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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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info-fetishist

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

Feral Librarian

Research libraries & higher education. Sometimes music, sports, & other stuff.