Workshop facilitated by Anne-Marie Deitering
Oregon State University Libraries and Press
Anne-Marie led the participants through the process of rethinking the way assignments are designed and delivered. The key point is to note that we are asking students to keep an open mind and sometimes to change and challenge their set of beliefs and opinions. The interaction couldn’t have been more authentic as groups discussed internally examples of bad assignments and what are the underlying reasons that made them as such. Some examples given were asking students to check resources that are not available through the Library, or students finding irrelevant sources through the libraries. This shows that a Library is not a source sandbox. Anne-Marie stressed that such assignments are not better than nothing, they can be harmful. And this is something critical since it impacts the role of the Library by not being able to serve the students properly. To address this issue, there is a need to firmly articulate the learning goals, and to understand the students’ needs. These needs will be used to achieve the defined goal. For example, students need to practice by doing real life tasks. Students need to know about how people use the data/sources that we are asking them to check, because the students’ behavior should reflect how people act in a specific discipline. So needless to say, assignment instructions should be based on real life behaviors. In addition, while teaching and guiding students we need to start by something that they already know and then guide them beyond their comfort zone. Anne-Maries did a fantastic job facilitating this workshop and it was a learning lesson on workshop management :)
(Segment by Hossein Hamam)
In this part of the invited workshop, Anne Marie Dietering gave us ideas and inspiration for assisting students with creative topic generations. A key issue in research is understanding where questions come from, and how to encourage students to approach research from a perspective of genuine curiosity and creativity, not requirement. She pointed out that students usually choose a topic they are already familiar with, because they perceive it as too risky to choose an unknown topic, thereby missing the point that research is based on curiosity and risk. We began the session in small groups, discussing a random object that had been placed on each table. We were asked to come up with questions about the object. Then, she walked us through a three-item scale to help us identify our own curiosity sources. Epistemic curiosity is stimulated by ideas and components, such as puzzles and how things work. Perceptual curiosity is stimulated by the senses, such as touch, sound and smell. Interpersonal curiosity is stimulated by other people, such as wondering how they behave and what they feel or think. More information and an online test is available here. After examining our sources of curiosity, we revisited the random object and discussed our process of coming up with questions about it - how did our inherent style of curiosity affect our questions? Key takeaways from this exercise are that when stakes are low, curiosity can be higher; and, working in groups can give confidence to brainstorm other questions. We then discussed topic selection in research, and how library instruction tends to come in after the topic has been selected, when it should be considered as well. Choosing a topic requires openness, awareness and confidence. Students must understand that research both answers and generates questions. “Field research” in the sense of going out and talking or observing people can be used to generate research topic ideas. Another exercise to develop research topics is to take two topics and find connections. This interdisciplinary approach can result in new and interesting ideas.
(Segment by Rebecca Miller)
Photo credit: Dimana Doneva
More photos available here.