I’m doing a workshop soon for some grad students who are teaching assistants for a large, introductory, first-year course at my university. I did a research workshop for them in past semesters, and this semester, the faculty member in charge of the TA’s suggested we build on previous workshops, possibly having a conversation around the theme “Misconceptions and Mistakes Regarding Library Research.” The goal of me working with them is, rather than doing a million one-shots, I can work with the teaching assistants themselves to help them build students’ information literacy skills.
Now, on the one hand, the theme is obvious: everything I do, really, relates, in some sense, to misconceptions and mistakes regarding research that students may have. For example, I’ve built information literacy learning outcomes for our program, and in some sense, they’re all organized around this theme, e.g., I think first year-students often choose topics that are too broad or generic, or don’t arise from an authentic place, because they learned in high school that that’s what research is; they have what I’ve called a “Google mindset” toward research”: they think that you can do one search for “walkability built environment happiness” and get all ten articles you need; they don’t understand that a major reason you use sources is to provide evidence for each claim you make; and so forth. Each one of these “mistakes or misconceptions” is something I’ve built a learning outcome around, because I think they’re major, and pervasive.
But, on the other hand, I think this is actually a really interesting way to frame a workshop like this. I told the instructor as much, and said that I have some things I can bring to the table with this, for sure. I also suggested that he query what the TA”s have to say about this, pass their takes along to me, and maybe I’ll be able to prepare some “answers” for them that they can use to work with students w/r/t the misconceptions with research they see. So, ultimately, I think it’s maybe a really interesting way to think about what we do, how to collaborate with faculty and TA’s, and how to approach IL instruction.
So, here’s a question:
If you were going to point out common misconceptions students have, and mistakes students (particularly students in their first year) might make, what, dear readers, would you say? What skills might you target to work on with the TA’s?