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Spring Training reports – part II

Today we share the second installment of reports on the 2019 LILAC Spring Training sessions.

Wikipedia Redux: Using Wikipedia in One-Shots and Credit Courses
Presented by Monica Berger (City Tech)

Blog post by Julie Turley (Kingsborough Community College)
Professor Berger’s presentation was an opportunity to ask the audience how they have used Wikipedia in an active learning style in library instruction. Given her deep interest in Wikipedia as a pedagogical tool, she noted that Wikipedia is under-used, and when included has primarily served only as a passive “show and discuss” tool, as many librarians say they have no time for any kind of active learning in one-shots.

Dissatisfied with typical Wikipedia “show and tell,” Prof. Berger pointed out that there was much that could be done in respect to Wikipedia engagement, even in a one-shot, ranging from discussions about keyword and topic development to issues of attribution and citation. In her own classes, she noted that students are particularly fascinated with the “Talk” tab on every entry–the place where public discussion about an entry take place.

She also noted that Wikipedia is a fruitful starting point for pop cultural topics, and that Wikipedia, as an introductory site or a bridge to library resources in a one-shot, has the benefit of being instantly familiar with students, whereas they might not be with the library’s own website. During her session, Prof. Berger proposed several ideas for using Wikipedia in library instruction, including: performing a resource analysis exercise with article references using a worksheet; exploring how articles are rated in the “talk” tab and exploring the quality scale; or having students flesh out “stub” articles.

Baptism by Call Number
Presented by Paul Sager (Lehman College/Hunter College)

Blog post by Julie Turley (Kingsborough Community College)
While many library orientations “skip the stacks,” Professor Sager wants to make sure Lehman College freshman interact with Lehman College Library’s book stacks as part of orientation activities. Noting anecdotally that students don’t use the library collection of print books enough and that other info literacy activities never ask them to find a book in the library–and that nationwide, overall book circulation statistics are down–Prof. Sager thought that bringing students to the stacks might do a little, at least, to rectify this trend and expose students to valuable library resources.

Because books come up as part of OneSearch results, Prof. Sager felt a book search activity would be highly relevant. He chooses the books that students must find in advance, spacing out the call numbers throughout one designated section of the Lehman Library. Some students run into a problem when a book that is in the catalog is missing from the collection. This difficulty, however, presents a pedagogical opportunity.

“How Can We Do All This in One Session?” The Advantages of Multi-Shot Library Instruction
Presented by Derek Stadler (LaGuardia Community College)

Blog post by Sheena Philogene (Brooklyn College)
Derek Stadler described his design of multi-shot instruction, in which he incorporates three 1-hour library sessions into a First Year Seminar class, for students intending to major in the Natural Sciences. The sessions are intended to introduce various aspects of the research process and build on one another: The first session includes explanations and activities that give students a chance to think critically about their topics, ideas, and the research process as a whole. Then, the second session involves choosing relevant databases and keywords developed in the first session to find appropriate sources to satisfy students’ information needs. Finally, later in the semester, he uses the third session to show students how their newly learned research skills can extend beyond the classroom, by helping students discover more about prospective careers using research methods.

During the group discussion, Prof. Stadler said that the gaps between sessions seemed to allow students to absorb and apply the skills they learned better over time, and made it easier to build rapport with students. The group also talked about how much the multi-shot approach requires faculty buy-in and a large time investment from librarians, so it may not be as practical in cases where librarians have many sessions to teach. But when organized correctly between the librarian and professor, this method can provide the kind of point-of-need instruction that students can really benefit from.

Socratic Method
Presented by Bill Blick (Queensborough Community College)

Blog post by Sheena Philogene (Brooklyn College)
Bill Blick explained how he uses Socratic questioning during his library sessions to enhance the single session format. He opened the conversation by raising the point that students often don’t know or understand why they are taking a library session, and this makes them less receptive to the information they are given. In response, Prof. Blick has started asking students open-ended questions during library sessions. He reasons that rather than having a librarian give all the answers, Socratic questions can encourage students to do their own critical thinking, create and articulate their own ideas, and draw conclusions (find the “why”).

In the ensuing discussion, Prof. Blick acknowledged that asking students questions can be hit or miss, leading to a silent room or a discussion that is monopolized by a few students. However, when it works, this method is a good way to build a comfortable environment with students where they can feel welcome to engage with their learning and share their ideas and perspectives. Since students will need these skills throughout their academic careers, it will only help them to practice early and often.