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Tag Archives: Instruction
We had a great turnout today for the brainstorming session for methods for teaching Bearcat Search effectively in different teaching contexts. Thanks to everyone who came for your contributions.
We covered a lot of topics related to Bearcat Search, such as:
- conveying to students what can be (and maybe more importantly, what can’t be) found in Bearcat Search
- comparing it to Google
- better ways to offer help and documentation about Bearcat Search (and where to place a link to documentation)
- naming issues (is it still worth calling it Bearcat Search if it you are getting it to via the “Articles” search box on the library home page?)
- how the use of quotes to force a phrase search affects the relevancy and ranking algorithms
- dealing with the flood of newspapers articles
- whether advanced searches are generally advisable (probably not)
- if the “Articles” search is ever being used in internal pages on the library site that feature the yellow search bar
- how to contribute to our shared understanding of Bearcat Search by adding content, questions, comments to the page about Bearcat Search in the Library Services Wiki
We ended up talking about a lot of usability and design issues as well:
- the bento box display of search results that some libraries, such as North Carolina State University, present to users who run searches in the single search box on the library home page
- how we can use our credit courses as sites for usability testing
- ways to tweak the layout of the yellow search bar
There is an interesting column by Meredith Farkas in American Libraries about the approach that the University of Arizona is taking with database tutorials, which they call “Guide on the Side.” Basically, you get a slick looking tutorial right next to the database interface. This approach has been tried in the past at other colleges using frames to put the tutorial and database next to each other, but the design constraints of the past meant wonky vertical and horizontal scroll bars across the page. The U of AZ solution looks better.
It’s my understanding that the University of Arizona be releasing the software this summer that will enable libraries to make their own local versions of these tutorials. I was thinking these might be useful for us if we are trying to create some online instructional content that we might otherwise try to do in the classroom. I realize that these tutorials only hit the traditional, tool-based kind of instruction (click here, type that there, etc.), but it’s worth thinking about whether these play help a supporting role in our online instructional efforts.
Stephen Francoeur, Ellen Kaufman, Louise Klusek, Rita Ormsby, Mike Waldman
Attendees were asked to come to today’s meeting with something related to search (a new search engine, a new search feature or interface, an article or blog post about search, etc.)
Guide to Searching
We looked at a video tutorial and companion website from the library at the University of Massey (NZ) that walked users through the basics of search. We liked the website’s screenshot and the way the video had a table of contents that let you jump head to a specific section.
The library at the New York Law School has a search tool called DRAGNET that lets you find laws and other legal materials on various free legal databases. It was built using Google Custom Search. More details about how the service was put together can be found on this ACRL page. We wondered what it would be like to do something like this ourselves that searched a collection of open business-related databases on the web. We also talked about the plans for the Law.gov website, which are underway and will assemble a free resource of the nation’s laws.
One Search Boxes on Library Websites
Following up the discussion of search tools built with Google Custom Search, we looked at a Jamun, project being developed by the Leddy Library at the University of Windsor by Art Rhyno and Mita Williams. This tool will offer users a single box that searches across a number of different key resources. We also looked at the single search box (QuickSearch) that the library site at North Carolina State University features. We tried a bunch of different searches to see what comes up (notes of our searches didn’t get recorded, but you can try this one for “market share honda” as a useful example).
A Model for Teaching Search
We talked about librarian Iris Jastram’s model for teaching search, which she calls “exploding an article” and outlines in this blog post at Pegasus Librarian. In the classroom, students are introduced to the concept of being able to take one scholarly article that is relevant to them and use it to move in different directions to find others like it:
- using Web of Science, you can move forward in time by looking for articles that have cited the one in hand
- using the bibliography in the article, you can move back in time by tracking down the sources that the author used
- using key terms in the article or in the descriptors for that article in a database, you can move to the sides to find articles that are about the same things
We looked at a draft of a Newman Library toolbar that was built using the free LibX service. The toolbar features a search box for the library catalog, for the e-journals lookup tool, and for Bearcat. It also turns ISBNs, ISSNs, and DOIs into clickable links that will run lookups in relevant search tools from the library. Finally, it places an icon on the pages describing books in Amazon and other online booksellers; when the icon is clicked, the toolbar runs a search for that item in our catalog. This toolbar for our library is still being finished up and will be available soon.
I’m really excited by a project that the Writing Center is working on and that was previewed at today’s Teaching and Technology Conference. Keri Bertino and a student employee at the Writing Center have been editing a series of videotaped interviews they conducted with faculty members. In the interviews, the faculty members explain what research looks like in their discipline and talk about a specific exemplary work. Each faculty member answered a series of questions posed by the interviewers:
- Why do people write in your field?
- What kinds of questions are writers in your field trying to answer with their writing?
- What is the format or organization of a typical article in your field?
- What citation style does your field usually use?
- How is an argument usually introduced in writing in your field?
- How is that argument usually developed?
- What kind of evidence or research is used in your field?
- How is this evidence, research, or data used?
- How is previous scholarship and research used in writing in your field?
- How might a writer in your field address existing or potential conflicting theories or arguments?
- What kind of “voice” is appropriate to writing in your field?
- How might it be appropriate to insert the author’s point of view or experience into this writing?
- Are there any other characteristics or qualities of writing that seem typical of your field?
- What do you want a student to do and to learn when you ask them to write in your field?
- As they prepare to write, what questions should students ask themselves?
- What difficulties did you first encounter when writing in this field?
Once the videos are edited, they will be posted on the Writing Center website. I can imagine that these interviews could be really useful in our instructional efforts, as we try to help students understand what research really is in all its academic varieties. To give you a better sense of what this project is about, you may want to check out this teaser video made by Keri Bertino and her assistant in preparation for the presentation at today’s conference.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/B4rFKgYComA" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
A second video pulls together a sample of the responses that faculty gave to the questions and offers a nice preview of what the final videos will look like.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/5CrGWG8FrBU" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
This afternoon, using the Google Search Stories service I spent all of 5 minutes putting together this video on open access. I’m wondering if there might be an interesting and fun classroom activity to do with students that has them using this service.
Eric Frierson, a librarian at UT Arlington, mentioned in a blog post recently his library’s efforts to augment databases with sidebars offering assistance. The help provided on the side of this version of ERIC includes an embedded video from Frierson, who, as the education librarian, asks anyone who needs help to contact him or to contact a librarian using the embedded chat widget below the video. The sidebar also provides links to relevant videos:
- “Bad results?” This video teaches you basics of Boolean searching.
- “Where’s the PDF?” Shows you how to use the link resolver button (SFX).
- “I need peer-reviewed.” Demonstrates how to limit results for peer-reviewed articles.
- “How do I cite it?” Explains citation styles.
It’s not clear to me where on the library website you can find these “assisted databases” (as Frierson calls them) or how many augmented interfaces they’ve done for other databases. Still, it’s a very intriguing way to provide instruction at the point of need (on the same page as the search boxes).
Frierson, Eric. “Are We Marketing Well?” live wire librarian, 20 October 2009. Web.
InsideHigherEd has just given Mary George, a reference librarian at Princeton University, a blog on their web site. Titled Keywords from a Librarian, the blog features an initial post in which George explains:
Teaching faculty have immense persuasive power; we librarians do not. What we do have are sweeping views of what scholars are up to, a grasp of how researchers do their business and what evidence ensues, and a knack for identifying and locating that evidence. By and large faculty and academic librarians respect one another’s expertise and collaborate happily. But where and how do our apprentices-either undergraduates or graduate students – learn the process and logic of source seeking? That is the question that haunts me and inspires this blog.
George, Mary. “An Introduction.” Keywords from a Librarian. InsideHigherEd, 18 August 2009. Web.
There’s a terrific post today by Carrie Donovan on the blog, In the Library with the Lead Pipe, in which she discusses the role of authenticity in teaching.
Donovan, Carrie. “Sense of Self: Embracing Your Teacher Identity.” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, 19 August 2009. Web.