Friday, May 22, 2015

Week 3 Post - Julie

  1. Discuss which theory/ies might be most applicable to your instruction and outline a specific activity/assignment/exercise that would facilitate learning according to that theory.

I'm really drawn to constructivism, and upon reading some of the sample exercises in the Cooperstein and Kocevar-Weidinger article, I realize that that's the approach I've been taking in my instruction sessions. Knowing about the theory will enable me to refine my teaching methods further.

One exercise I currently teach is the database game: after a very brief overview of the LibGuide we're working with, I challenge students to find three sources that they feel are potentially useful for their research assignment. The first student to find three wins a small prize (usually a library-branded carabiner or temporary tattoo). Through the process of verifying the winner's results, I demo our databases and point out some of their key features.

The problem with this exercise, though, is that students are usually reluctant to share any problems or challenges they had with the databases, so they miss out on an opportunity for feedback and troubleshooting. Thus, I'm probably going to retire it at the end of the year (at least in its current form). However, I'm wondering if I can keep the experiment-first, explain-later aspect of the exercise. Perhaps I can reconfigure it into something like this:

1. Students choose one or more databases from the recommended list in the LibGuide
2. After a few minutes of searching, they use a Google form on the LibGuide to anonymously submit the database and keywords they used, plus a link to one article they found OR a brief explanation of any problems they had (ie., couldn't find anything good).
3. Students partner up and debrief while I skim the form results.
4. I use a combination of student volunteers ("Who found something good? Show me what you did!") and the form results to troubleshoot and demo database features. Perhaps I can encourage student participation by offering tattoos. (Our students really love the temporary tattoos.)

It's pretty rough in its current form, but it's a start.

Next, consider what you learned from Small's article on motivation and address how you are going to motivate your learners/students

The students already have a major external motivation: they're tasked by their instructors to find sources for their research papers. However, I think I can encourage positive feelings about the library by demonstrating that 1) databases and catalogs are designed to be user-friendly and 2) librarians are here to help. Also, giving away library swag can serve as a short-term motivator.

1 comment:

  1. I really like the Google form idea as a way to get more replies. I had it be a verbal feedback system, but then you usually get only certain people replying. Your system would give people an opportunity to share without concern and likely provide some valuable examples of common missteps.