I have had an interesting week for reflection and analysis. A few days ago, I presented what was supposed to be a half hour talk on using the library catalogue and accessing journals to a group of first year early childhood students. I took almost an hour. Lesson right there- stick to a time limit. Before I get into my reflection on this, I feel the need to defend my time-burgling. It is impossible to explain how to access materials in the library in a half hour. Let me rephrase that- it is impossible if you expect the students to get anything out of it, i.e. the skills to be able to access the information in the future for themselves. This is where I begin to care too much about what I do. It likely sounds as though I’m giving myself accolades, but there is no other way to describe it. I don’t want to just “give a talk to students about the library.” Our website can do that. I want the students to be able to have an experience they remember and can apply. I know I’m not doing anything revolutionary or life-changing for the students- I’m merely doing what all librarians do. I suppose my fear is that I will go to a classroom and talk to students about our services/resources, but within a month, when the student need to use the information, they’ll tell someone on the Help Desk that they “had a talk by someone from the library” but can’t remember anything. That means I’ve failed.
Getting back to the point, however. I decided to employ the use of the plus, delta system in order to get feedback from the students. The idea came from an ELIME webinar I “attended” a few months back. I like the plus, delta model because it seems positive. Instead of asking students to rate my performance or their knowledge on a Lickert scale, I find giving the option for an open answer more realistic and compatible to student attitudes about taking surveys. I asked the students to jot down something they did not understand before my session, and now have a grasp on. In the delta section, I asked them to write down something they were still unclear about, and, if they wanted me to get back to them with an answer, to include their email. Here is an example of the responses I received.
Surprisingly, there were only a handful of entries on the delta side of the paper. Honestly, it was a little disappointing to me that there were so few entries. I know that I did not explain everything to a degree that there would be no further questions. It is at this point where I must consider whether there were questions that students were hesitant to ask, whether they were too lazy to ask, or even if they were unaware that they didn’t know something. I can’t remember the term for that- when you are unaware of what you don’t know. Since typing that last sentence, I have spent fifteen minutes looking for the philosophical theory related to the idea of ignorance being bliss. Again, that is the burden of being inside my head.
Without any more distractions: The students who did provide an entry for the delta section of the handout- they all said Refworks. That is not entirely surprising, as I was explicit about not going into RefWorks and, instead, offered to provide a session to the group at a later date. That reminds me, I must follow up on that!
Overall, the presentation I gave went well. There were two slides that I decided were not particularly clear when used in the classroom, as well as one spelling error (how embarrassing!). I realized that I should be prepared with a bottle of water the next time I present to a group. i forget that I spend most of the day NOT talking- so when I’m using my voice for over 20 minutes, I need a drink. I suppose that is a classic error people make when addressing a group- it is something I will most definitely remember for the next session. I felt more at ease in the setting I was in with the group- I had room to move around and took a break from my presentation to answer questions- including minimizing the powerpoint and pulling up the library website, going off-script. I know that the entire audience was not captivated by my session, but I was happy to answer questions and felt confident about doing so.
In general, i am very much beginning to ease into a style of leading sessions. I have a long way to go though!
I should also mention that I’ve had a nice spark to propel me into continuing my work on the information literacy strategy. I’ve drafted a good portion of the work I scheduled myself to complete and have been taking a closer look at our goals and objectives at the library and the university. I am very exciting about this project and look forward to completing it within the next month or so. From there, I will start working on the assignment tool kit.
One more thing before I go- I am so excited about March! I have my visit to London Met, the LILAC convention in Manchester and several webinars. I have also registered for two day-long sessions in London on Digital Preservation and Searching for resources in the social sciences. How lucky I am to be encouraged by my organisation!