Posts Tagged ‘Dartmouth Institute for Writing and Rhetoric’

In this session, which was co-sponsored by the Library and the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric (IWR), participants explored the the challenges faced by students and faculty when integrating audio, video, images, and text into student research. Karen Gocsik, IWR faculty, shared that a student of hers once wanted to use two YouTube videos in a paper he was writing on house churches in China. The videos he selected were personal videos that appeared to be made by members of the churches, and they showed scenes that contrasted sharply with each other. Karen shared some of the problems these videos presented:

  • How does one understand the content of the videos? How do we sufficiently contextualize them in order to read them accurately?
  • Are the scenes shown in the videos representative of house churches in China, or are they anomalies?
  • How could the student incorporate the clip in his paper, similar to a block quote from a textual source, rather than just citing it as evidence?

The workshop participants contemplated these, and other questions, about incorporating multimodal sources into research papers. During the discussion, we looked at the Journal of e-Media Studies. This  freely available online journal, which is published at Dartmouth, incorporates text, audio, video, and still images in its articles in unique ways. (Example.) Participants discussed the benefits and drawbacks of this type of publication, and the ways these methods might be effective employed in the classroom.

Lastly, in an academic tradition that relies heavily on writing as the means of communication and assessment, do students have the technical and intellectual skills to effectively incorporate multimodal sources in their research? And, likewise, do faculty have the skills to assess them?

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A panel of three librarians presented at this session that was co-hosted by the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric and the Dartmouth College Library: Laura Braunstein, English Language and Literature Librarian, Noah Lowenstein, Physics and Astronomy Librarian, and Fran Oscadal, History and Government Librarian.

Laura, Noah, and Fran each shared experiences they had working with faculty and students on research assignments. The classes they worked with included Writing 5, First Year Seminars, and the History Foreign Study Program. I won’t detail each of their experiences here, but instead will share the common threads to which each attributed their success and comments from the faculty on the benefits of collaborating with librarians.

Tips for successful faculty/librarian collaborations:

  • The earlier you begin working with your librarian, the better your students’ experience (and learning!) will be.  Get in touch with your librarian well in advance of the term, if possible.  This will give the librarian a chance to create support materials (such as a course webpage), to order any books needed that the library does not already own, and for the two of you to collaborate on the design of and librarian support for your assignment(s).
  • Strategically time the librarian’s visit(s) to your class at key points in the assignment.  By aiming for “point of need” instruction, students will be more engaged and will learn more from the session.
  • With your librarian, create diagnostic assignments that will help you both assess what students know and don’t know about library research so you can design a session targeted at their needs.  In Bill Nichols Writing 5 class, Fran attended a session during which the students shared their research interests.  Fran was able to respond in real-time to their ideas, giving suggestions for resources such as Rauner Library, the Planning Office, archives of the D, and more.  Noah created a survey for students in Physics 7 to complete before his first class visit.  The survey asked the students to identify a source type from a citation, to determine if a certain journal article was available in the Library, and to do some scripted catalog searches and reflect on the experience.  Noah used the survey results to design a class session that was much better suited for their needs than a general “library basics” session would have been.

Faculty feedback on collaborations with librarians:

  • By working with a librarian, the students are introduced to both the faculty member’s expertise in her/his own research area and to research tools that cover a broader spectrum of topics and disciplines that are relevant to the students’ work.
  • Librarians help both faculty and students create order from the “messy, unorderly” resources on unfamiliar topics.  It is our job, as librarians, to be aware of and familiar with a broad range of research tools and to act as a “research coach” for you and your students.
  • By working with multiple people (your librarian, a writing assistant, RWIT tutors, etc.) the faculty and students benefit from a team of experts who are engaged with the course and are available to support the students throughout the research and writing processes.

In short, working with a librarian early (and often!) will benefit your students and will result in a successful, collaborative teaching experience for you.

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Last Thursday, Dartmouth’s Institute for Writing and Rhetoric sponsored the lunchtime workshop, “Curiously Enough: Dialogic Classroom Discussions,” in which Speech Instructor Josh Compton led twenty faculty through an examination of the role of curiosity in the learning process, offering strategies for promoting and practicing curiosity in our classrooms.

Josh began his workshop by pointing out the many virtues of curiosity, noting the important role that it plays in learning. Josh sees curiosity as a kind of cognitive dissonance that makes the mind crave resolution, instilling the desire to know. When our students are curious, they will be willing to expose themselves to new information and will work to fill in the gaps between what they know, and what we want them to know.

Josh offered useful advice for practicing curiosity in class discussions. He noted that faculty need to begin by asking open-ended questions and then allowing students sufficient time for their curiosity to grow. This strategy sounds simple enough—until we think about the way that we actually respond to students during class discussions. Josh revealed some interesting research findings regarding these responses. For instance, when we respond to students with an encouraging phatic response (like “oh?” or “really?”), students respond with an average of 4.6 words; when we respond with a one-second silence, students respond with an average of 7 words; and when we respond with three seconds of silence, students respond with an average of 28 words. In sum, students need time: time to formulate their thoughts, and time to practice their curiosity.

curiously enough

Dialogic Classroom Discussions

Josh also pointed out that we should not be afraid of conflict in our class discussions. He cited a study in which two groups of elementary school students were invited to work together on a task. One group was encouraged to debate and to engage in healthy conflict; the other group was told that they must work without any conflict whatsoever. When it was time for recess, the students were given a choice: they could go out to play, or they could continue with their discussions. 45% of the students in the group that permitted conflict chose to give up their recess, while only 18% of the students in the non-conflict group made the same decision. Clearly, conflict (healthy conflict) engages students: sustaining their curiosity, improving their learning.

Finally, Josh reminded us to model curiosity for our students. Faculty, who are experts in their fields, sometimes forget the curiosity that initially inspired them. Reconnecting with this curiosity—and showing students how to use their own curiosity to motivate themselves to learn—can transform our class discussions into authentic exchanges based on the practice of shared curiosity.

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yeah, it's long -- I didn't have time to make it shorter

Feral Librarian

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