Tag Archives: Bibliographic instruction is dead

Interesting Carol Dweck piece on ‘Mindset’

Lots of educators and librarians are becoming more and more aware Carol Dweck’s mindset research – the belief that talent and ability our not fixed, but that our efforts, combined with deliberative practice and expert feedback, can help us improve our ability to learn within a particular domain – and, as with any good intellectual idea (cf. the Humanistic Psychology Movement), people have started to adopt a superficial understanding of the idea that leads to poor applications of it.

Dweck has recently addressed some of these misunderstandings in a recent piece in Education Week that’s really worth checking out.

Interesting excerpt:

A growth mindset isn’t just about effort. Perhaps the most common misconception is simply equating the growth mindset with effort. Certainly, effort is key for students’ achievement, but it’s not the only thing. Students need to try new strategies and seek input from others when they’re stuck. They need this repertoire of approaches—not just sheer effort—to learn and improve.

We also need to remember that effort is a means to an end to the goal of learning and improving. Too often nowadays, praise is given to students who are putting forth effort, but not learning, in order to make them feel good in the moment: “Great effort! You tried your best!” It’s good that the students tried, but it’s not good that they’re not learning. The growth-mindset approach helps children feel good in the short and long terms, by helping them thrive on challenges and setbacks on their way to learning. When they’re stuck, teachers can appreciate their work so far, but add: “Let’s talk about what you’ve tried, and what you can try next.”

I thought that was interesting, specifically for librarians, because it shows us how we can be encouraging and helpful to students. We can talk about growth mindset and effort, but also discuss that it’s effective research strategies that librarians can help them with, and that these strategies and asking for help are not supplemental or remedial, but part of the very process of learning itself.

Interesting read.

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Scholarship as Conversation: Teaching the Deep Structure of Attribution with Authentic Problem Contexts

Alex Carroll and Robin Dasler have an important new article out on “Scholarship is a Conversation: Discourse, Attribution, and Twitter’s Role in Information Literacy Instruction” in The Journal of Creative Library Practice that I wanted to draw to the attention of our readers. The article nicely models how we can teach the deep, conceptual structure of something like “why it’s important to cite stuff,” and does so while building a narrative around scholarship as conversation, using a relevant case study students will understand – Twitter – as a meaningful, real-life example.

In my view, one reason this kind of instruction is deeply valuable is that, according to cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham’s summary of the research on the cognitive science of learning,

The surest way to help students understand an abstraction is to expose them to many different versions of the abstraction […] new things are understood by relating them to things we already understand [… ] it’s not simply that giving concrete examples helps. They must also be familiar examples … It’s not the concreteness, it’s the familiarity that is important.

Why Don’t Students Like School? pp. 88-90.

Hence, using Twitter – a concrete example that is familiar to students – is a really effective method from the standpoint of evidence-based teaching practice to teach students the difficult abstract ideas of “attribution” and “scholarship as conversation.”

An excerpt from “Scholarship is a Conversation“:

When addressing scholarly attribution, citation, and plagiarism in one-shot instruction sessions, librarians often fail to present these issues in a manner that has relevance for students. Librarians often focus on intellectual honesty and the potential ramifications of plagiarism, both individual pursuits, rather than explaining that by creating an academic work, students are participating in academic discourse […]

One of the major deficiencies of this compliance-based instruction is that it presents students with a false dichotomy that does not align with their authentic life experiences; plagiarism is demonstrated as a black and white issue, rather than existing in shades of gray. Students who have come of age within a twenty-first century information ecosystem rife with remix and parody culture will likely find teaching that presents the re-use of source material as a non-nuanced issue unconvincing. Because students respond positively to instruction that aligns with their authentic experiences, this suggests that librarians need to develop new methods for teaching attribution and scholarly discourse that not only recognize the nuance inherent to these topics, but also presents these concepts within a familiar framework . As a familiar platform for social interaction with multiple avenues for giving credit and a shorter timescale, Twitter presents an opportunity to place attribution, plagiarism, and integrity into a humanizing, real world context that models how discourse unfolds in an authentic manner for learners. By embedding attribution instruction into a meaningful context, librarians and other educators can make substantial and much needed improvements to traditional compliance-based instruction, which is often built upon the slow, rigid, and unfamiliar patterns of how to cite scholarly works […]

Rather than limiting attribution to the realm of in-text citation and bibliographies, librarians working within libraries of all types should consider connecting these issues to case studies, which can convey to the public and students of all ages that attribution and copyright have relevance beyond the confines of academic writing.

Great case study in teaching students in a relevant way that moves beyond pointing and clicking; definitely worth a read, and a fine example of quality work in evidence-based information literacy instruction.

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A Compelling Case for Active Learning

On Twitter the other day, a tweet from @TheAtlanticEducation caught my eye: All students don’t learn the same.  For readers of this blog, it will come as no surprise that this was clickbait for me—learning styles are our bête noire, so any article that potentially engages with that conversation is a must-read.

In fact, the article wasn’t about learning styles at all. But still interesting and very relevant to any educator: The article, “How Black Students Tend to Learn Science”, summarizes a recent study, “Getting Under the Hood: How and for Whom Does Increasing Course Structure Work?” (open access) from biologists Kelly Hogan (UNC) and Sarah L. Eddy (Univ. of Washington) regarding how different pedagogies can affect students of diverse backgrounds differently. Hogan & Eddy’s study found that STEM courses structured around active learning produced improved outcomes for all students, regardless of their background, but produced a larger improvement in minority students. In fact, active learning pedagogies almost eliminated the gap in outcomes across demographic groups.

One excellent aspect of this study: Previous work has not been robust enough to draw conclusions about the transferability of methods across classrooms, instructors, and disciplines. The experimental design of Hogan & Eddy’s study indicates that active learning methodologies and a more structured course environment do, in fact, work across university contexts.

The preponderance of evidence, from this recent study and others (example), indicates that traditional lecture style classes no longer work, if they ever did. The literature on active learning raises the question: In an increasingly diverse educational landscape, is it even ethical to still teach mainly through lecture? If outcomes are so drastically improved across the board, are you even doing your job if you primarily lecture?

Though the Hogan & Eddy study looks at STEM classrooms, the broader literature indicates that active learning methods achieve similar results, regardless of the discipline. So what does that mean for librarians?

As we’ve discussed both on this blog and in presentations before, lecture-style “how to use a database” demonstrations need to go away…forever. Even if that’s the way we learned, that doesn’t a) mean it’s actually the most effective way to teach and b) take into account the varied backgrounds that students bring to the classroom. Active learning in the library classroom can take many forms, from asking students get their hands dirty in the databases and accomplish tasks to engaging in critical discussions about the creation of information. Yes, in almost every case, we don’t have time in a one-shot to get through everything we want to show students about library research, but if lecture-style teaching doesn’t result in solid, long-term outcomes, then wouldn’t it better be better to focus deeply on one or two critical IL skills that students can carry forward with them?

Active learning is, at its core, student-centered. No matter the good intentions behind it, lecture-style teaching is by nature much more about the lecturer. For educators with student-centered philosophies of teaching, it should come as no surprise that active learning pedagogies are critical to the future of education system with more equitable (and improved) learning outcomes.

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