Jon Jeffryes: September 2010 Archives

Coffee Club Thoughts on PIL

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So far I've only had a chance to read one of the articles that we're set to discuss next Wednesday (September 29th @ 3:30 in 308 Andersen--New Location!).

After my last post on this blog, it may come as no surprise that I decided to start with the "How Handouts for Research Assignments Guide Today's College Students".  (I've pretty much decided that every time I post to this blog it will in some form or another deal with handouts :)

I thought the entire article had an interesting tension as the author's see the print handout as the key information resource for students ("we would argue that handouts are often a roadmap for students to use during the course-related research process; they carry handouts with them when they complete assignments...") minimizing the importance of other types of support (both online and in-person) that professors may provide to student research while they simultaneously exhort professors to move past a focus on print based library materials.

That aside, one of their major findings appears to be that these assignment handouts don't include the library or guidance on information resources.

I think we've all encountered students coming to the library looking for information for a research project that they haven't been given enough guidance on...so if we're not on the actual assignment handout (and I'm not surprised that we're not...although the libraries are central to us...it's not always going to be foremost on the mind of everyone else) what are best practices to still provide support?

In the past when we've seen students from the same class come in to the reference desk to work on a particular assignment, we'll contact the liaison so they can email the professor and let them know that they're available to help their students (I'm always surprised when I tell instructors that they can forward students directly to me and they think that they'll be inconveniencing me by making me available for student questions!). 

I think our Library Course Page system and the way its been integrated into our new web presence is another solution...sure it's not a handout, but if they come to the Libraries website and log in, they can easily see course-related support.

The Phase II Environmental Scan may also be useful...by contacting faculty and instructors for syllabi we may be able to locate assignments before the handout is finalized and offer to have our contact info added to the handout, or offer to collaborate on its creation. (It never hurts to offer...the worst that can happen is that they'll say no.  And that would only put you back to where you currently are.)

How else can we bring the library to the students if not included in the assignment handouts?

The Art of the Handout

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(Image from Gregory Bastien via Flickr.  CC)

Last week was an instruction-filled week for me as I led two course-integrated information literacy instruction sessions, taught a drop-in workshop on Intro to Citation Managers, and gave an orientation presentation to a grad student research group.

Each time I was prepping for these very different workshops I found myself stumbling at the same point...how to use the handout.

For a while I was anti-handout...I didn't think students found them useful, I figured that I was putting a lot of time into a product that most likely ended up in a garbage can (if I was lucky, a recycle bin--Save the Planet!).

But when I tried to institute handout-free instruction sessions I got a lot of push back from attendees.  In evaluation forms I'd hear things like "A handout of material covered would be helpful"  or "Would like a handout to jot down notes."  So I went back to providing paper mementos of my workshop.

But I never know what the best use of the the handout is.   After last year's Active Learning Workshop...I started incorporating the "reaction log" into most of my instruction sessions as a means of allowing attendees to interact with the information covered.

For some workshops...like this presentation I just gave the Biomedical Engineering Design Class...I try to incorporate research tips into my handout.  But then for others I just include a list of useful links.

So I'm interested to know what your best practices are for handouts?  Are you still using them?  If so, are you sharing them in the IL Toolkit? It's a great place to visit to jumpstart ideas!

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries written by Jon Jeffryes in September 2010.

Jon Jeffryes: August 2010 is the previous archive.

Jon Jeffryes: October 2010 is the next archive.

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