- Specific Context
ENG1100 is an English Composition class with an Information Literacy (IL) unit. The focus of the IL unit is the Research Process. The class can have up to 25 students and is taught by both full-time and adjunct professors in the English Department. The Information Literacy unit is taught by me and is 150 minutes (50 minutes 3x or 75 minutes 2x) total in a computer classroom that I schedule once I know which week the IL instruction will take place. An additional 1 to 3 sessions take place in the library information commons the week following IL instruction so that students can do research for their class assignment (a paper) while both the professor of record and the librarian are available to assist.
- General Context
The English Department is part of the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) and the ENG1100 course is part of the general education (GE) requirements. Most students take ENG1100, but a few test out and some transfer students have taken the course elsewhere. Our accreditation body, WASC, expects the university to address IL as one of the five core competencies. The CAS expects students to be introduced to IL concepts and begin practicing IL skills in the ENG1100 course. The focus and context for this introduction is the Research Process – scholarship as a conversation and research as a process.
- Nature of the Subject
IL as taught in ENG1100 is both theoretical and practical. Students are introduced to ideas, concepts, and metaphors to help them understand academic scholarship, what is expected of them as scholars, and what IL means in the context of academia. Students are then walked through the basic research process and taught practical skills that they practice using worksheets designed for the IL unit. IL is both convergent and divergent since particular skills need to be learned and practiced, but it transcends skills and resources. We hope to move students from rote skills to concepts that will allow them to adapt those skills to future needs.
- Characteristics of Learners
Most students in ENG1100 are between the ages of 18-22 and are in their first year of university coursework. Extrinsic motivation is still the main motivating factor for students in this class; very few come into the IL instruction and practice sessions wanting to learn what is taught. These students do tend to respond to a tie-in to the assignment, interesting hands on practice, group work, and an in context reason why they should learn what is taught.
- Characteristics of the Teacher
I believe that students need to know that what I teach them will benefit them in both immediate and future ways. Tying the IL instruction to an assignment, providing hands-on practice, using visual aids (infographics, etc.), and making the instruction interactive between myself, the professor of record, and the students makes them participants in the teaching/learning experience. Hopefully they will begin to see how IL is relevant to their own lives as students, citizens, and future professionals.
SIGNIFICANT LEARNING GOALS
A year or more after this course is over, I want and hope that students will be confident in their ability to find and evaluate information in various contexts and for various needs.
- The importance of context to the research process
- Scholarship and the scholarly conversation
- The iterative nature of research
- Write a focused topic statement (practical and creative thinking)
- Identify keywords and synonyms (practical and creative thinking)
- Identify and use appropriate information seeking tools for the topic (practical thinking)
- Critically evaluate the resources found (critical thinking)
- Cite resources used (practical thinking)
- Information seeking skills learned in this class can be adapted and used in other classes and for needs outside of the academic realm.
- Critical thinking and evaluation skills are always useful and appropriate no matter the situation or context.
- Proper and ethical use of information is always appropriate.
Human Dimension Goals
- You can do this! Students can learn to search multiple and complex systems.
- Trial and error, people! There is not one perfect or correct search.
- You are not alone! Research takes time and others struggle with and “work” the process too.
- Take advantage of the opportunity to practice during class time and get useful feedback on your practice worksheets; these are not assigned a grade and it is a safe space to explore and practice search skills and critical evaluation.
- Think about and develop a search plan. Strategic searching will save time and frustration.
- Accept the invitation to use the librarian as a human resource for research help in this class, other classes, and whenever you need information assistance.