On Saturday, the PGCert and MEd cohorts had a “live” study day at Speirs Locks. We talked about ethics and forms of questioning, and about sourcing reading material, and citing it.
Questions of ethics are a new area for me. Really, ethics feature more in the social sciences; they hardly crop up at all when the subjects of your research are not only very, very historical, but their descendants- if traceable – are usually flattered that you’re researching their ancestors!
Forms of questioning? Well, it made me think about my research project, because I’m beginning to think I’ll need to use several modes of information-gathering.
- Draw on anonymous library surveys already done
- Use Survey Monkey – probably surveying the students in my own cohort, because they will appreciate what I’m doing (and why), and will also have a vested interest in anything I can organise to help them with their own research efforts!
- A few short interviews. If – at the end of my Survey Monkey survey – I can ask whether respondents consider themselves “highly techie”, “moderately comfortable with online technologies”, “quite uncomfortable” or “tech-averse”, then hopefully I could conduct interviews with one or two of each.
When it came to discussing sources of information and referencing, though, I quickly found myself halfway between teacher and student, because librarians really do have a head-start in this field. We had some interesting conversations – and it became quite clear that if students don’t initially have a satisfactory experience, they’ll quickly look elsewhere, or use Google/Google Scholar, or beg assistance from a friend at another institution.
My concern, therefore, is that students should learn how to use what we have, even allowing for the fact that our syndicated subscriptions do mean we have patchy coverage of some e-resources. If a publisher allows the SHEDL group full access to certain journals but not others, or certain years, then it can be a frustrating experience for the reader. We can’t avoid that, but we can try to ensure that students know what they’re doing so they won’t fail at the first login request.
It would be lovely to go to Waterstones with each student and their tablet/laptop, to help them practise logging in from outwith the Conservatoire. Sadly, there aren’t enough of us library staff to do that! (Nice idea, though …. I wonder if it would be feasible with groups of students? But then again, distance learners aren’t all local and certainly aren’t all around during office hours. Ho-hum … )
It’s always good to get together with the rest of the cohort, though. It helps make our studies feel “real”. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that you’re doing a certificated course, unless you meet the others and talk about common interests.