Composition Library Instruction

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Composition Library Instruction

  1. 1. English Composition and Information Literacy libguides.montevallo.edu/compinstructors
  2. 2. Information Literacy Instruction That Supports English Composition Lauren Wallis Reference & Instruction Librarian lwallis@montevallo.edu This booklet outlines information literacy activities that encourage students to think critically about information they encounter and create. The activities focus on creating meaning through interactions—students must interact with information, with each other, with librarians, and with their instructors. I engage the ACRL Information Literacy Standards as useful guideposts that are meant to be questioned. When trying to apply the ACRL Standards in the classroom, it’s possible to get bogged down in a linear process: I picture students on a conveyer belt proceeding through steps 1, 2, 3, a, b, c. In many ways the Standards position “the information literate student” as an object, a goal, that can be reached through unproblematic skills-based instruction. The very term “literacy” implies an either/or: either you’re information literate, or you’re not. My approach aims to decenter power in the classroom, encouraging students to take control of their learning experience, recognize the skills they have already developed, and become excited and confident about entering scholarly conversations. In outlining these information literacy activities and classes, I hope to present options for instruction that are meaningful for English Composition students and supportive of your assignments. I am happy to work with you to tailor an activity to an assignment—or collaborate to develop a new activity—and I encourage you to bring your classes in for instruction multiple times throughout the semester. As you look over the activities, please feel free to contact me with questions. I am excited to work with you and your students! “Critical information literacy exists in relationships between people and information rather than as an identifiable thing in its own right.” -James Elmborg Contents EXPLORE LOCATE EVALUATE
  3. 3. ORGANIZE Students often enter the composition classroom as ultimate newcomers; they are just beginning to learn about academic conversations, and their ability to evaluate information is unrefined. To first-year students, the process of identifying important ideas, marshaling evidence to become informed, and expressing themselves in compelling ways seems like a daunting, if not impossible task. Composition instructors realize that writing is a symbiotic exchange between research— locating information and evaluating it—and expression—integrating one’s voice with the knowledge and ideas that others have already created. In the digital age, this exchange has been productively complicated by the rise of blogs, videos, and social media. At one time students were only expected to find print resources; now, students should realize that a blog post or even a single tweet can change the complexion of an academic conversation. Our entire conception of what counts as good, relevant information has evolved. The ideas in this booklet are designed to help you imagine how one well-respected rubric, the ACRL Information Literacy Standards, can become the basis of your approach to information literacy education. Furthermore, these pages provide a few examples of how instruction librarians at Carmichael can become involved in your class and help your students develop the craft of academic discourse. We offer many hands-on instruction sessions that invite students to engage with digital technologies and fashion themselves as publically- important writers. We’re always willing to work with you and support the education that takes place in your class. Andrew Battista Information Literacy & Reference Librarian abattista@montevallo.edu QUESTION “Students must realize that their personal and academic language activities (speaking, reading, writing) are inseparable from their information seeking behaviors.” -Elisabeth Pankl and Jason Coleman Assessment & Further Reading
  4. 4. EXPLORE STUDENTS ASK: What kind of information do I need? Where should I start to look? 1a - Identify library resources and services. 1b - Locate background information from general sources. 1c - Identify key concepts and vocabulary related to a topic. 1d - Develop a working thesis statement and ask related research questions. Potential Learning Outcomes There are two facets to these classes: exploring physical and virtual library spaces, and exploring a research idea.
  5. 5. Tumblring through the Library Time: Full Class Period Learning Outcomes: 1a Students are given a series of 5-7 questions about the library. In groups, they use the Tumblr iPad app to add pictures and captions of their findings to a class Tumblr. As we discuss the pictures at the end of class, students learn about library services and resources. Instagrama-rama Time: Full Class Period Learning Outcomes: 1a Students are given a series of 5-7 questions about the library. In groups, they “answer” their questions by adding pictures and captions of their findings to the Carmichael Library Instagram. As we discuss the pictures at the end of class, students learn about library services and resources. The Anti-Tour Time: Full Class Period Learning Outcomes: 1a, 1b, 1c As student groups navigate the library, they complete five activities that help them practice foundational research skills such as developing keywords, using a reference source, searching a database, and finding books. The Anti-Tour is highly customizable to your class theme and readings. Classes & Activities Mindmeister Mindmeld Time: 25 minutes Learning Outcomes: 1b, 1c Students use the Mindmeister iPad app to create a concept map about a research topic. Ethnographers in the Stacks Time: Full Class Period Learning Outcomes: 1a Students become ethnographers for an hour as they observe the library environment and inhabitants, take fieldnotes, and draw maps. By sharing their findings at the end of class, students learn about library services and resources. O R I E N T A T I O N ! O R I E N T A T I O N ! O R I E N T A T I O N ! O R I E N T A T I O N !
  6. 6. LOCATE STUDENTS ASK: What kind of information do I need? Where should I start to look? LOCATE STUDENTS ASK: Where can I best find the info I need? How do I use the database (or other resource) most effectively? Potential Learning Outcomes 2a - Recognize the scope, content, and general organization of a library database or other information resource. 2b - Develop a list of search terms and apply them to basic search functions in a database in order to locate appropriate books and articles. 2c - Assess the quantity, quality, and relevance of database search results and refine the research strategy as necessary. Locate classes and activities allow students to practice using the best resources for finding books, articles, and more.
  7. 7. Human Databases Time: 5 minutes Learning Outcomes: 2a The EBSCO Classroom turns into a giant database and the students are the articles. Students learn about Boolean operators as they get “selected” by the database. Classes & Activities Database Nuts & Bolts Time: 20 minutes Learning Outcomes: 2a, 2b, 2c Students are introduced to searching for articles from magazines, newspapers, and academic journals in Academic Search Premiere. They learn to generate good search terms and refine a search. Taming the WorldCat Time: 20 minutes Learning Outcomes: 2a, 2b, 2c Students practice finding books, articles, and other materials using the WorldCat Local Catalog. They apply their knowledge by creating a WorldCat List. Newsies Appy Hour Time: 15 minutes Learning Outcomes: 2a, 2b, 2c Students use the World Newspapers iPad app to find newspaper articles. EasyBib Blowout Time: Full Class Period Learning Outcomes: 2b, 5a Student groups look up books in the catalog, find them in the stacks, and use the EasyBib iPad app to create a MLA bibliography.
  8. 8. EVALUATE STUDENTS ASK: Do I trust this information? Why? How does it fit with what I already know and believe? Evaluate classes and activities help students recognize how they already analyze the information they encounter on a daily basis. Students learn to translate these skills to academic resources. Potential Learning Outcomes 3a - Evaluate articles and websites for reliability, accuracy, authority, timeliness, and point of view. 3b - Distinguish between popular and scholarly sources.
  9. 9. Class Options Classes & Activities Popular vs. Scholarly Nuts & Bolts Time: 10 minutes Learning Outcome: 3b Students watch a short film featuring Cromwell the Carmichael Falcon to learn about popular and scholarly articles. We look at an example of each and identify their features. Wikilicious Time: Full Class Period Learning Outcome: 3a Student groups develop a list of criteria that they use to evaluate websites in everyday life. They apply these criteria to a website of their choice and a selected reference source. Each group posts their findings on a class Wiki page, which is used to guide class discussion. Flipboard Flip-Out Time: 25 minutes Learning Outcomes: 1b, 3a Students use the Flipboard iPad app to curate a collection of websites and blog posts about a topic. Googlemonster Showdown Time: Full Class Period Learning Outcome: 3a Student groups are each given a resource for research: Google, Wikipedia, Google Scholar, or the Virtual Reference Shelf. Each group has to come up with an argument about why their resource is the best place to do research. As groups present their arguments, we learn about the strengths and weaknesses of each resource. Is it CRAAP? Time: 30 minutes Learning Outcomes: 3a, 3b Students give the CRAAP test to a variety of sources (website, reference source, popular and/or scholarly article). They analyze each source for currency, relevance, accuracy, authority, and purpose. Class discussion emphasizes that while the CRAAP test is a handy tool, it’s possible that useful sources won’t always pass with flying colors.
  10. 10. ORGANIZE ORGANIZE STUDENTS ASK: How do I organize what I find during the research process? What could I do better next time? Each of the IL Standards is closely linked to the writing process--but this one is almost inextricable. These activities are designed to be highly integrated with a writing assignment. Potential Learning Outcomes 4a - Develop a research plan that includes time for finding background information, creating and revising a database search strategy, reading and evaluating articles, and finding additional information as necessary.
  11. 11. Ants on a Research Log Time: Full Class Period Learning Outcome: 4a Students search for books or articles and complete a research log for 4-5 sources. They record the database search strategy they used, the main argument of the article, and a couple of ways that the article interacts with their thesis or research question. This activity can be done on paper, or digitally through a blog or Canvas course page. Advanced Concept Mapping Time: Full Class Period Learning Outcome: 4a Students come to this session having already constructed a working thesis or research question, found and perused 2-3 articles, and thought through some of their argument. They build giant concept maps on the walls using painter’s tape and color-coded whiteboard sheets. This tactile activity allows them to organize their thoughts and make connections between their ideas and the secondary sources they plan to use. The session helps students recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their argument and engage meaningfully with their secondary sources. Classes & Activities Zoinks! Zotero! Time: Throughout the Semester Learning Outcome: 4a Students use Zotero to organize articles they collect for assignments throughout the semester. Zotero allows users to create folders of articles for different projects, assign tags to further categorize articles, share research with others, and generate citations. This ongoing assignment can take a number of shapes based on your assignments. Research Journal Journey Time: Throughout the Semester Learning Outcome: 4a Students record their research experiences throughout the semester in a research journal (a blog or a notebook). This ongoing assignment is highly adaptable to your class and assignments. Students can freewrite, respond to prompts, or do some combination of both.
  12. 12. QUESTION STUDENTS ASK: How does my work fit in with existing research on this topic? What does it mean to use others’ work to support my ideas? These classes and activities encourage students to see their research and writing as part of an ongoing scholarly conversation. Potential Learning Outcomes 5a - Identify some ethical, legal, and socio-economic issues related to information access. 5b - Recognize the need for citations to give credit to the original source and utilize MLA citation properly.
  13. 13. Human Citations Time: 10 minutes Learning Outcome: 5b Each student is given a “piece” of a citation and they have to arrange themselves in the right order. We discuss the parts of the citations and the reasons resources are cited differently. Classes & Activities The Amazing EasyBib Race Time: 20 minutes Learning Outcome: 2b, 5b Student groups are given 3-5 sources to find (some books in the stacks, some articles in the library databases). They use the EasyBib iPad app and database tools to generate citations and email them. The first group to construct a correct Works Cited wins a fabulous prize! Information Outlaws Time: Full Class Period Learning Outcome: 5a We read Alice Walker’s new poem about Wikileaks and students hear a lecture about “Information Outlaws” Aaron Swartz, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden. Class discussion centers on how these current events relate to the students’ positions as new college students, citizens, and creators of information.
  14. 14. Basic Assessment Starting in Fall 2013 we will be giving every English Composition class a short assessment specialized to the content of their class session. Students will complete a three minute, three question online form at the end of class. While this kind of summative assessment is problematic in many ways, it will help us get a big picture of information literacy instruction for our first-year students, make improvements to our library classes, and develop better assessments in the future. This data will be used in the library, but we can provide you with your students’ results if you would like. Assessment Mini-Projects Many of the sessions listed in this booklet require students to produce something during the library class. We can work together to make this into an assignment you can list on your syllabus as class work—or grade if you would like. “This current dominant culture of higher education privileges a model of student learning that can be substantiated in standardized tests and other measures that similarly erase difference and reward conformity to immutable, uninterrogated standards. These measures serve to perpetuate the existence of the dominant culture. Understandably, many critical teachers chafe at such standards.” -Maria Accardi Wiki and Canvas Assessment We can use your Canvas page or a class Wiki for students to post an article they find and answer questions about it. This short activity can help us assess how well students understand how to locate and evaluate particular types of articles. Research Journals or Canvas Research Discussion Board Research Journals help students think through their growth as critical thinkers and researchers. They can also help instructors and librarians better understand new college students’ research strategies and challenges. We can help your students set up blogs where they can keep a research journal, and we can and monitor journal entries so that students get research assistance when they need it. This kind of assessment could also be done on a smaller scale with a Research Discussion Board monitored by a librarian on your Canvas site. Works Cited Assessment After your students complete a research paper, a librarian can assess the quality of the sources on their works cited. This would not be a grade for your students, but rather a chance for you and the librarian to get a big picture of students’ success in finding sources.
  15. 15. Further Reading Peary, Alexandria, and Linda Ernick. “Reading, Writing, Research: Incorporating Strategies From Composition And Rhetoric Into Library Instruction.” College & Undergraduate Libraries 11.1 (2004): 33-44. Print. Jenks, Kelly, et al. “Advancing Critical Thinking and Information Literacy Skills in First Year College Students.” College & Undergraduate Libraries 15.1/2 (2008): 81-98. Print. Atwood, Thomas A., and Alice Crosetto. “How to Address ‘I’ve Already Written My Paper, Now I Just Need to Find Some Sources’: Teaching Personal Voice Through Library Instruction.” College & Undergraduate Libraries 16.4 (2009): 322-328. Print. Pankl, Elizabeth and Jason Coleman. “‘There’s Nothing on my Topic!’ Using the Theories of Oscar Wilde and Henry Giroux to Develop Critical Pedagogy for Library Instruction.” Critical Library Instruction: Theories and Methods. Eds. Maria Accardi, Emily Drabinski, and Alana Kumbier. Duluth, MN: Library Juice Press, 2010. 3-12. Print. Accardi, Maria. “Teaching Against the Grain: Critical Assessment in the Library Classroom.” Critical Library Instruction: Theories and Methods. Eds. Maria Accardi, Emily Drabinski, and Alana Kumbier. Duluth, MN: Library Juice Press, 2010. 251-264. Print. Elmborg James. “Critical Information Literacy: Definitions and Challenges.” Transforming Information Literacy Programs: Intersecting Frontiers of Self, Library Culture, and Campus Community. Eds. Carroll Wetzel Wilkinson and Courtney Burch. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2012. 75-96. Print.

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