Teaching Research in FTS and 100 Level Courses

Students Views of the Library:
For most incoming students, the Gustavus library is the largest library they've ever used, and for almost all of them the organization of any academic library, with its myriad of online and print resources, is daunting. Furthermore, students new to college have little idea how to find, choose, and use academic sources in academic forms of discourse.? Additionally, many remained unconvinced that they need to use the library when they are often able to find information online. Students also struggle to find their footing when facing academic literature for the first time; having them work with academic literature without enough can be overly frustrating.

Library Goals for First Year Students
Our assessment plan (pdf) outlines goals for all students, including first year students.? Essentially, we believe that research revolves around conversation.? In most fields, scholars and practitioners converse through traditional and nontraditional formats.? Our goal for students - and the mark of a fully information fluent individual ? is to recognize that these conversation exist, to access the conversation through best utilizing appropriate research skills and tools, and to become well-versed in the conversation so that ultimately they can participate meaningfully in the conversation.

Essentially, the first year is the time to lay the foundation for lifelong learning skills. ?In first year students (and for all students in 100 level classes, even if they are not first year students), we want them to develop the habits of mind that will motivate them to access and evaluate the conversation on a given topic.

Strategies for Developing Research Habits of Mind:
Some of these activities are work well as part of a library session while others work great led by you in the classroom.? Mix & match or try them all:

  • Entering the Conversation:
    • Burke?s Parlor Tricks - Help students understand the concept of research as conversation by helping them "eavesdrop" on scholarly conversations in the discipline. Emphasize the unique vocabularly they might encounter while doing research & help them figure out how to uncode it
    • Assign students to visit with one of their other professors during office hours to discuss the disciplinary conversations happening in that professor's main field of study.
    • Brainstorm ways to gain overviews of topics & research questions, such as read up in Wikipedia or an encyclopedia, talk to one of their professors in the field or talk to a librarian about ways of gaining familiarity with a topic
  • Exploring Conversational Formats
    • Spend a day in class unpacking a scholarly article, focusing especially on the cues you use to navigate the article (identify thesis, purpose of literature review, etc.)
    • Examine examples of popular & scholarly publications and discuss differences, purpose and ways of evaluating them. This works well in a library session, too.
  • Participating in the Conversation
    • Consider formats other than a traditional research paper, such as having students prepare for a debate on a specific topic

Any of our librarians would be happy to discuss strategies and approaches in greater detail, whether you are planning a formal library session or not.

The library has links to additional resources, as well:

Thinking…