Adapting the KWL chart to teach Library information literacy

KWL stands for “What do you know? What do you want to know? And “What have you learned?”. Now imagine these three questions as headings in a columned chart and you have your “KWL chart”. Typically this tool for teaching literacy is used as a before reading strategy in subjects like history, but “[t]eachers across content area subjects have confirmed the usefulness and flexibility of the KWL technique for introducing a unit of study” (Fisher, 2007). Instructors teaching Library information literacy can also use this tool. The basics of the KWL chart method are as follows:

  • The first step is to identify the topic under investigation. Let’s say LIB 001 Library Foundations.
  • Introduce students to the topic. This step ensures that every student has some ideas about the topic under discussion
  • Invite students to share what they already know about the topic. Record their responses, right or wrong, on the chart or board.
  • Ask students what they would like to know about the topic and record these responses in the appropriate column
  • As the topic of study come to a close, return to the KWL chart and ask students to review their initial knowledge and questions. Then invite discussion about what they have learned from the workshop.

Keeping with our chosen topic of Library Foundations, questions to ask students would include “What do you know about types of academic sources? What do you know about searching for books and articles? What do you know about accessing books and articles? What do you know about accessing your library account?”. Record student answers in the “K” column (What do I know?). Then ask a second set of questions “What do I want to know?” about Library Foundations and record student responses in the “W” column. Finally, after workshop discussion and activities ask students to provide feedback of what they have learned, and record these in the “L” column (What have I learned?). There’s your KWL chart adapted for library information literacy!

The benefits of employing the KWL chart include getting a better estimation of what your students know and what they have learned after a workshop. As library instructors often face the challenge of running one–off sessions with limited opportunities to make assessments the KWL chart provides a quick and easy method to estimate student learning.

For other Teaching Tips and more Teaching Resources see:

LINC Toolkit – Teaching Resources

Thank you,

The Library Instruction Committee

Fisher, D., Brozo, W. G., Frey, N., & Ivey, G. (2007). 50 Content Strategies for Adolescent Literacy. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education Inc.

 

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Preparing your whole self before teaching

Teaching is an activity that engages various modalities. Besides constructing lesson plans, creating powepoint presentations and workshop activities, instructors also have to perform the function of teaching using all of their physical senses. Similar to other types of public performance, teaching demands that we are prepared not only technically, but  mentally and physically as well. Most of us have experienced feeling nervous, tired and physically uncomfortable before teaching – this comes with the territory, which is why it is recommended to try some physical exercises before teaching in order to relax and prepare your whole self. Check out the body, breathing, and voice exercises on the following link, and consider adding some of these to your ‘pre-teaching ritual’:

 http://www.lib.utexas.edu/services/instruction/tips/ic/ic_before.html

For other Teaching Tips and more Teaching Resources see:

LINC Toolkit – Teaching Resources

Thank you,

The Library Instruction Committee

 

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What are Your Students’ Real InfoLit Needs? Does it matter?

LINC Teaching Tip October 2014

Me: I’m preparing an information literacy (IL) session. I have the class assignment but I don’t know the IL level or skills of the class. Does it matter? As long as I explain everything clearly and thoroughly enough, they will absorb anything I tell them. Right?

My Friend: Not so fast. Teaching is more than broadcasting content. You want your students to listen to your message, understand it and act on it. How can you facilitate listening?

Me: Speak slowly and clearly. Wear a microphone to compensate for the room noise.

My Friend: You need to make an emotional connection with them. People listen better to talks when they feel respected. Tailoring your IL session to students’ real needs and interests is one approach. Even better – tell them about themselves. “Many of you chose Google for this exercise. Let’s explore why.”

Me: OK – I am convinced. I will ask the prof what their IL skills are.

My Friend: Faculty usually know what IL skills they want their students to have. However, they don’t usually know if the students have the skills.  (Leckie & Fullerton, 1999).

Me: I’ll ask the prof to ask the students. Self-reporting is ok?

My Friend: Research shows that students (people in general) overestimate their IL skills. (Haglund & Herron, 2008)

Why not test/investigate student knowledge yourself before you meet the class. For example, use the quiz features of LEARN or LibGuides to create:

  • Multiple choice questions to test IL concepts e.g. Here is a research question.  Which of the following is the best search statement for retrieving relevant articles from a research databases? You can adapt similar questions from a Quebec IL study of 1st year students (Mittermeyer & Quirion, 2003) and the website Assessments of Information Literacy  http://jfmueller.faculty.noctrl.edu/infolitassessments.htm
  • Assign relevant critical thinking tasks before the class e.g. Turn this research question into keywords and explain your keyword choices. Or Find an article on a topic and cite it in APA. How and why did you choose the article?

Me: If you try these or other methods for learning about your student audience, share your results by posting to the LINC Teaching Tips blog. Thanks, Anne

Anne Fullerton, Librarian for Biology, Chemical Eng. and Systems Design Eng.,  University of Waterloo Library.   anne.fullerton@uwaterloo.ca

Haglund, L., and Herron, D. 2008. Students with Non-Proficient Information Seeking Skills Greatly Over-Estimate Their Abilities. Evidence Based Library And Information Practice, 3(2), 48-51. Retrieved from http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/EBLIP/article/view/1460

Leckie, G. and A. Fullerton. 1999. Information Literacy in Science and Engineering Undergraduate Education: Faculty Attitudes and Pedagogical Practices. College & Research Libraries, 60 (1), 9 – 29. doi.org/10.5860/crl.60.1.9 

Mittermeyer, D. and D. Quirion. 2003.  Information Literacy: Study of Incoming First-Year Undergraduates in Quebec. Quebec, Working Group on Library Instruction of the Subcommittee on Libraries, CREPUQ http://www.crepuq.qc.ca/documents/bibl/formation/studies_Ang.pdf

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How do You Determine Your Teaching Philosophy?

“What is the evidence that how we teach is successful?” Neil Haave begs the question in his June Faculty Focus blog post. While observing students and retrieving students’ evaluations can be helpful, Haave also stresses the importance of self-reflection; he encourages instructors to reflect on impactful learning experiences to determine how these have helped shape their current teaching practices. He writes, “Both exemplary and deeply unsatisfying learning/teaching experiences can be used to develop learning and teaching philosophies because each will say something about how we prefer to learn and what teaching practices we and our students have found to be successful” (Haave, 2014).

Take a look at Haave’s post for his six teaching questions to determine your own teaching philosophy, and great self-reflective activity during these calmer summer months before the September teaching storm kicks in!

Haave, N. (2014). Six questions that will bring your teaching philosophy into focus. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/philosophy-of-teaching/six-questions-will-bring-teaching-philosophy-focus/

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Students are Already Experts

This month’s Teaching Tip comes to us from The Library Instruction Cookbook once again. This resource provides many activity ideas to spice up your lesson plans, so keep it in mind if you’re revamping your fall classes.

The idea behind “They Are Already Experts” (Miller, 52) is to recognize most students’ ability to perform a quick search on any topic. At the start of your lesson, pose a research question to the class, divide them into groups, and ask them to begin searching as they normally would, in whichever resources they normally would, if an instructor posed this question to them.

After five minutes of searching, consult with each group to see what they found, what difficulties they had, and if they think these resources are appropriate for a scholarly paper. Then briefly demonstrate a search within a library resource that could help them to find more relevant results.

As Sara Miller, the creator of this activity, states, “It is very important to remain objective during this exercise and not to criticize students’ work. Building trust with the students is essential” for them to keep an open mind and begin exploring new research resources beyond their usual Google research patterns (Miller, 53).

For other Teaching Tips and more Teaching Resources see:

LINC Toolkit – Teaching Resources

Thank you,

The Library Instruction Committee

Miller, S. (2009). They are already experts. In R.L. Sittler & D. Cook (Eds.), The Library Instruction Cookbook (52-53). Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries.

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Reflections on WILU 2014

As a first-time attendee at WILU (The Workshop for Instruction in Library Use), I found the conference to be incredibly relevant and invigorating to my liaison work. Sessions ranged from flipped classrooms to LibGuides to in-house professional development, but most notable were the opening and closing keynote talks regarding the new ACRL Standards.

Craig Gibson and Trudi Jacobson, two of the document’s co-authors, discussed how the document is intended to be used while closing keynote, Megan Oakleaf, gave in-class examples of how to bring the Threshold Concepts to life. My take home from these talks was the deliberate ambiguity of the new standards, leaving them wide open to interpretation. The authors hoped to steer away from a set of skills, much like the previous standard’s Performance Indicators, that students could check off as having completed. They recognize that becoming information literate is more complex than such strict indicators, and the new standards need to reflect this rapidly-changing landscape.

However, Gibson and Jacobson certainly heard the audience out when they asked how these vague threshold concepts could be adapted to the classroom – a question we’ve wondered ourselves at Waterloo. It will be interesting to see if and how they respond to these concerns with the final draft of the document when it comes out later this year.

NOTE: Although the WILU website has not been updated with this year’s presentations, it was announced that a new repository will be created to house proceedings from the WILU conference. No word yet on when this is set to launch.

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Spring Clean Your Classes

In light of last month’s post, to self-reflect in order to regain focus and purpose in the classroom, this month we turn to Quality Matters for insight into their peer-review program. Quality Matters, a U.S.-based program, is designed to help instructors develop, maintain, and review their online programs, with a focus on quality assurance before these courses are offered.

While the official program offers more structure and support to users, it may be helpful to self-assess using the Quality Standards Framework. The Framework uses a series of questions to help determine if your course is on the right track. It breaks down into categories such as Learning Objectives (“Will the student retain the knowledge and skills developed?”), Instructional Materials (“Are there ‘remedial routes’ for learners who struggle with concepts, skills, and competencies?”), and Learner Support (“If a learner is ‘fast-tracking’ through a course, are they able to do so without being held up by the schedule or technology?”).

As we head into the spring term, use the Framework to refresh those courses you’ve been teaching for multiple semesters, or to help with the structure of a new course. Happy teaching!

For other Teaching Tips and more Teaching Resources see:

LINC Toolkit – Teaching Resources

Thank you,

The Library Instruction Committee

Contact North. (2014). Ontario Online Learning Portal for Faculty and Instructors. Retrieved from http://contactnorth.ca/tips-tools/quality-in-online-learning/what-do-i-need-to-know-about-quality-in-online-learning

Maryland Online. (2013). Quality Matters. Retrieved from https://www.qualitymatters.org/higher-education-program

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Teaching Squares: A Recap

After a semester of observations through the Teaching Squares (TS) program offered by CTE, four librarians have emerged as more self-aware instructors. The program is intended to improve instructional skills through observation and self-reflection, with a strong mandate to avoid the harsh criticism that can come with peer evaluation.

Here to talk about her experience in the program is Anne Fullerton, seasoned instructor and initiator of the TS program through the Library.

You instigated the Library’s involvement in TS: what drew you to the program?

Anne: It was unique. I hadn’t heard of that approach as a way of building teaching skills.

What is the biggest take away you gained from TS?

A: I think it’s the idea that when you watch someone else do something you’ve done in the past, it makes you think “why don’t I reintroduce this?” Of course there are new ideas too…

Would you encourage another group of librarians to participate?

A: Of course! Every group’s experience will be different, but at the very least they’ll have their mental models of how they teach wiggled. It’s another way of reflecting on what you’re currently doing. Reflection is good, especially for teaching.

For more information on the TS program, visit the CTE Workshops and Programs webpage.

For other Teaching Tips and more Teaching Resources see:

LINC Toolkit – Teaching Resources

Thank you,

The Library Instruction Committee

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Spotlight on Wikipedia

Librarians are often divided on Wikipedia use for academic research: some steer clear of the site entirely, while others promote its use for the purpose of finding more scholarly references. In the January edition of CRL News, Cate Calhoun discusses the online encyclopedia’s ability to support the research process in new ways, such as developing topics.

Calhoun uses the example of “sustainability” as a tricky term for databases to understand because it relates to so many fields of research. Wikipedia can help students brainstorm narrower terms, such as “environment”, “economy”, and “social issues” through its subheadings.

The CRL News article is a good reminder for librarians to meet students halfway by incorporating familiar websites – even “bad” ones – into our learning environments so we can shape their use more effectively.

For other Teaching Tips and more Teaching Resources see:

LINC Toolkit – Teaching Resources

Thank you,

The Library Instruction Committee

Calhoun, C. (2014). Using Wikipedia in information literacy instruction. CRL News 75(1), 32-33. Retrieved from http://crln.acrl.org/content/75/1/32.full

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Comedians of the Classroom

What do librarians and stand-up comedians have in common?

Actually, a lot.

Both groups regularly work to gain the attention of new audiences for short periods of time, usually between 10-60 mins. And while the content is drastically different, librarians can learn a lot from seasoned stand-ups in terms of delivery.

For instance, Aziz Ansari (of the TV series Parks and Recreation) will often test new material at a number of clubs in one night, recording his performacne so he can guage the audience’s enjoyment of each joke afterwards. The lesson here is that “it is important to solicit feedback frequently and from a variety of sources” (Tewell, 2014).

For more tips on engaging audiences during one-shot sessions, read “What stand-up comedians teach us about library instruction“.

For other Teaching Tips and more Teaching Resources see:

LINC Toolkit – Teaching Resources

Thank you,

The Library Instruction Committee

Tewell, E.C. (2014). What stand-up comedians teach us about library instruction. College and Research Libraries News 75(1), 28-30.

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