Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lecturing & Participation

Today I observed an instruction session taught by one of my colleagues. She had fifty minutes to talk about how to do research and search the library catalog. While she said otherwise, I thought she looked and acted in a composed manner. She did not hurry through the material or raise her voice unnecessarily. She frequently asked the students if they had any questions and sincerely wanted to help them.

I liked her approach. She began by talking about her experience in doing research, particularly how she begins a project by gathering background information in dictionaries or encyclopedias. She brought reference materials for all to see, emphasizing the importance of gathering basic information. These resources can really be useful, because they generally include a list of bibliographic references that they can then go look up for more information. By looking in the reference materials, students can also find buzzwords they had not considered previously, and then they can use these keywords in their searches.

As she explained the importance of gathering background information in the early stages of research she drew an inverted triangle on the board. The broad part of the triangle represents the background-finding stage, and then students can start consulting books for more specific information. She did not write in the point of the triangle, but I speculate that students could consult articles for even more specific information. In the next class on Friday she will teach this same group about searching in the databases for articles. Of course, she might consider the student's thesis to be the point in the triangle, but I like the idea of articles as it most nearly matches the other options, that is reference materials and books.

Anyway, the instructional session went rather well if you ask me. In the future perhaps I could remember to go a little slower or talk a little quieter. My colleague mentioned how she was walking by the instruction room a few years ago, and she could hear the library instructor talking so high, fast, and so loud that she determined students could possibly be learning as well as they could otherwise.

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