Changing the way we do things…
Previously with our first year undergraduates we have had a one hour introductory lecture to research skills. This lecture has never really worked well for me – I felt it was not interactive enough and that it was very dry…however, I persevered.
This year, I couldn’t get the lecture timetabled for two of my courses – the usual packed timetable for Level 4’s couldn’t accommodate me. However, the students need this input before they come to the workshops in order to have some context in which to work.
So, I decided to turn the one hour lecture into two short videos: the first about searching for information and the second about evaluation, information management and referencing. These would then be sent to students a week prior to the workshops with the instruction to watch them. Below are some of the responses I had in the workshop evaluation, to a specific question on their learning outcomes:
Level 4 responses to workshop – some examples
What is the most important thing you have learned today?
- Useful information on how to refine searches effectively and efficiently. Also, clearer understanding as to how referencing should be practiced.
- The important thing I have learnt has to be knowing where to find hidden articles and journals for my modules/course and also having knowledge to reference.
- Being shown how to use ” and * in the search box to help find as many primary and secondary sources as possible to help with assignments.
- How to search a database to find accurate resources
- How to search through databases and find journals and books
- how to find the resources for my course
- How to search a database properly
- How to refine searches and search for specific phrases and truncations.
- How to find appropriate literature for my course.
These comments highlight how important it is for our students to have these skills. They will go out into practice and need to use these skills to make clinical decisions and find evidence-based practice to make these decisions with.
I found that providing them with introductory videos before the session worked really well – I had the academic tutor’s support and reinforcement that they adhere to the ‘flipped classroom’ approach, which helped. We could then focus on applying the knowledge they had gained from watching the videos to their assignment topics.
With the positive comments I received, I will definitely be using this approach this year with all of my first years. I plan to develop the videos a bit more (we use camtasia) to include our new look interface for Library Gateway, so that students are familiar with the functionality before they attend the workshops. Watch this space…