Info Lit Assignment: Science Seeker

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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.

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I like the idea...going from the known to the unknown--much more effective then the traditional "do research on a class topic you are interested in". And great examples of active learning that could be done anywhere with any size group--and help instructors see where there students are at (hopefully they would get involved too).

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This page contains a single entry by Jon Jeffryes published on December 13, 2010 2:15 PM.

Marriage of Art and Science-Qwiki was the previous entry in this blog.

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