My mind is bubbling from reading Eveline Houtman’s thoroughly enjoyable article, “Mind-blowing”: fostering self-regulated learning in information literacy instruction, in Communications in Information Literacy 9(1). This post shares a few thought-bubbles.
My own teaching of research skills has (so far) been one-to-one. If classes ever appear in my path, I am eager to apply some of the successful strategies I read about. I picked up a few ideas from Houtman’s sharing of what worked and did not for her classes. As an unschooler, I see self-regulation as the soul of learning, so it is encouraging to find librarians trying to nurture it.
At the same time, in the current climate, I started wondering whether/how those ideas might be incorporated into online delivery of research skills training/education.
Reflect for self-regulation
One big take-away from this article is the value Houtman found from wrapping* her classes in reflective activities to harness ‘why?’ and ‘so what?’ for self-regulated learning. Discussing with others why getting started is or isn’t hardest for us may be engaging in a class setting, but can similar effects be generated by an activity within an online tutorial (which is usually taken solo)?
- Agree/disagree could be polled
- Rather than a poll for ‘why’ perhaps an open answer could be followed up with a summary of other (earlier) students’ responses.
The first class “Getting Started” of Houtman’s series seems to have the most positive impact from its reflective wrapping activity. Yet as Houtman recognised, class content (Kulthau’s model of information search process) specifically includes recognition of feelings throughout the process and thus extends emotive reflection throughout. Is there any way one might include an interactive emotion-exploring element within a library’s online tutorial?
Design for purpose**
Feeling that the reflective wrapper for her Finding Scholarly Sources class appeared to fall flat, Houtman wondered if it was “a case of too much reflection”. Perhaps. Or, I wonder if the end-of-class exercise “go back to opening scenario and reflect on what you would now do differently” is constructive given that a search involves a spiralling process of doing things differently.
Unfortunately, I am uncertain of role of the scenario and end-task for the purpose of the class. What do students need to do differently? Why a scenario that posits a last-minute rush to find scholarly sources? Documenting one’s search process seems to have been this class’ self-regulation activity. Would it help for students to once again identify how they *feel* during the process?
Sources, for courses, or purposes?
Houtman seemed dissatisfied with the impact of reflection activities in both classes about sources. Is there perhaps a conflict between what students must do for assignments, and what might be most productive for development of their critical thinking? Wiser librarians than I have explored that theme. When Houtman mentioned students seeming unaware that critical thinking is an “overarching goal” for their study, I thought “Show me the money”.
Half-way through the article I was bubbling with intent to comment that the answer might arise through focusing on context. Houtman was on to that by the end of the article (based on observing students being more engaged when discussing the idea of context). I hope to see a future article sharing how she reworked the classes.
Online resources vary in their approach to teaching about sources–from pushing ‘scholarly’ to exploring context & purpose. Is that contrast accurate? Would it be possible to compare student engagement and learning resulting from otherwise equivalent tutorials that take such different approaches?
What you call it matters
Houtman noted that graduates were attracted to her workshop series when it was titled “Essential Research Skills” instead of “Core Library Skills” (and not advertised as pitched to undergraduates). Graduates’ presence was noted to have affected the dynamic of classes. Yet Houtman did not characterise that effect, which led her team to consider separating audiences for future series. I also wonder whether students from different levels offered different feedback, particularly as to the relevance and pitch of the classes.
*Houtman eventually sees reflection as more central than wrapping.
**I love that Houtman’s concludes with intent to clarify the purpose of her classes and “be more explicit about the ‘so what'”.
Activities in online resources to model self-regulated learning
Results from a rough search show early interest in how activities to model self-regulated learning could be incorporated into online resources. Loch and McLoughlin (2011) seemed to be talking (hypothetically) about incorporating the activities within screencasts. Rowe and Rafferty (2013) looked at post-viewing quizzes in the LMS.
But as yet no post-implementation testing. Points of curiosity: can activities be added for positive impact, without irritating students?