Friday, December 23, 2011

College Students and Information-Literacy Realities

Some of the YouTube videos on information literacy topics are quite fascinating.  Every once in a while I re-discover them again.  Project Information Literacy at the University of Washington still has some great videos up.  These are create by the Information School Here are a few that I enjoy watching
  1. "PIL InfoLit Dialog, No. 1: Wikipedia"
  2. "PIL InfoLit Dialog, No. 2: Procrastination"
  3. "PIL InfoLit Dialog, No. 3: Frustration"
  4. "PIL InfoLit Dialog, No. 4: Strategies"
  5. "PIL InfoLit Dialog, No. 5: Context"
These videos may be good ways to start a class discussion about information literacy or the topic of the day.  They might also be good for starting discussions with library instructors, campus faculty, administrators, etc. 

Have you seen these videos?  How have they been useful?  What do you think of them?

"Information Literacy Toolkit."  by heyjudegallery

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Phrasing Reference Questions

Do you ever wonder how to ask a question or phrase it so that you will be understood?  Growing up it terrified me to talk to people on the phone.  I did not know how to say what I needed to say.  Actually, if I pause a moment, it seems that my terror or "deer in the headlights" experiences were mostly involving talking with an adult or asking an adult for something. 

Moments like these were tough, and my mom came to my rescue, prompting me with just the words I would need to supply while holding that rotary phone to my ear.  (I'm not sure when we switched to a cordless phone, but I look back on the rotary phone with fondness and nostalgia.  My dad still has one out in his shop.)

Anyway, Mary W. George serves or functions as the mom/mentor for college students who need to approach the reference desk.  It can be intimidating to approach strangers behind an imposing desk.  Knowing how to phrase some questions or which words to supply in order to obtain the desired result can be quite useful.  In her book The Elements of Library Research: What Every Student Needs to Know, she dedicates two or three pages to this endeavor.

One column contains the title "What You'd Like to Know (and can't figure out on your own)," and the second column reads "Example of How to Ask a Reference Librarian about It (Be ready to explain what you have already tried.)"  Let me provide just a few questions:

-Background information on your general topic
  • Can you recommend a subject encyclopedia that deals with [your topic]?
-Where to identify articles on your topic
  • What database would you suggest for popular and scholarly articles about [your topic]?  Does it include newspaper articles, or is there a different database for those?
-What other sources the library may have related to your topic
  • I have already explored the online catalog and [name of article databases(s)].  What other approaches would you suggest for sources on [my topic]?  Are there relevant materials in special collections or in nonprint formats that the library owns? (118-20)
ISU Library Reference Desk
Granted, a good reference librarian ought to be able to ask follow-up questions if a patron does not phrase a question just right (in library speak should we say?), but trying out some of the suggestions George offers might really yield some great results. 

Idaho Health Sciences Library: Reference Desk

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Not Always Just One Way to Cite a Source

Across the country, college students are studying like mad in preparation for their final exams and projects.  Libraries become deathly quiet as students concentrate more intensely than ever.  Well, occasional study groups raise the noise level a bit.  Fortunately, many libraries and student unions have study rooms that can be reserved for one or more hours.  Students are also writing their last papers of the semester, and more time may be spent on that works cited or references list than at any other time of the semester.

"Final Exams."  See Mr. Longoria's Earth Science.

As I was creating my last rubric for the ACAD 1199: Information Research course, I needed to find out how an annotated bibliography is formatted in MLA format.  The index in the book directed me to 5.3.1 or page 129 in the 7th edition, so I started reading this section titled "The List of Works Cited: Introduction."  A lengthy paragraph ensues.  A litle more than half way through the paragraph this observation is made:
While it is tempting to think that every source has only one complete and correct format for its entry in a list of works cited, in truth there are often several options for recording key features of a work. For this reason, software programs that generate entries are not likely to be useful. You may need to improvise when the type of scholarly project or the publication medium of a source is not anticipated by this handbook. Be consistent in your formatting throughout your work. Choose that format that is appropriate to your research paper and that will satisfy your reader's needs. 129 (Emphasis added.)
§MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed.  New York: Modern Language Association, 2009. Print.  See pages 129-30.
Does this shatter your confidence in citation styles?  It seems like a valid disclaimer and a recognition that there are many things out there that can be cited--too many to keep track of in a handy manual.

Purdue's OWL includes a similar note regarding the APA style:
Please note: While the APA manual provides many examples of how to cite common types of sources, it does not provide rules on how to cite all types of sources. Therefore, if you have a source that APA does not include, APA suggests that you find the example that is most similar to your source and use that format. For more information, see page 193 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, sixth edition.
Oh, in case you were wondering, an annotated bibliography in the MLA style should have one of the two titles listed below:
Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderlund, L., & Brizee, A. (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Annotated Bibliography of Works Cited
See page 130 in the 7th edition, or 5.3.1.  They provide a concise definition as well: "An annotated bibliography, also called Annotated Bibliography of Works Cited, contains descriptive or evaluative comments on the sources.  (For more information on such listings, see James L. Harner, On Compiling an Annotated Bibliography [2nd Ed.; New York: MLA, 2000; print])" (130).

"Final Exam."  See Writings of a Boy Discerning God's Call.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Library Outreach and Library Tours

Two months ago a student reporter named Layna Nelson requested a tour of the Eli M. Oboler Library.  She writes for the campus newspaper the BengalI enjoy giving tours, but it seems that I could do better.  It seems that finding interesting statistics about the number of books, number of individuals accessing our databases, number of patrons entering the building, etc. might generate more interest.  Also, people like stories and attention-grabbing quotes, so digging up some useful things like that ought to liven things up on a tour.  Admittedly, the tours I give are maybe a bit dry, but they are laden with information.  What can I say?  I love the library.

Eli M. Oboler LibraryIdaho State University.
850 S. 9th Avenue
Pocatello, Idaho, USA 83209-8089
Today I finally learned that her article was published with the title "What's Inside: Oboler Library."  She wrote a great article.  She must have done a bit more digging to find the information at the beginning of the article, though it might not all be up-to-date.  As the Coordinator of Instruction, I feel responsible for outreach in the Library, so I am willing to offer tours of the Library, work with area schools, and try to get the word out regarding events we hold in the Library. 

Idaho State University Library.  Pocatello, ID
What kind of outreach are you involved with in your library?

To view more photos of Pocatello, including a few more of the Oboler Library, take a look at Vitit Kantabutra's site.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Information Literacy Class Progresses

The one-credit course I am teaching this semester is an information-literacy course.  Its official name is ACAD 1199: Information Research.  We have now finished week 5.  I have a Google Sites page that offers a bit more information about this class.  That page has a number of links to my syllabus, outlines, worksheets, and more.  Take a look at it, and let me know what you think.

Are you teaching or taking such a course?  What do you do when you teach it?

I also have a couple of presentations posted there.  One that I enjoyed making talks about the differences between catalogs and indexes (Catalog vs. Index).  For more information on this topic see my blog post "Catalog vs. Index."  It continues to be one of the most viewed blog posts that I have written.

Today we talked about Ulrich's Periodicals Directory, which is a useful source for discovering if a journal is peer-reviewed or not.  It may be better to say that it will tell you if articles in a journal are refereed or peer reviewed; these two terms are synonymous.  We also talked about how to find the full text of an article, using the resources at Idaho State University

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Putting LC Call Numbers in Order: The Game

Need a break?  Try something relaxing, like playing a quick game of placing library books in proper order according to their Library of Congress Classification System call numbers.  Look at this webpage on Understanding Call Numbers if you need a refresher. 

Do you ever teach others how to use call numbers?  Does it go something like this?

First, remember to place them in order alphabetically.  When a call number begins with one letter, it comes before another that has two letters: N before NA, for example.  Then, look at the numbers.  Count up from the number  one: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 45, 100, 101, 789, 1001, etc.  Third, notice the decimal .5 comes before .52, which also precedes .6, since it is a decimal.
  • N100.C45 comes before NA99.A33
  • N100.C45 comes before N100.5A32
  • N100.C45 comes before N100.C5
Now play the call number game if you have not done so already.  Thankfully the Lewis-Clark State College Library has made this game available after it disappeared from elsewhere.  Michael Ford, formerly at the University of Pittsburgh, created the game originally.  Once he moved on, his game became unavailable on the U. of Pittsburgh's website.

Browse the Library of Congress Classification Outline.  Drill down the outline to see how the narrower topics shoot off from the broader ones.

An Aside
In looking for the links to the Library of Congress, I discovered a very brief message from Clint Eastwood, America's tough guy.  He encourages the viewer, you and me, to make our day by reading a book: Clint Eastwood video.  We are talking about finding books in the catalog and on the shelves today in the ACAD 1199 class I am teaching.  This video seems like an appropriate one to start the class. 

It seems like a good idea to teach about keyword Boolean searching, subject heading searching, and understanding call numbers.  Ideally, students will leave the class more confident searching the catalog and finding books on the shelves.

If you teach library instruction classes, what have you done to instruct students in searching your library's catalog?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Finding Primary Sources for U.S. History Papers

Where can you go if you need primary sources for a research paper in your history class?  As a reference librarians, sometimes it is challenging to help students looking for primary sources.  Wikipedia defines a primary source like this:
 Primary source is a term used in a number of disciplines to describe source material that is closest to the person, information, period, or idea being studied.
The University of Maryland Libraries also explains the differences between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources in more detail, offering useful examples.  Essentially an item or document created by a single person at the time of the event can also be considered a primary source, so primary sources could be any of the following:
  • Letters between individuals
  • Diaries or personal journals
  • Speeches written and given at an event
  • Newspaper articles written at the time of the event
  • Original studies published in peer-reviewed journals
  • Books reviews of titles that are recently published (Some people may argue that any book review is a primary source as it recounts the recent event of someone's experience or reaction to reading a book, whether it is a new book or not.)
 Milestone Documents of American Leaders: Exploring the Primary Sources of Notable Americans. Ed. Paul Finkelman.  Dallas, TX: Schlager Group, 2009.

This four-volume title contains many primary documents of well-known Americans, beginning with colonial figures like Abigail Adams and George Washington while also including more recent figures like Sandra Day O'Conner and George W. Bush.  Yes, this could be one of the best places for finding primary sources.

The first entry in volume #4 features Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (1908-1972), who was a U.S. Congressman in the 1940s through the 1960s.  His entry commences with these life details, plus mention of the three primary sources associated with him:
  • Speech on Civil Rights (1955)
  • "Black Power: A Form of Godly Power" (1967)
  • "Black Power and the Future of Black America" (1971)
Each entry holds to the same structure: overview, explanation and analysis of documents, impact and legacy, key sources, further readings, essential quotes, questions for further study, and, last of all, the primary documents themselves.  The overview about Representative Powell's life provides specific details about his life that are relevant to the documents in question.  In the pages that explain and analyze the documents there appears a timeline of his life, noting significant events mostly related to his political life.  A glossary explains words, contextual references, and may give an entire person's name when a partial one is given in the text.

Each of the entries include a large, full-page photo on the page before the article begins.  Use the subject index at the end of the fourth volume if you need to find where certain persons or ideas are mentioned within the four-volume set.  Placed before the index is a list of documents by category:
  • Correspondence and Diaries
  • Essays, Reports, and Manifestos
  • Interviews
  • Legal
  • Legislative
  • Military
  • Presidential/Executive
  • Speeches/Addresses (looks like the lengthiest section)
Each volume contains a "Contents" section at the beginning for the whole set, listing all the individuals in alphabetical order.

All in all, this appears to be a great resource for anyone looking to find primary sources of American leaders.  Take a look in your library's catalog to see if they have this reference set.  If your library does have this title, they may also have the E-book version that you could access online.  Look for a link to access the E-book.

Following is one of the "Essential Quotes" from Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.:
Tremendous changes are taking place in our country eradicating the concept of second-class citizenship.  Yet the United States Congress has done absolutely nothing in this sphere.  We are behind the times.  We are a legislative anachronism.  In an age of atomic energy, our dynamic is no more powerful than a watermill.  (Speech on Civil Rights, 1955, p.1740)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Choosing a Topic for a College Research Paper

Three weeks ago I began teaching an information-literacy course.  This one-credit course runs for eight weeks and is called ACAD 1199: Information Research.  In week two we talked about choosing a topic, brainstorming, and narrowing down a topic to a manageable size for a 5-6 page college paper. 

For one of these classes, I created a PowerPoint presentation, outlining some of my ideas and those of Mary W. George, as written in her book The Elements of Library Research: What Every Student Needs to Know.  Quite simply, this presentation is titled "Choosing a Topic."  Take a look at it, and let me know what yo think.  Still, sometimes it is a challenge to know how to help students narrow down a topic to one that interests them but still avoids trying to do too much.

What do you tell students when they need to narrow a topic?

If you are a student currently, what research projects have carried off successfully?  What made it work so well?

"Narrow City."  by Nick Peligno.
This photo seemed appropriate with the topic of narrowing down a topic as it appears that this street gradually gets narrower.  I like the colors, shapes, and lines.  Seems like a fun photo.  Thank you for sharing this, Nick Peligno.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Choosing a Peer-Reviewed Journal in Which to Publish

As an assistant professor I need to publish in order to qualify for tenure.  Recently I resurrected a graduate student paper I had written for a History of Reading class I once took at the University of Iowa's School of Library and Information Science (SLIS).  Essentially, the paper uses Louis H. Sullivan's Autobiography of an Idea as a primary source, citing references to his personal readings that contributed to his aesthetic and artistic philosophy. 

After revising this paper a bit, I had intended to submit this article to a certain regional, peer-reviewed journal.  My supervisor advised me to publish in a national journal instead.  "What's the worst that can happen?  They say 'no.'"  This makes sense, so now I am starting to think of national journals in which I can submit my manuscript. 

First, I thought to ask my former professor (the one who taught the History of Reading class).  She has responded, saying that she remembers my paper even from the first time I had written it.  Due to her busy schedule she may not be able to look at if for two to three weeks, but this would still be great to get some feedback from her.

Second, I thought to look at Writer's Market, thinking that it would give some suggestions on where I might be able to publish.  Unfortunately, this is not the right tool.  If a writer want to make money writing, then this is the correct tool, because it focuses how much specific magazines pay for accepted submissions.  A writer can also identify the various markets available for publishing: Animal, Aviation, Business, Health and Fitness, Humor, Juvenile, Photography, Sports, and many more.  The book includes sections on promoting your work, managing your work, and finding work with short essays on "Feature Article Writing," "Contract Negotiation," and "The Art of Promoting," just to name a few.

As a blogger, the essay titled "Blogging Basics: Get the Most Out of Your Blog" naturally caught my eye (I believe he is the main editor for Writer's Market as well).  Robert Lee Brewer gives some great tips.  It was gratifying to see that I had actually followed one recommendation without even knowing it: "Use your name in your URL."  (Searching his name in a search engine will bring up his two main blogs.  He writes the blog titled My Name is Not Bob, while it does not have his real name in the blog title, it is the URL.)  He says: "This will make it easier for search engines to find you when your audience eventually starts seeking you out by name."  While I have not put my name in the title of my blog, I did update the description by adding my name and trying to be a bit more welcoming.  I used to say the readers should remember to keep copyright laws and maintain civility, that I have the right to delete comments.  While I still support these ideas, they did not seem very inviting or welcoming.

Anyway, I digress.  My supervisor recommended using Ulrichs Periodical Directory, aka Ulrichs Web.  In reality I looked up Ulrichs Web before looking at Writer's Market, but it did not seem to be as promising.  The results list were quite lengthy.  True, it tells you the names of many periodicals and if they are peer reviewed or not.  It even gives a basic description of the title, what kinds of articles they publish and for which audience.  I believe I searched with the terms "history" and "reading."  Perhaps I should go back and try a few different searches to see what I get.

A fourth option: open some scholarly databases and search using keywords related to my topic to see in which journals they are found.  Looks like I have some work to do.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Scholarships for Undergraduate Students

Earning and maintaining scholarships can be a full-time job.  Students should treat their college studies as a full-time job.  The benefits can be huge.

Today I attended an open forum on scholarships.  The presenter talked about finding them, applying for them, and offering thanks for them.  The ISU Scholarship Office put on this forum.  They suggested that students talk with parents and grandparents to see if their workplace offers scholarships to their children.  Additionally, students can ask their departments of scholarships of which they may know of already. 

Many scholarships can be found on the internet.  Again, the Scholarship Office updates a list of outside scholarships, or rather websites that focus on searching and finding all kinds of scholarships available to anyone and everyone.  If you are a college student, consider a visit to your college's scholarship office and dedicating an hour a week to researching and writing scholarship applications.

In the library, you might look for The College Blue Book (LA226 .C685) to see what it can tell you about scholarships, grants, and fellowships.  This titles gets updated yearly and usually resides in a reference collection.  For this book there were two subject headings that looked relevant to this topic:
Other titles worth considering:
  • The College Board scholarship handbook.
  • College student’s guide to merit and other no-need funding
  • Scholarships, fellowships, grants and loans.
The library provides books that can help you write a good application as well.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Embedded Librarians in Course Management Systems (CMS)

Bernd W. Becker's article "Embedded Librarianship: A Point-of-Need Service" defines "embedded librarian" in the following terms:
Embedded librarian describes any librarian that takes an active role inside the online CMS classroom (237).
CMS stands for "course management system," which I have also heard as LMS or "learning management system."  These two acronyms describe the same thing, as far as I can tell.   Becker states: "The CMS provides a structure in which a librarian can become a part of the course" (237).  Using Moodle or Blackboard has become a more common method for reaching out to students for librarians.  Becker lists five reasons why the embedded librarian has been a bit more successful.  He argues that "this approach is addressing many of the learning style characteristics of the current generation of students," including the fact (Reason #1) that
  1. "students start their research by looking on the Internet"
  2. "library resources are typically remotely accessed"
  3. "students expect library resources on the Web to be ranked"
  4. "students are more likely to use a database if it is made familiar to them, and"
  5. "students and faculty are interested in a point of need, practical approach to library research" (238).
I am working to embed myself in a few English composition classes this semester.  With the instructor's permission, I have added a research forum where students can ask me questions to get help with their research.  In the past, this has not inundated nor swamped me with requests, but typically there are one or two students who contact me for assistance, which has been very manageable.

In some sections I have proactively worked with students, offering suggestions on what they might do with their topic and which resources might prove useful.  In this instance, the instructor asked students to post a paragraph with complete sentences that described what they might be interested in writing about.  Knowing their topics, allowed me to conduct some preliminary searches in the catalog and sometimes in the databases.  Suggesting sources or potentially useful keywords for searches can be well received by the students.

Below is the full citation of the article:
Becker, Bernd W.  "Embedded Librarianship: A Point-of-Need Service."  Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian 29.3 (12 August 2010): 237-40.

"Sokollu Mehmet Pa┼ča Camii" by Bradamant on

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaching with Technology

Using technology to teach students has become a reality of life, and in library land it seems that using technology and social networking sites continues to be trendy.  In an article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Julie Meloni offers instructors at the college level some potentially useful forms of technology that might be helpful.  She warns readers to be careful, though, because the newest technology should not be adopted just to jump on a bandwagon: "Whatever the level of technology, and regardless of our comfort level with it, remember that for all that educational technology can offer us through new communication methods and the ability to reach a wider range of students, it is no panacea.  An instructor must still deliver relevant material, enable students to achieve the goals of the course, and assess their work."

After the disclaimer, she expresses the idea that communication often figures as one of the main problems in a course.  Technology can can bridge the communication gap between students and instructors.  Four technologies can be useful in this regard:
  1. Discussion boards
  2. Blogs
  3. Social-networking sites
  4. E-mail and e-mail lists
As communication tools, they work.  A few years ago, I did see an information-literacy course that incorporated blogs into the assignments, and the students seemed to take off thrive in this medium as a way to write about their searching experiences for sources.  They discussed the sources they found and why they would or would not use the sources.  It seemed like a great idea.  Meloni declares that "individual blogs are my favorite," saying that she will recapitulate class discussions and highlight main points on her blog, and students will ask follow-up questions there. 

Many within academia may tout the usefulness of learning management software programs like Blackboard and Moodle, but Meloni argues that "individual instructors often find these platforms too cumbersome."  The free, cloud-based technologies seem to function better.

Meloni also talked a little about the usefulness of Zotero and Mendeley, as well as the importance of collaboration with students, experts on campus, and instructors at other institutions.  Making course materials freely available online certainly opens up the gates for collaboration with individuals at other institutions.  Sharing a syllabus, for example, elicited invitation sent to her to collaborate on conference panels and even publications.

It is a good article.  Take a look at it:

Meloni, Julie.  "Technologies for Teaching: Strategies and Pitfalls."  Chronicle of Higher Education 57.11 (2010): B22-B24.  Academic Search Complete.  EBSCO.  Web. 27 Sept. 2011.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Computer Policies and Library Internet Policies

When a patron recently asked if they could transfer MP3 files from our computer to their MP3 player, I had to take a look at our Computer and Internet Use Policy.  It appears that this is okay to do.  Library computers are reserved mainly for research purposes, and anyone can be asked to leave the computers if he/she is doing something not in compliance with the policy.  We do not allow individuals to download software to the computers, but apparently they do not need to download any software to transfer music files burned to the Media Player Library to their MP3 player. 

As someone who has been satisfied with older technologies (What can I say?  I love to read books and watch movies.) I have never learned how to transfer music files from a CD to an MP3 player or an iPod.  With the Media Player all that needs to be done is to highlight the music files in the library's album and drag them to the Sync window/tab.  End result was that the patron left satisfied; she was able to do what needed to be done.

However, let me say that after reviewing the computer and internet use policy, it pleased me that the policy encourages information literacy skills.  This information-literacy plug appears in the disclaimer toward the top of the policy:
With the exception of certain commercial information products, such as indexes and full-text databases, the Library neither selects nor controls the contents of Internet sites. The Library disclaims responsibility for such content that may be inaccurate, incomplete, out-of-date, controversial, or offensive to some. Users are urged to question the validity of information which they retrieve from the Internet and carefully evaluate its value and appropriateness for their purposes. They should also be aware that most Internet materials are copyrighted and existing copyright laws govern their use.
Overall, it seems that this is a great computer and internet use policy.  One of the things I like the most is that it is not lengthy, requiring little time to read and understand it, unlike I thought it would be. 

Does your library's internet use policy encourage information-literacy competency skills?

"Sansa Fuze MP3-Player."
Photo by Oliver Karthaus.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cloud Carnival

cloud carnival
cloud carnival,
originally uploaded by Slippery Joaquin.
While working on a presentation, I came upon this photo. I am working on a presentation that discusses team teaching with colleagues and in the cloud, i.e. with free computer software, such as Google Apps, Moodle, and so forth.

Slippery Joaquin sure took a beautiful photo here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Active Learning Activities for Teaching Academic Integrity

Today, someone on the information literacy and instruction listserv asked about some fresh ways to teach or emphasize academic integrity.  Yes, this is a plagiarism discussion.  How can you engage students?  Many instructors dread this topic; typically, it does not generate a lot of excitement in the classroom.  Sometimes students feel accused from the outset in a discussion like this.  Below is a response I shared with the person who asked me:

Admittedly, this might not be innovative or fresh, but I have attached a PowerPoint presentation we show to students.  Each slide asks a question, so when one appears on the slide students are invited to write down their own answer.  Then they are asked to share that answer with a neighbor before talking with the whole class as a group.  This makes it so that the students participate a bit more than when the instructor shows the slide and asks for volunteers to answer.  Freshmen generally speaking do not pipe up to answer, but this may be different in the upper-division courses.

Here's an Academic Integrity Tutorial you may consider using.  If you found some stories or examples of plagiarism, then perhaps you could split the class into groups with some general questions:
  1. How does this story relate to academic integrity issues?
  2. What can we learn from this?
  3. What could they have done differently?
  4. What did they do correctly?
  5. Are there any "gray" areas within the story?  How would your group reconcile these "gray" areas?
  6. What impact does plagiarism or academic dishonesty have on society?  Does your example or story illustrate your point?  How?
After a specified amount of time (maybe 10 minutes), groups could be brought back to tell the rest of the class what was discussed.  Dividing the labor sometimes increases the participation of the group members, so having a spokesperson, a scribe to take notes for the spokesperson, a time keeper to make sure the group stays on task in the allotted time frame, and maybe even a naysayer to play the devil's advocate and/or an agreer to emphasize the best points presented.

In my bookmark account, there are 60 websites tagged with the word plagiarism.  There ought to be a good number of anecdotes, news articles, and websites devoted to plagiarism or academic integrity.

Do you like the questions listed above?  What kinds of questions would you ask?  Would this kind of an activity invite participation?  Could this fly with undergraduate and/or graduate students? 

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Studies about College Students, Libraries, and Information Literacy

    A friend of mine, who used to be the library director here at the ISU Library, shared the following link to an article from Inside HigherEd: "What Students Don't Know."  It confirmed a lot that I already knew, experienced, or suspected.  Students hardly know where the Library is, rarely ask for help from a librarian (even though it would help them immensely, ease their anxiety, and increase their efficiency), often overestimate their (re)search skills, rely entirely too much on Google, apply Google search statement logic to database searching, do not search Google effectively, and do just enough research to get by or to "satisfice."

    The article mentioned that librarians and faculty are partly to blame.  Librarians sometime overestimate the "digital natives" abilities, sometimes intimidating them further.  Faculty look at librarians as good for finding sources but not good at conducting research.  Steve Kolowich writes a good article here, citing several studies that back up the claims listed above.  He writes: "The most alarming finding in the ERIAL studies was perhaps the most predictable: when it comes to finding and evaluating sources in the Internet age, students are downright lousy."  What can we do as librarians to help students?  How can we get them to ask us for assistance beyond locating the restroom?  We can help students with research.

    Students could benefit from instruction on how to use Google, so they can understand how it differs from the academic databases:
    Throughout the interviews, students mentioned Google 115 times -- more than twice as many times as any other database. The prevalence of Google in student research is well-documented, but the Illinois researchers found something they did not expect: students were not very good at using Google. They were basically clueless about the logic underlying how the search engine organizes and displays its results. Consequently, the students did not know how to build a search that would return good sources. (For instance, limiting a search to news articles, or querying specific databases such as Google Book Search or Google Scholar.) (Kolowich)

    Perhaps we can ask that classes come to the Library for more instruction, maybe we can visit their classroom, share contact information and handouts, or maybe we could even ask to be embedded in the course management software, i.e. Blackboard or Moodle.  Moreover, we can smile more frequently at the reference desk and be more approachable. 

    With more students working another job and/or dealing with family responsibilities, librarians need to be practical in working with students.  Librarians can tout their skills to students by telling them they can teach skills and strategies that will help them save time and become more efficient with their research.  Give some tips that will make the research process less frustrating.  Kolowich references one of the studies to support the claim that librarians are more relevant than ever: "The evidence from ERIAL lends weight to their counterargument: librarians are more relevant than they have ever been, since students need guides to shepherd them through the wilderness of the Web."

    If you are a librarian, read this article.

    What can librarians do to garner more trust from students and faculty?  What can we do to increase the information literacy skills of the students?

    "Shepherd and Baby Lambs." See by Ian Britton.

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    More Tutorials for Graduate Students

    Last week I taught a graduate student workshop for some physical science and sports science graduate students.  After updating a PE for Grad Students site, I created a Jing tutorial, explaining what changes I had made that may be helpful for them.  Unfortunately, it exceeded my goal of less than three minutes (it is 3:47 long).

    On that site is a link to a tutorial a graduate student in the College of Education's Instructional Design program helped me create using Camtasia.  This tutorial is the first I have created using this powerful software.  Honestly, I only recorded the tutorial, and the graduate student edited the content.  Last week I uploaded it to TeacherTube with the title: Research Success for Graduate Students. Again, this tutorial is a bit lengthy.  It seems that students prefer short, brief tutorials, so who know how many will even look at it.  Hopefully, the conscientious graduate students will watch and benefit from viewing it.

    Are screencasts worth doing?  Have you benefited from viewing screencasts?  Do you create screencasts yourself?  Please share what you do and why.

    I still need to read the article "Do Screencasts Really Work?"  If you have read this article, please comment on it.  Do you agree?

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    Library Instruction for English Composition Courses

    I recently read an article worth sharing with others in the Loex Quarterly newsletter.  JaNae Kinikin and Shaun Jackson, of Weber State University wrote the article titled: "Using a Back and Forth Presentation Format to Engage Students in Introductory English Composition Courses." 

    If you have ever wondered how to create a standardized library instruction session, this article should give you some good ideas.  They have created a PowerPoint presentation that unifies the instruction.  More interestingly, the article focuses on how they have sought for input and feedback from students in their classes to drive the type of instruction they offer.  Understanding how they used to solicit feedback and how they do it now is quite useful.  They now use TurningPoint software, which seems to be quicker than the "raise your hands if question B applies to you" method. 

    Finding out if students know and understand how to search the catalog and the databases can be helpful in gearing the instruction to the students' needs.  The authors wrote:
    The interactive nature of the presentation from the very beginning makes the sessions more informal and results in students being more comfortable in asking questions when given time to complete their worksheets.
    They suggest that a little bit of humor be inserted into the answers.  To the question: "Have you ever used a library catalog?"  Students could choose among these three options:
    1. Yes
    2. No
    3. What the heck is a library catalog?
    According to the authors, this teaching method has improved their teaching experience.