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Teaching how to structure literature reviews via 1990s movies - Kirsty Thomson

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Teaching how to structure
literature reviews via 1990s movies
Kirsty Thomson
Academic Support and Liaison Librarian
Heriot...

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Outline
• Context.
• Practical and discussion.
• Reflections on my
experiences.
• Questions.

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Why?
• “One-shot” teaching for most subjects.
• Main focus of classes is finding good quality literature.
• “… now you can...

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Teaching how to structure literature reviews via 1990s movies - Kirsty Thomson

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Presented at LILAC 2022

Presented at LILAC 2022

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Teaching how to structure literature reviews via 1990s movies - Kirsty Thomson

  1. 1. Teaching how to structure literature reviews via 1990s movies Kirsty Thomson Academic Support and Liaison Librarian Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Email: k.s.thomson@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @kirsty_thomson
  2. 2. Outline • Context. • Practical and discussion. • Reflections on my experiences. • Questions.
  3. 3. Why? • “One-shot” teaching for most subjects. • Main focus of classes is finding good quality literature. • “… now you can use these good quality papers in your assignment …” • Questions from students showed they were anxious about what to do next. • “… but how do I turn these PDFs into a literature review?”
  4. 4. How did I tackle this gap? • Wanted a practical exercise: • widely-accepted that students learn more doing things (and reflecting on what they are doing), compared to passively listening to lectures (e.g. Bonwell and Eison, 1991). • “it appeared that once the instructor solved the problem, the student soon forgot how the problem was solved” (Romanow, Napier and Cline, 2020, p. 228). • Did not want to ask them to do pre-reading, or use class time reading papers. • Also wanted something fun and informal – continually trying to change students’ perceptions of libraries/librarians. • Idea of using films adapted from a LILAC session (Deutsch and West, 2018).
  5. 5. What did I do? 1. Got students to work in groups, summarizing films and identifying their themes. 2. Showed students how to convert their themes into a literature review structure. 3. Pointed out that creating own summaries whilst reading makes writing assignments easier.
  6. 6. Who have I been doing this with? Students • UG honours - SCQF 10 (EQF level 6). • UG masters, PG masters - SCQF 11 (EQF level 7). • Majority from English- speaking or European countries. Subject areas • Brewing and Distilling. • Chemistry. • Chemical Engineering. • Engineering apprentices. • Marine Science. • Renewable Energy.
  7. 7. Slides from classes
  8. 8. Practical
  9. 9. Summaries and themes from students
  10. 10. Structuring a literature review with students
  11. 11. My experiences of teaching this class
  12. 12. Choosing films • Make sure you have overlapping themes. • Older films seem to work well. • my theories: • students like being able to make fun of something. • criticising these films feels safe. • no consequences if they are “wrong” – not science/engineering questions. • Titanic, Jurassic Park, Romeo and Juliet combination effective. • almost everyone is aware of the plot of Titanic and Jurassic Park. • usually at least one person in each group has either done Romeo and Juliet at school, or has an awareness of the plot.
  13. 13. More recent films • Tried a class with Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. • Not nearly as successful. • were students reluctant to share their opinions about films from their childhood? • fear of appearing uncool by revealing knowledge about something they now considered childish (or felt they should consider childish)? • Only tried this once so might have just been this cohort, or the small class size.
  14. 14. Face-to-face, online, hybrid • Have done this successfully with face-to-face, online, and hybrid classes. • In hybrid classes, it can be more difficult to give equal balance to online participants in the discussion. • easier when there’s a lecturer following the chat, who can be the online students’ voice. • Don’t worry about classroom layout – students happy to move chairs, lean round PCs, turn backwards in lecture theatre, etc.
  15. 15. Tips for class discussion (1) • Ask for contributions rather than going round every group. • Be selective about what you write on board. • Keep turning discussion back to literature reviews: • Jurassic Park has lots of sequels = citing references. • Leonardo DiCaprio is in two of these films = key author in the field. • When doing structure, make sure you point out that a “paper” can be used in more than one section of their literature review.
  16. 16. Tips for class discussion (2) • Many students don’t know than literature reviews should be more than just summaries of articles, and that they are expected to synthesise, critique, and explain (Shahsavar and Kourepaz, 2020). • important to draw their attention to these additional requirements. • e.g. use comments like “that bit of wood was totally big enough for both of them” as examples of critical thinking.
  17. 17. Recap of what was I trying to achieve • Academic learning outcomes: • reflecting on reading (themes/summaries) makes it easier to write literature reviews. • literature reviews should be structured around themes. • techniques for outlining their literature reviews. • Secondary outcome: • fun and informal activity to build rapport with students.
  18. 18. Did I succeed? • (University policy on not doing unnecessary surveys.) • Students quickly grasp the concept of identifying themes, and spontaneously start looking for similarities and differences between the films. • Students enjoy the class. • “I really liked Kirsty’s way of teaching the session – she made it fun”.
  19. 19. Final thoughts • No two classes will be the same, especially as students often describe films through the lens of their own subjects. • Important to emphasise journal article metaphors so that the session seems relevant. • Students will make a lot of jokes, but there is often relevant content in these: • “Jurassic Park ended badly for humans, but not for dinosaurs” – differing interpretations of results. • “Romeo and Juliet would have been improved by dinosaurs” – is there evidence for this? is this an unexplored area of research? • Structure of class means it’s easy to keep control of discussion by moving on to the next film/section. • Students do not carry pens!
  20. 20. References • Bonwell, C.C. and Eison, J.A. (1991) Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Reports No.1. Washington, DC: The George Washington University, School of Education and Human Development. • Deutsch, A. and West, B. (2018) Starting strong: engaging students with anticipatory sets, LILAC Conference, Liverpool. 4-6 April. https://www.lilacconference.com/lilac- archive/lilac-2018#papersandposters • Romanow, D., Napier, N.P. and Cline, M.K. (2020) 'Using active learning, group formation, and discussion to increase student learning: A business intelligence skills analysis', Journal of Information Systems Education, 31(3), pp. 218-231. • Shahsavar, Z. and Kourepaz, H. (2020) 'Postgraduate students’ difficulties in writing their theses literature review', Cogent Education, 7(1), 1784620.
  21. 21. Kirsty Thomson Academic Support and Liaison Librarian Heriot-Watt University Email: k.s.thomson@hw.ac.uk Telephone: 0131 451 8074 Twitter: @kirsty_thomson

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