December 2010 Archives

BComm and library research

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library_research.jpgI was interested to read the ideas of a Business Communication faculty member and her experience with her student's lack of library research skills--and she create a research guide to help. 

"When I taught Writing for Business this fall, I realized that my students were more noticeably clueless about library research-and less motivated to do it-than any students I'd had in the past..."

"The good news is that students can and will do library research if they're given a road map through the admittedly confusing options that greet them when the "go to" the library. Let's keep library research from becoming obsolete by setting our students up for research success and helping them find the "really cool stuff" (as one of my students said) that's out there."

image from:gorbould

Two related blog posts:article.jpg

Using the 'arsenic bacteria' story as a teaching moment for undergraduates

"This story provides a unique teaching opportunity for faculty and librarians to discuss the issues of peer review and scientific communication with undergraduate students. First, you have scientists on record saying that basically, the peer review system didn't work as well as we'd like... Second, you have the controversy about where scientific debate should take place."

"...Precisely because it is so perfectly science-librarianish. It combines an interest and fascination with science and the scientific method with the drive to carry out one of the core missions of the academic librarian. That would be what we call Information Literacy instruction. In other words, helping faculty teach their students about the process of scholarly communication in the sciences...Picking up a bit where she left off, I started to think in a bit more detail about how I could use the issue as kind of a case study in scientific communications and the media in the 21st century." This post includes links to stories that trace the evolution of the story...
The Center for Research Libraries gives an annual award to instructors using primary sources. Seems like their winner are great examples we could point faculty to.

I am hoping to develop an email to send to faculty with a "need a little inspiration" sort of feel to it with some of the exhibits, unique database, maybe images. This might be a good way to share the "how" these can be used:

Award for Teaching:

primary.jpgDr. Anne Urbancic--Senior Lecturer, Italian Studies at the University of Toronto, Victoria College.
Nominated by Roma Kail, Reference, Research and Instruction Librarian, Victoria University in the University of Toronto.

To empower students to explore and engage the historiographical questions posed in this synopsis, Urbancic's course enabled undergraduate students to approach research like historians. The course was designed to provide the needed skills for such an undertaking through traditional classroom pedagogy, experiential exercises, and the creative use of primary source materials.

Award for Access: 

Dr. Elisabeth McMahon--Assistant Professor of History, Tulane University
Nominated by Dr. Randy Sparks, Professor and Chair of the History Department, Tulane University.

So for her spring 2009 Archiving Africa class, Dr. McMahon engaged her students in a community outreach partnership with the Amistad Research Center, an independent, nonprofit special collections library on the Tulane campus. The Archiving Africa class aimed to introduce upper-level seminar students to primary source documents on African history. By working with an Africa-related special collections library, the students received significant hands-on, primary-source experience while fulfilling the service-learning requirement.

Award for Research:

twitter_stream.jpgDr. G. R. Boynton--Professor of Political Science, University of Iowa
Nominated by Nicole Saylor, Head, Digital Library Services, University of Iowa Libraries.

Professor Boynton has received the 2010 Primary Source Award for Research for a project that deploys eight computers in the Main Library at the University of Iowa to continually harvest from the Web data on new media trends.

Learn more:

Students on the Web

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activelearningclassroom.jpgYou have probably seen this in the past week, College Students on the Web, by Jacob Nielsen. Great, short read that is useful for all the stuff we do on the web from LCP to Library homepage to tutorials...

Myths about Student Internet Use: 
Myth 1: Students Are Technology Wizards 
Myth 2: Students Crave Multimedia and Fancy Design 
Myth 3: Students Are Enraptured by Social Networking 

"Students are busy and grant themselves little time on individual websites. They pass over areas that appear too difficult or cumbersome to use. If they don't perceive an immediate payoff for their efforts, they won't click on a link, fix an error, or read detailed instructions." 

 "Students are strongly search dominant and turn to search at the smallest provocation in terms of difficult navigation." 

 "Instead, students consider websites as tools. A good site is one that helps them quickly accomplish their goals."

 "As with other higher-literacy adults, such as business professionals, students prefer websites that are easy to scan and don't intimidate them with a wall of gray text." 

 "Despite their general level of skepticism, most students suffered from Google Gullibility where they often uncritically selected the first result returned on the SERP (search engine results page)."

 "Students usually kept many browser tabs open at the same time. When a site slowed them down, they'd usually switch to another tab and continue on another site. "
springer_vis.jpgHere is a link to a brief write up on some new tools created by Springer. The tools visualize in real time the use of Springer resources. Pretty cool site. I wonder what this would look like for some of our most heavily used databases.


 I will think of this the next time I hear someone say the phrase, "we need to reform education."
I just had a chance to look through Jacquelyn Petzold, Brian Winterman, and Kristi Montooth's article, "Science Seeker: A New Model for Teaching Information Literacy to Entry-Level Biology Undergraduates" in the most recent issue of Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship.

The article outlines the "Science Seeker" assignment that they introduced into some intro-level Biology Classes at Indiana University.  In the assignment students "were asked to select a topic from their textbook and follow the development of this topic reverse chronologically through the literature until they arrived at a primary source that demonstrated the empirical validity of the concept."

The idea behind this assignment was to "demonstrate to students that biological principles recorded in their textbooks did not spring fully formed from the mind of a single scientist but are instead constructed and revised based on the observations and experimental results of a large community of scientists."

I thought this approach might have interest to all instruction librarians...I like the way that the authors have tied what students are reading in their textbooks to the research that they'll be searching for in their library sessions.  I also think this a great introduction to the conversation that makes up scholarly communication and the iterative process of research--topics that I often don't have time to cover when I'm focused solely on the "this is how you search this database" mindframe.

These librarians were able to go into multiple class sessions...which may not be applicable to all of our situations (I'm pretty sure not applicable to mine) but there were still some creative ways of addressing some info lit topics that I may try and incorporate in my next class session:

  • "Together the class compiled a list of general quality indicators (e.g. authority, currency) that could be applied to any information source, which the librarian recorded on the classroom chalkboard."  I know in the past when I've covered this topic I've always taken more of the "sage on the stage" approach.  I like the idea of working with the students to generate these criteria.
  • "Students were asked to brainstorm a list of reasons for citing sources with possible explanations ranging from 'plagiarism is bad' to 'showing that I have read up on this topic gives me credibility.'"  Once again the idea of making this a conversation and having students question why they have to do things. 

The article is a quick read.  If you're interested in reading the whole thing you can take a look at the ISTL website.

Marriage of Art and Science-Qwiki

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One of our colleagues shared a video with a preview of Qwiki--for "information experiences"

Qwiki at TechCrunch Disrupt from Qwiki on Vimeo.

It claims to be a "platform" for any content on any device....seems to me like a talking wikipedia with more images... 

What do you think?
I was browsing the current email newsletter from ALA Direct and quickly flew by the Tech Talk features until something make me stop....I realized sometimes I don't appreciate the technology that is inherent in libraries. Here is a sample


A holiday tree made out of books....can you ask for anything more?

Using Online Forms: Get Feedback, Assess Needs, Shape Content: Online survey tools can help librarians obtain feedback from students and faculty in order to plan the content of a library session
KL Clarke & Laurel Haycock.  Library Assembly. 12/1/2010.

Description: Used tools like Google to gather feedback from students about library tools they currently used and what they wanted to learn more about. Then used the data to focus their in-class efforts. 


Copyright Workshops from the University Libraries: Reflecting on the first semester
by Nancy Sims


Description: Talked about developing two new workshops on copyright, attendance, content, using clickers and evaluations.

Find the originals and more great posters at

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