Friday, April 6, 2007

More Ideas on the Presentation

I wrote those notes a two night ago, and since then I have talked with a few instructional librarians who teach college freshmen. They were preparing to teach, and somehow an appropriate moment popped up in which I asked if it were a good idea to show students how to truncate their search terms in a one-shot session for freshmen. One of the two immediately said this was not such a great idea, but that's her take on things. The sense I get is that these librarians, among others, have worked quite a bit with college students enough to know that college students do not know nearly as much as we think they do. On the one hand this seems pessimistic, but on the other hand they are more experienced.
I like to think that freshmen could benefit from being told or shown how to truncate terms in a database search. Recently, I did a search on college humor in the MLA International Bibliography, and I was wondering how a search with truncation might work. Perhaps if I were to use college life, college li*, college student*, college liv*, etc. they would return different results. Well, typing in college li* returns over 1300 results and none seem particularly relevant to college life. An advanced search yielded 71 hits that appeared much more relevant: college AND li* AND humor. The first result is "Knock, Knock. Who's Not There." College Humor. Anyway, I got carried away talking about searching.

This morning it seemed like it would be good to use a simple, yet effective active learning strategy. One of the things librarians try to help students with is thinking about search terms. Often students think of only one or two terms related to their topics that can help them find the articles or the books they need for a given assignment. Students may enjoy a short group assignment using posters and Post-it notes. Each group would receive one or two terms such as "college humor" and then they would need to write synonyms on the Post-it notes. Therefore, they could come up with other options such as: academic, comedy, comic, jokes, funny, school, university, classroom, dorm, practical jokes, etc. Then they could test out some of these terms in the database and report back to the class. This sounds like fun and might differentiate my presentation from others' presentations in a positive way if it were carried out properly.

What other active learning strategies might be good in a library instructional session?

No comments: