There was a meeting to discuss information use and evaluation and support for first year undergraduates on 28 June. This is an outline of the key issues raised and some of the suggested ways in which they may be tackled.
Negative feedback after being given tasks involving reading articles, especially in the mid-module review
There seemed to be a lot of separate issues at play here. These involved the module being run in a big blocks of hours over one day of the week and typically being taught out of the usual weekday hours, as well as it being a first year module with a lot of worry amongst the students about getting to grips with study in HE.
Suggested way forward
The way forward to be trialled is to ask more specific questions about the reading that has been assigned, and to show how that helps answer seminar or assignment questions. This can be facilitated by the new reading list software which allows academics to put their own notes/questions next to the article/extract details, with a direct link to the content. This approach is already taken in many ways, but having all resources and questions in one place online, to be viewed again at the student’s own pace, is a new addition.
Lack of use of recommended readings in assignments, despite students being prompted to look at it every week
Reading lists for the module content were being pointed out at every session, but when it came to writing the assignments, nearly all of the students used none of the recommended reading. However, they did use the readings to answer seminar questions, week by week.
Suggested way forward
Taking the suggestion above, using reading lists, one step further. Putting notes in the reading list that give pointers that link to the assignment brief and reminding of these. Also emphasising evaluation techniques, so that if students do choose to use their own sources (which should not be discouraged), they have some tools to evaluate them for academic purposes. A group annotated bibliography was also suggested as a possible formative assessment which could aid critical use of sources and help understand the different viewpoints in them. Clare recommends using RefWorks for this and will post guidance on here before the start of semester 1 to that end.
Moodle information overload with too much administrative guidance mixed in with module academic content
TEL are working on a new Moodle template – once this is out, it will be interesting to see if this issue remains.
- All Academic Liaison Librarians are willing and happy to work with academics on module design. So, if you have learning outcomes which link to information use and evaluation, we can help design activities, input and assignments that weave throughout the module (delivered by the module tutors, or the ALLs, whichever is most appropriate).
- Group annotated bibliography assignments seem to be a popular way forward for introducing resource use and evaluation, with the perspective of each student taken into account by a larger group. This is possible to facilitate on the RefWorks platform (and would also help introduce reference management). Clare will post guidance here over the summer.
- The little and often approach to information literacy, but situated in the subject area and modules, is a favoured approach. From simple things such as holding off handing out referencing guides until the first assignment is underway, to third year modules where each seminar is taken by students, using resources they have sourced and evaluated (supported by module team and academic liaison librarian), embedding approaches in module and programme design is seen as preferable in most cases.