technology enhance or improve instruction, or motivate learners?

  • Technology would enhance the experience for sure. Especially if they could search while I am in their classroom, so that I would be available to them if there were questions.  This harkens back to the FIDeLity feedback of week 2.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

Week 3 - learning styles

One: Theory

For my project I think using constructivism and behaviorism would make the most sense to me. Though when I think of constructivism I tend to first think of: Constructivism!  My art history background is showing.

First: behaviorism.
I want students to get into the HABIT of logging into the library and working from there.  That's a habit built up over time.  It's like playing the piano.  You condition yourself to do it.  Eventually it becomes an automatic behavior.  Oh looky, there it is: behavior.

The reason that behavior becomes important in learning source types is that Google, as lovely as it is, does not include that neat little "Source Type" check box that library databases do.

Next: constructivism
This would be a good time to ask a question and see if students will construct the necessary knowledge.  An activity may be actually to bring several source types and have students figure out when they would use each.  Or devise a question and ask students to develop of list of characteristics of the ideal publication that would answer the question.

I appreciated that Teacher Tony did NOT use constructivism for long division, but rather cognitivism.  There is room for constructing a concept, but there is a certain elementary school math curriculum that uses constructivism in developing student algorithms for long division.  We need to respect knowledge in students, but we also need to respect ignorance and not expect students to develop concepts out of whole cloth.

Two: Motivation

This is tricky because I believe a lot of resistance to using the library comes from improper motivation and a disregard for the information found here.  If the questions posed are intriguing and relevant enough I would think their inquiry arousal would be stimulated enough to help students follow through.  The most motivated students are the ones who ask questions, who want to know why a search did or did not work.  Until a student has a real need, they are just not concerned about where their information is coming from.  Faculty must be involved in developing that need.  The one shot library session is pointless if there are no assignments requiring library use and the instructor is cool with wiki results.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


So...tying things together...

I'm still dealing with a one-shot class where the instructor may or may not be on board.  Assessing the students would definitely require buy in on their part.  My thought is to create a couple of assessment activities -- one that could be done as part of the class and one that enlists the instructor.

Potential conflicts -- I cannot imagine students willing to do any kind of prep if the activity is ungraded.  I can recommend that students examine periodicals before class, but I cannot insist.

Tools I can use -

  • a debate between groups over which source type is "best"
  • a one minute paper on what source type you might use for a practical class (drawing for example)
  • have students examine a reference list and decide as a group what each source is
  • have students create a bibliography describing each source type

These assessments could get at understanding, but would not necessarily give me assurance that the student will expand their knowledge into other classes.

Do my learning goals help the students assess their own performance?    I don't know.  It might help them reflect on the usefulness of each source type.

I think overall, the goals and the assessments fit together.  My concern is applicability to the larger picture (I almost wrote "to the larger student" but thought better of it).  I want students to think 


but in a one shot session I wouldn't be able to speak to the professional context of authority.

At this point I'm looking at: 
1. One shot class with new college students.
2. As a result of this source type exercise at least 75% of the students will be able to identify where to look for information, and when faced with a citation, figure out where it came from.
3.Bring the future into this -- where will this be useful?
4. Plan on at LEAST a one minute paper on the difference between source types.
5. Is everything aligned?  I think this is a chance to reflect on MY part and ask the instructors to help me follow up. 

Week 2 - Looking forward

A student just came to me.  He's writing the capstone paper for his degree and he is trying to accurately cite his sources.  He cannot do this because he doesn't know what he is looking at.  This is one of the reasons why I want to make more of an emphasis on source type in the early part of their programs.  How timely!

Thinking about the reading: As a result of this source type exercise at least 75% of the students will be able to identify where to look for information, and when faced with a citation, figure out where it came from.

1. Forward looking assessment.  The above case is certainly a situation, but would only be applicable to the students getting BAs rather than associates degrees because associate students don't write capstone papers..  The critical thinking class I mentioned in the first week is required of all programs so I really want to consider a forward looking assessment that would encompass all students.  One thought is to ask students to look up product reviews in trade publications.  This would be appropriate for any program with a technical component.  And, this would require that students be deliberate in their searching.  Students struggle with the idea of authority and REALLY want authority to lie in the boring old academic journal, but they will not find product reviews there!

2. Criteria and Standards
In order to be deliberate in their searching, students need to formulate an information need.

This could be
a. a clear thesis statement
  • Below Expectations: Thesis statement does not include keywords. Idea is all over the map.
  • Meets Expectations: Statement is a clear information need with searchable key words included
b. a specific data element (demographics for example)
  • Below Expectations: Student is looking for impossible or proprietary information. Information need is either overly specific or far too broad.
  • Meets Expectations: Student is looking for specific and reasonable data (a review or  industry demographics)

3. Self assessment would ideally come in the form of them practicing a search and discovering it's usefulness or not.  This may take the form of group work in which students attempt to determine where a source is from.  

4. FIDeLity Feedback.
This is tough in a one-shot class.  I am always available to these students, but am not in the position of grading them.  I have tried to have follow up meetings with students, but that seems unlikely in this case.  This would probably have to be done in conjunction with the course instructor.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

IDE Week 1

Part 1
I get into a lot of classes, mostly one shots.  But Critical Thinking is a class that is a puzzle.  There is a lot of room for me to work closely with instructors, but at this point only a few instructors allow me into their classrooms.  The fail rate is high and I believe it could be made better with more collaboration.

Specific Context
First or second quarter students...these are art students who often don't care for the idea of general education at all.  They want to be taking program classes.  Critical Thinking seems like a waste of time to them.  Usually about 20 or 25 students per section, with 3 to 5 sections per quarter.  They meet once a week for four hours.  I get to spend 45 minutes with them to advance their research skills.

General Context
The goal for the class, as outlined by the curriculum, is to identify and develop critical thinking skills, processes and techniques. This is fairly loosely arranged, but is designed to start students on the college path.  I introduce the library in general in a different class.  In the Critical Thinking class I am trying to introduce the first frame "Authority is constructed and contextual".

Nature of the Subect
This is a theoretical class with implications for program classes.  The class is a catchall for other curriculum needs, including a general orientation to the degree programs and an introduction to research skills.  This is a good spot for the discussion of authority as they do it in a larger context.

Characteristics of the Learners
Students are all very creative, but not all driven to succeed.  There is a good mix between older students and new high school grads.   Many of the students never expected to attend college and many are the first college students in their families.  Some have learned research skills in the past, but for many, this is a brave new world.  They are hands-on-learners.

Characteristics of the Teacher
The instructors of the class itself are all over the map.  One is a chef instructor.  One is close to retirement.  One has a background in journalism.  One has a degree in communications.  Some are energetic.  Some are not. they have not all been convinced of the importance of having the librarian visit class.  My own strengths include being able to think on my feet and formulate search problems quickly depending on the interests of the students.

Part 2
A year or more after the course is over I want and hope students will know the difference between information sources.

I hope they remember to think of their own information need before searching.  The idea of authority being contextual is very important in knowing WHERE and HOW to search.  Need dictates authority. This is both information and idea.
Students must think critically so that they other thinking styles fall into place.
Specifically I want them to understand the difference between source types and when each is useful.  This is not complex, but it's important.  Students unwilling to examine their own goals, or afraid to, will not be successful researchers.
Students will ideally see how this is relevant to their larger lives as well as their school programs.

Students invariably want authority to be invested in academic literature without question.  They are willing to assign that power to an unreachable authority.  Learning that they are in control of determining who holds authority can be enlightening.