Blurring boundaries to spark motivation: collaborative approaches to teaching research skills


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Presentation at STLHE conference, 2012.

In this interactive workshop, first, a view of undergraduate students’ information behaviour will be offered, as informed by a librarian’s perspective. The connections between the research process and intrinsic motivation will be discussed, with the aim of exploring best practices for sparking research motivation. In other words: how can students get interested in research, and how does motivation affect their success? Next, key solutions will be discussed, vis-à-vis holistic collaborations between professors and librarians in teaching information skills and designing assignments that motivate students to engage in research tasks.

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Blurring boundaries to spark motivation: collaborative approaches to teaching research skills

  1. 1. Blurring boundaries to spark motivation: collaborative approaches to teaching research skillsMegan FitzgibbonsLiaison LibrarianMcGill UniversityJune 21, 2012
  2. 2. Our world is awash ininformation 2
  3. 3. 3
  4. 4. Solution? Information skills 4
  5. 5. Information behaviourStudent motivationDesigning assignmentsSharing!
  6. 6. Librarians:What is our role? 6
  7. 7. 7
  8. 8. Consultations and guidance 8
  9. 9. Researchers:Technology, learning, behaviour 9
  10. 10. Imagine you’re a 2nd year undergrad student……who has to write a paper about any topic inAmerican politics.Take 5 minutes and draw the process.What does the process look like?What are your actions and decision-making points? 10
  11. 11. Information seeking behaviourData from:Ishimura, Yusuke.“Integrating information behaviour andinformation literacy during academic tasks: Acomparative study of Japanese and Canadianundergraduate students in a Canadian university.”Doctoral research in progress at McGill University. 11
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  17. 17. Assignment topics · Previously studied content · Seeking originality · Professor’s viewpoints · Data availability Decide topic Discussion with a doctoral student · Thinking about data combination Data search/collection Keywords: Carbon, emission, vehicle, public transportation, hybrid car, Google Scholar transition, long-term, global warming, ガソリン価格, プリウス etc Reading Iterative process Outline Making outline Data analysis Making hypothesissubmission 17
  18. 18. Iterative process Outline Making outline Data analysis Making hypothesissubmission Advice from a classmate Finding backup information Keywords: Google Scholar Public transportation, vehicle, carbon, carbon emission Reading Writing Submission 18
  19. 19. Complex journey: many decision-making points 19
  20. 20. “Ethnographic” studies of info behaviour• Project Information Literacy• Studying Students (University of Rochester)• Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries (ERIAL) Project 20
  21. 21. 21
  22. 22. What are the hurdles? 22
  23. 23. Different mental models 23
  24. 24. In comparison with experts, students lack:• Subject knowledge• Technical abilities in retrieving information• Understanding of how information is organized• Experience with the research process… … can be emotional! 24
  25. 25. Motivation 25
  26. 26. What motivates students?• Tasks that seem doable• Empowerment• Topics and tasks that are “relevant” 26
  27. 27. Information literacy skills 27
  28. 28. Definition of information literacy (IL) Information literate people are defined as those who “know how to find, evaluate, and use information effectively to solve a particular problem or make a decision.” (American Library Association)Source: American Library Association (1989). Presidential committee on information literacy: Final report. 28Retrieved from
  29. 29. Competency Standards for Higher Education• Created by the Association of College & Research Libraries• Consist of criteria defining Standard #1 information literacy skills Know• Have been adapted for Standard #5 Standard #2 Ethics Access subject-specific contexts Standard #4 Standard #3 Use Evaluate 29
  30. 30. Hierarchy of ACRL Competency Standards ACRL IL Standards Standard #1 Standard #2 ...... Performance Performance Performance Performance indicator indicator indicator indicator Outcome Outcome Outcome Outcome Outcome Outcome Outcome Outcome 30
  31. 31. IL Standard #1Standard #1:The information literate student determines the nature and extentof the information neededPerformance Indicators:• The information literate student defines and articulates the need for information• The information literate student identifies a variety of types & formats of potential sources for information• The information literate student considers the costs & benefits of acquiring the needed information• The information literate student reevaluates the nature & extent of the information need 31
  32. 32. IL Standard #1Standard #1:The information literate student determines the nature and extentof the information neededOutcomes:• Develops a thesis statement and formulates questions based on the information need• Defines or modifies the information need to achieve a manageable focus• Identifies the value & differences of potential resources in a variety of formats (e.g., multimedia, database, website, data, book)• Identifies the purpose & audience of potential resources (e.g., popular vs. scholarly, current vs. historical)• Defines a realistic overall plan and timeline to acquire the needed 32 information
  33. 33. Why standards? Ideal state of IL skills Actual state of IL skills 33
  34. 34. Students seeinformation seekingand use as anintegrated process 34
  35. 35. Our efforts for scaffolding research skillsshould be holistic 35
  36. 36. Solution:assignment design 36
  37. 37. Sample assignment to critiqueOne 10-15 page term paper, which should explore in depth some issuescentral to the course. Paper topics will not be assigned, but it is important thatyou choose a paper topic appropriate for the course and your interests.Students are expected to do original work and demonstrate the ability toresearch, understand, and write about American politics.Style: The paper should clearly address a research question and must includeproper citations. A proper bibliography must be attached. Provide thebackground information that is pertinent to understand your arguments, butnot other information.Academic integrity: McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore, allstudents must understand the meaning and consequences of cheating,plagiarism, and other academic offenses under the code of student conduct anddisciplinary procedures (see for moreinformation)Assistance: Students can get advice on how to proceed on the assignmentduring the instructor’s office hours. A presentation on how to use libraryresources will be held on January 8.Deadline: April 12 37
  38. 38. (Re-)design an assignment1. What hurdles might students face with this assignment?2. How might the assignment be broken down or redesigned to improve student motivation in the face of these hurdles?3. Which specific information literacy skills can be promoted with the assignment? 38
  39. 39. Collaboration examples Collaboration examples 39
  40. 40. 1. Scaffolding assignments• Annotated, evaluative bibliographies• Research logs• Wikipedia assignments• Comparative evaluations of sources• Iterative search assignments• Role play• Plagiarism case studies 40
  41. 41. 2. Co-teaching• More than one “library lecture”!• Shared assignment design• Both contribute to assessment• “Embedded” librarian 41
  42. 42. General principles• Inquiry-based• Multiple opportunities to practice skills• Explicit instructions• Use web-based resource guides• Limit point-and-click presentations 42
  43. 43. Collaboration examples 43
  44. 44. Assessment examples Assessing information skills 44
  45. 45. Rubrics for assessing skillsSource: Oakleaf, M. (2009). The information literacy instruction assessment cycle: A guide for increasing student learning and improving librarian instructional skills. 45 Journal of Documentation, 65(4), 539-560.
  46. 46. 46
  47. 47. Sharing 47
  48. 48. Take-away• Novice researchers + hurdles = low motivation• Librarians = info experts• Collaborative assignment design = good! 48
  49. 49. Photo credits• Slide 2: Binary flow By adrenalin License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic• Slide 3: Stick figure in peril By IndiepoprockJesse indiepoprockjesse/266239576/in/photostream Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)• Slide 7: An unhealthy relationship 516902570/ by baking_in_pearls Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic• Slide 20: Map by dunechaser License: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic• Slide 23: Hurdle by By n.kuzma in/photostream/ License: Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic• Slide 35: “SPNP #52” by By J_P_D License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic• Slide 47: Sharing the Popsicle by The Facey Family 44124461706@N01/2384239540. License: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic• Slide 48: Riced out by dslrninja. License: Attribution 2.0 Generic 49
  50. 50. References and further resourcesUnderstanding students’ information behaviour• Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries (ERIAL) Project:• Foster, N. F., & Gibbons, S. L. (2007). Studying students: The undergraduate research project at the University of Rochester. Association of College & Research Libraries. ItemId=7044• Holman, L. (2011). Millennial students’ mental models of search: Implications for academic librarians and database developers. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 37(1), 19–27. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2010.10.003• Ishimura, Y. Integrating information behaviour and information literacy during academic tasks: A comparative study of Japanese and Canadian undergraduate students in a Canadian university. Doctoral dissertation in progress at McGill University.• Kuhlthau, C. (1993). Seeking meaning: A process approach to library and information services. Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1993. 50
  51. 51. References and further resourcesUnderstanding students’ information behaviour (con’t)• Leckie, G. J. (1996). Desperately seeking citations: Uncovering faculty assumptions about the undergraduate research process. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 22(3), 201–208. doi:10.1016/S0099-1333(96)90059-2• Lee, H.-L. (2008). Information structures and undergraduate students. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 34(3), 211–219. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2008.03.004• Pencek, B., Nelson, S., & Brians, C. L. (2009). What students tell us about doing research: Information literacy assessment as pedagogy. SSRN eLibrary. Retrieved from• Pennanen, M., & Vakkari, P. (2003). Students’ conceptual structure, search process, and outcome while preparing a research proposal: a longitudinal case study. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 54(8), 759–770.• Project Information Literacy: 51
  52. 52. References and further resourcesMotivation and information skills• Head, A.J. & Eisenberg, M.B. (2010). Assigning inquiry: How handouts for research assignments guide todays college students. Project Information Literacy Progress Report:• Kyndt, E., Dochy, F., Struyven, K., & Cascallar, E. (2011). The direct and indirect effect of motivation for learning on students’ approaches to learning through the perceptions of workload and task complexity. Higher Education Research & Development, 30(2), 135–150. doi:10.1080/07294360.2010.501329• Shenton, A. K., & Fitzgibbons, M. (2010). Making information literacy relevant. Library Review, 59(3), 165–174.• Small, R. V. (2006). Designing motivation into library and information skills instruction. Retrieved from volume11998slmqo/small• Weimer, M. (n.d.). Shining a light on your assignments. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from your-assignments/ 52
  53. 53. References and further resourcesInstructor-librarian collaboration• Ford, M., & Williams, C. (2002). Research and writing in sociology. Public Services Quarterly, 1(3), 37–49. doi:10.1300/J295v01n03_05• Germain, C. A., & Bernnard, D. (2004). Empowering students II: Teaching information literacy concepts with hands-on and minds-on activities. Pittsburgh, PA: Library Instruction Publications.• Harrington, J. (2011). Alternatives to the term paper: Creative assignments that develop information literacy skills. Teaching Innovation Projects, 1(1). Retrieved from• Jacobson, T., & Mackey, T. P. (2007). Information literacy collaborations that work. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.• Scheepers, M. D., De Boer, A. L., Bothma, T. J. ., & Du Toit, P. H. (2011). A mental model for successful inter-disciplinary collaboration in curriculum innovation for information literacy. Retrieved from Scheepers_Mental(2011).pdf?sequence=1• Stein, L. L., & Lamb, J. M. (1998). Not just another BI: Faculty-librarian collaboration to guide students through the research process. Research Strategies, 16(1), 29–39. doi:10.1016/S0734-3310(98)90004-0 53
  54. 54. References and further resourcesLibrary guides for assignment design• Alternatives to the Research Paper, University of Texas at Austin Libraries:• Assignment Ideas that Develop Information Literacy Skills, University of Arizona Libraries: ideas-that-develop-information-literacy-skills• Designing Research Assignments, Leddy Library, University of Windsor:!OpenF orm• Education/Assignment Design, Wikimedia Outreach:• Guidelines for Creating Effective Library Assignments, California State University San Marcos:• Ideas for Library/Information Assignments, Memorial University Libraries:• Tips for Creating Good Research Assignments, University of Louisville: assignments.html 54
  55. 55. References and further resourcesAssessment• Coco, P., & McClure, H. (2011). Research guidance rubric for assignment design. Retrieved from design-175.htm• Information Literacy Rubrics. Lorain County Community College: http://www.• Oakleaf, M. (2009). The information literacy instruction assessment cycle: A guide for increasing student learning and improving librarian instructional skills. Journal of Documentation, 65(4), 539-560.• Rubric Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (RAILS) Project: Literacy Standards• Association of College and Research Libraries. (2000). Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. ACRL. standards/informationliteracycompetency• Information literacy in the disciplines (ACRL): 55
  56. 56. Merci!Thank you!Megan Fitzgibbonsmegan.fitzgibbons@mcgill.caJune 21, 2012