Monthly Archives: June 2014

New Digital Scholar

 

New-Digital-Scholar-Social

If you’re an instructional librarian or teach writing and/or research skills, you’re going to want to get your hands on a copy of The New Digital Scholar: Exploring and Enriching the Research and Writing Practices of NextGen Students edited by Randall McClure and James Purdy. Despite the buzzwordy title, this book is full of essays that explore the intersection of writing and research for undergraduate students. With a balance of theoretical and practical ideas to think about, it is an invaluable resource for people who work to engage undergraduates in meaningful fact-and-logic-based writing. I particularly enjoyed Can I Google That? Research Strategies of Undergraduate Students by Mary Lourdes Silva and Re-Envisioning Research: Alternative Approaches to Engaging NextGen Students by Rachel A. Milloy. Both lean towards practicality but show evidence of deep, methodical thinking. This is exactly the kind of work that easily pairs with the foundational writing assessment committee I’ve participated in for the last two years. Highly recommended.

First Year Seminar update

 

Here’s what my current process for planning my FYS class looks like. Merging two ideas in the comments from Kristin and Ilana, I have created a giant post-it note calendar of the semester. In the process, I learned that our weeks during the semester actually run Wednesday-Wednesday with the last Wednesday being a Monday. My head hurt a bit thinking this through and I scrapped my first plan to number the weeks. Who needs it when we already have a lovely, lovely calendar where Wednesday is always in the middle of the week and never rearranged?

Obviously, this wall-based approach wouldn’t work for planning multiple classes, but it’s working for me now. I have a rough sketch of crucial assignments, outings, and special lectures in place. Now it’s a matter of filling in the blanks with the slightly more mundane, day-to-day class stuff – readings and discussions, building and scaffolding.

I found that library instruction was one of the last pieces to fall into place for me. This class needs intentional structuring for library instruction to be really useful. If I had trouble envisioning where library instruction fits, I’m sure others do too. I’m wondering how I might help FYS instructors create meaningful assignments that address the required library instruction component. We typically do a lecture about evaluating information for FYS, although we change it up on request. Some instructors choose to include a debate for their final project, which is a natural fit for discussions about quality of information. Others do a “Global Journeys” project to help connect students to the world at large. Still others choose to go a completely different path. I will be contacting other FYS professors to see how we might work together to make the library instruction really useful.

The texts I’ve chosen are A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, a classic for FYS here in the ADKs and an excellent text for helping students connect to a very forested place, and An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Col. Chris Hadfield, which, besides being just fascinating, will provide some concrete examples of life skills in action. I’m also planning to use some exercises from Gamestorming by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo to help open the class and bring everything together at the end.

In the mean time, I’m also considering tweaks to our current FYS library instruction. What do you do for instruction in first year classes?