September 12, 2016

Teaching Topics

I'm revising my instructional methods yet again this semester: I'm asking students to answer questions in advance of our time together. These questions typically relate to the assignment or mimic what the students would do in Real Life.

For instance, I asked the graduate students to find what we librarians call "known items" -- articles on a topic similar to one they will be researching on their own. The prompt indicates that the articles were assigned by a professor or were articles that they themselves found while reading a book assigned for class. I carefully chose the three article / types they needed to find:
  1. The first was easy to find on Mr. Google, whether on- or off-campus.
  2. The second was easy to find if the students used the library site I made for their class (i.e., if they used a library database)
  3. The third was only available as an Interlibrary Loan, through the library site I made for their class.
Their second scenario requires them to develop good search terms for that topic in a library database.

When I'm in the class with them, we leapfrog from these questions -- and the challenges they raise -- directly into doing searches in library resources. I am moderately confident that this method is increasing student engagement with the library instruction session... will need to do a bit of assessment to determine if that is the case.

You can see the prompts and the library site I prepared for one of these classes at
Stephanie teaching a PR class, Fall 2015

June 03, 2016

Information Now! "Graphic Textbook" for Info. Literacy

Book cover
Information Now: A Graphic Guide to Student Research by Matt Upson, C. Michael Hall, and Kevin Cannon is a terrific addition to the tools I use to teach students how to do online research.

I love it for two reasons:
  1. It's graphic, cute, and trendy ...
  2. It's accurate, thorough, and humorous.
Here are some specifics of what I love about the book:
  • The librarian uses chairs to illustrate why subject headings can be helpful -- adding that chairs are also seats, and are within the category of "furniture."
  • Chairs, p. 34
  • She illustrates Boolean operators with Venn diagrams, by talking about a search for Pirates (no, not the Pittsburgh Pirates), ships (no, not a UPS truck), and history: 
History of Pirate Ships, p. 46
  • There's a whole chapter devoted to journals & databases, and I've used the 7-page discussion of popular, trade, and scholarly journals in classes with good results.
Journals, p. 55
  • The chapter on searching the web (including Wikipedia) is followed by a chapter on evaluating sources. The librarian offers the usual (to librarians) questions about authority, purpose, accuracy, relevance, and objectivity. Here's an illustration of a persuasive site:
    Persuasion, p. 86

  • The book concludes with a chapter on Using Information Ethically, which covers plagiarism and citations, as well as how to quote or paraphrase what you've read.
Paraphrasing, p. 92
I've used it with undergraduates in one-shot sessions -- asking them to read a chapter or two before class, and then discussing the content in class. I've also taught the book in an introductory reference class at UNC's School of Information and Library Science. Finally, I've had my student workers read chapters of the book as part of their training on what a library does -- so they can better help their fellow students from behind the reference desk. I will definitely continue all of these.

If you teach anyone to search for information, I recommend using this book as a supplement to instruction. It's terrific!

Bonus: the book succeeds at being relatively inclusive in its graphics (although the librarian does reflect the majority of U.S. librarians in her look and gender).
People Reading, p. 56

I must raise an ethical question of my own: is it ok for me to use so many photos of graphics used in the book? Chicago University Press can answer the question ... but in my defense, I...
  • took photos with my phone (i.e., lower quality) 
  • blurred out some of the text.
  • only used a tiny handful of graphics
AND since the illustrations are what make the book so great, no review would be complete without at least a few selected images.

May 24, 2016

More Photos

I've been busy taking photographs lately, so am spending less time immersed in cognitive science.
Check out some of my photos on Flickr or Instagram (same photos, different platform)