Now that much of my teaching is done for the term, I seem to be reading more about instruction now. A recent post from Iris caught my attention. In the post she writes about one shots and the idea that she should approach them as a lecturer might – not teaching everything in the limited time given but getting students excited about the topic instead. I kind of love this idea. It does seem impossible to teach all the skills we’d love them to have in an hour. At best, I hope that they remember where they can get help when they’ve forgotten everything I tried to teach them. I like the idea of using that session to teach them a few basic skills but using that time to also get them excited about research. I hope to try to incorporate this into my teaching and this will mean approaching it in a whole different light.
Another post I recently read discusses a phenomenon I’ve been noticing in my research consultations. In a post related to the recent release of the latest Project Information Literacy report, Barbara Fister talks about students drowning in information. Students can find information – in fact, they find too much information. The problem often lies in not understanding what they’re trying to find and thus they find too much. They need to find the right resources. I’ve seen an increasing number of students looking for help before they even know what the research question means – starting is the issue, finding is not. They don’t understand the topics well enough to identify the best places to start, let alone which items are best in the thousands of items returned. I’ve always tried to steer students to the best starting places in my classes and it seems there may need to be more emphasis placed here and on identifying the best sources.
So in light of these two posts, I’m starting to rethink my instruction approach, as well as the conversations I need to have with faculty. Many professors expect a one shot to be enough to pass on the skills they need for research for their entire academic careers. We may have some convincing to do to make them see us as lecturers, who won’t teach everything they need in 50 minutes, but I think it might be worth the fight. As a librarian who’s no longer on the reference desk, I’ll also have to figure out what this change in approach might mean for me in workload – if I can’t get all of the skills covered in class (a feat which is difficult even in the traditional one shot), will I have more research consultations, what will be the impact on the research help desk? Instead of skills, can I concentrate on starting research and the things you need to consider, including starting resources and best resources? The new term may be an interesting instruction term!