It has been a little while since my last entry. Over the past couple of weeks I've helped between 15 and 20 students and have learned a lot. It's been fun reflecting on how much I've learned, but in terms of all the libraries indexes and resources, I've barely started to skim the surface. Additionally, I've s also spent some time here and there working on my brochure assignment, but it's been challenging to find time to really concentrate on it.
As far as helping students, it's been both fun and challenging. The most challenging thing is working with students who have absolutely no idea what they want to write or search about and want someone to tell them what to write about. The thing I find most interesting is the huge differences between the level of students' research skills. Some have done extensive search and can name their favorite databases while some don't even know indexes exist. It's great having the skills necessary to help students of all levels. So far the two months of having walk-in hours has been successful and surpassed all of my expectations for the PRC program.
Last week I had the privilege of working with my first student. The individual needed help finding articles on their topic. I showed the student some helpful tips for searching topics and explained the difference between the general indexes and the subject specific indexes.
After searching for a bit it was evident that their topic was too narrow and it would not be possible to find the eight scholarly sources she was seeking for her paper. I helped her broaden the topic in order to find more sources. After another search it was evident that the broader topic generated substantially more hits when searching the indexes and would allow for a better developed argument with the possibility of including opposing points of views if they choose to do so. At the end we filled out the intake form and she seemed satisfied with the session and felt like she had the ability to find additional resources on her own to complete the paper. I advised her to return if she encountered any further difficulties and I or one of the other PRCs would be more than happy to help her again.
I roved for the first on Saturday. It was really interesting. It was a very small class and the IT work being done on the University's servers made the session interesting since not all of the university sites were working. Luckily, the pages which could not be accessed were on the power point the instructor was using, so everything was still really clear. There wasn't much help needed on that day since the class was so small, but I made the certificates which kept me busier. It will be interesting to see how the different instructors teach the same Unravel course differently.
So on Friday while I was at Wilson I had quality interaction with a student. Although they did not need any help with a research paper, I told them all about the program and the service we provide. She seemed a bit skeptical and was extremely unfamiliar with the library website so I had her pick a random topic and we did some research so she could see how a person finds scholarly articles through the library's web site. By the end she knew what an indexes and journals were as well as how to find articles and pick which index to use. I also introduced her to google scholar. Although she didn't actually have a paper to work on, I feel as though she was able to learn a lot in the 10 minutes she was there.
Last week was the first week that the other PRC's and I started actually working with students (or at least we were available to do so)! On Wednesday I was in the SMART Learning Commons in Walter Library. Jody took Tony, another PRC, and myself on a small tour of the facility and to MCAE to that we could get situated. Unfortunately, I did not have any students that approached me for assistance, but I hope that will change in the future.
Wednesday at MCAE and Thursday at Wilson produced similar results. Although i didn't help any students with peer research advising, all of the other tutors were very busy and I helped a student or two with physics. This gave me an opportunity to practice my communication skills with students, which will also be necessary when students seek help with their research papers. It will be interesting to see if this week will be different from the last in regards to the number of students helped!
The other two Peer Research Consultants (PRCs) and myself are still going through all of the training necessary to become fully competent in academic library research. By the end of our training, we should be extremely knowledgeable on how to find research papers on a particular topic that are relevant and scholarly.
Aside from all of the training we have been doing, we also had an opportunity to meet many of the other staff with whom we will regularly see through out the library. It was great being able to meet everyone who has worked so hard to create the PRC position over the past couple of years as well as the other students who also work in the SMART Learning Commons. Aside from socializing and getting to know a lot of the staff, we were able to enjoy some wonderful treats and beverages! It was a great experience!