Friday, September 07, 2007

Teaching Library Research

Twice now I've taught a semester-long 2 credit hour Library Research Methods class. It's been a blast! There are a few techniques I've gleaned from various readings that have proven extraordinarily successful, and I thought I'd start sharing these on this blog.

Teaching Technique # 1: The Pop Quiz
Now, before you all shriek in horror, hear me out. This is used as an assessment of attendance. With approximately 28 total class meetings, I gave 11 pop quizzes, with the 11th being extra credit.

As long as the student takes the quiz, full credit (2 points) is given. If the quiz is given at the beginning of class, and students enter once the quiz is in progress, they are not allowed to take it. Thus - Don't be late!

Questions asked are used to assess student understanding of topics (i.e., what I need to explain better), student opinions of teaching methods, student questions, etc. Here's a list of questions I've asked:

  1. What was the most important thing you learned today? What are you still confused about?
  2. What do you like most about this class? What do you like least?
  3. What is a scholarly journal article?
  4. List as many limiting and advanced search options as you can think of.
  5. What is difficult or confusing about writing annotations?
  6. What questions do you still have based on what you’ve learned in this course?
  7. Which teaching/learning technique in this class has worked best for you? Worst? (getting at discussion, hands-on, group work, etc)
  8. What questions do you have about the final project?
As I said, it worked fantastically! Students love being solicited for input (this works in the library as well - have a comment box or give a survey asking for their comments on what could be done to improve their library experience!). My colleague, Andrew, is trying Pop Quizzes as he teaches the class this semester. While skeptical at first, he's since commented that it really does work well.

[I am no longer 100% sure, but I think this came from the most excellent book, Successful Beginnings for College Teaching. It's one of the best teaching books I've read!]


reyn said...

When I was a Supplemental Instructor in college, the Instructor I worked with gave a 2-point quiz every single day of class. If you so much as wrote your name on the page, you got a point. The second point was for getting the right answer. Quite often, if we had enough of the quiz-allotted time left, we'd check their answer and give it back if it wasn't right yet.

Kat said...

Reyn - yet another great use of brief quizzes. Learning still takes place without quite the normal pressure of a standard pop quiz. Half as attendance and half as learning, but with feedback and options to fix if time allows. Nice.