I went to the IAML UK and Ireland Annual Study Weekend in Cambridge last weekend. (That’s the International Association of Music Libraries, UK and Ireland branch). We began with an academic music librarians’ seminar, and I was the first speaker. I talked about our course! (I had spent much of my annual leave doing my teaching plan and theoretical study, so that I would be able to talk about it at this seminar.) Unbeknown to me, another librarian there made a Storify page about the session, so here we are for all the world to see! I think you’ll agree I must have said the right things, to judge by the way Edith reported it.
I’ve embedded my Word document, but I am not very confident that it will look presentable in blog form. Here goes … (You can follow comments from our shared space by clicking HERE.)
SAMPLE LESSON PLAN TEMPLATE
CLASS DETAILS (adapt headings in this section to suit your learning / teaching context)
LESSON DETAILS/ PLANNED ACTIVITIES:
* Your Lesson structure should include:
Time to introduce tasks/activities to the group
Time for students to engage in the activities (either independently, or in groups).
Time for formative assessment/feedback (to check learning and understanding).
Time to link lesson to other activities and time to set out any independent learning tasks learners are expected to engage in before your next session with them.
THEORETICAL ACCOUNT KAREN MCAULAY SESSION ON RESEARCH & BIBLIOGRAPHIC SKILLS (click here for comments on MySite – our Teaching Artist collaborative space )
I have been asked to provide an hour’s instruction on research and bibliographic skills to the research students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, on Monday 19th May between 6-7 pm in the Research Lab. Having provided this training for several years running, I have free rein within the broad subject area, but my challenge is to attempt to make the session more interactive, and more aligned with best pedagogical practice. The seminar is one of a series of evening events run for our research community. Lectures by visiting speakers are public, and thrown open to all Conservatoire staff and students, but mine is more by way of practical advice to students engaged in doctoral research, and is not offered to the wider community. It is stand-alone, insofar as it does not fit into a formal curriculum or structured series of classes. Additional challenges are the unknown variables of student numbers; their experience and/or expertise in the topic; and the absence of any form of assessment.
There are a couple of permanently networked PCs in the research lab, and individual students often have their own laptops, so there will web access during the seminar, facilitating some hands-on exploration of tools that the students may not yet have encountered.
National Policies and Strategies impacting on Learning and Teaching
Instructors in the Conservatoire are guided by the legislative framework set forth by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) for all Higher Education Institutions, viz the UK Quality Code for Higher Education. (Quality Assurance Agency, 2013) Of particular interest is Part B, ‘Assuring and enhancing academic quality’, where Chapter B4 is devoted to, ‘Enabling student development and achievement’. Taking responsibility for their own learning, and making effective use of available services and resources are specifically highlighted, and my seminar is intended to help research students achieve this.
I am also informed by the Vitae Researcher Development Framework, (Vitae, 2014) which articulates four specific zones in which doctoral students are expected to gain competence, irrespective of their subject:-
• (A) Knowledge and intellectual abilities;
• (B) Personal Effectiveness;
• (C) Research governance and organisation;
• (D) Engagement, influence and impact.
Each area is further subdivided into three specific capacities. Research and bibliographic skills are obviously essential, particularly in the first two areas. Information seeking and information literacy are explicitly listed under (A); and research management under (C).
Teaching and Learning Theories and Intended Learning Outcomes
Edwards et al remind us that learning takes place in different formal and informal contexts, particularly in the context of today’s enthusiasm for lifelong learning (Edwards, 2009). We can imagine the learning context as being various strata, or levels, and it follows that learning can be formal or informal (along a continuum), personal or in an educational system, and perhaps situated in communities of practice. My session, whilst in the context of a traditional seminar, is predicated upon the assumption that students will continue informal, independent practice in the use of citation conventions, and will experiment with bibliographic management systems until they choose the one that best suits their needs, since their final written output will require competence in both citation and bibliography-building. I am thus teaching skills that will ultimately be absorbed and assimilated into daily practice. Furthermore, some bibliographic software can be used collaboratively (rather like Dropbox or a wiki), so a bibliography could technically be compiled by a group of researchers, thereby enabling them to incorporate it into their community of practice.
In my efforts to make my teaching more interactive, encouraging students to participate in the session and form their own opinions on the methodologies I introduce, I find John Biggs’ theories on constructive alignment have particular resonance (Biggs, 2003). My teaching and learning activities (TLAs) must be designed in such a way that students attain the intended learning outcomes (ILOs); Biggs remarks that, ‘The learner finds it difficult to escape without learning appropriately’ (ibid).
Since this session is free-standing and perforce lacks context, one of the ways by which I hope to surmount this is by emailing the research student community in advance of the seminar, advising them of the topics I shall be covering, and inviting them to come prepared to discuss web applications and methodologies that they have already encountered. I think that my teaching to date may have been rather too didactic (perhaps influenced by the behaviourist tradition, but on a more prosaic level, because of the era I grew up in), but I am determined to adopt a more cognitive approach by trying to follow Biggs’ methodology, aims and objectives, getting students to think for themselves more, thereby guiding them as they reach their own conclusions and form their own opinions about the topics I’m introducing.
In the seminar itself, I am considering two different approaches depending on the number of students present. I shall introduce the subject (databases and sourcing research material; and matters relating to bibliographic citation), and then if there are enough students present, I shall divide them into pairs to discuss both aspects, bringing the group back together to consolidate the discussion. If there are insufficient numbers, this will have to be a group discussion throughout, but I would then have to take care to separate both topics in the early part of the discussion, before the summing up. In either event, I would urge students to use the networked pcs to visit the websites that I had highlighted, either to show one another sites that they already used, or to look at unfamiliar sites. I believe the hands-on element to be very important, as such experimentation and personal experience will enhance the knowledge retention. Moreover, curiosity will hopefully inspire attendees to search for subject matter relevant to their own research. My own contributions as instructor will also, following constructivist theory, provide scaffolding to support their learning, by providing context and drawing threads together. (Mayes, 2004)
Biggs introduces four distinct steps in the design of the teaching session, namely (op. cit.):-
1 Defining the intended learning outcomes (ILOs)
2 Choosing teaching/learning activities likely to lead to the ILOs
3 Assessing students’ actual learning outcomes […]
4 Arriving at a final grade
In the present context, the first two steps are crucial, but there will be no formal assessment and no final grade. Nonetheless, it is my intention to follow up by emailing those present, to establish whether they found the session helpful, and whether there are any further questions on the resources introduced, or requests for other topics to be covered.
My definition of the ILOs will be informed by a table shared by the UK Centre for Legal Education on the Higher Education Academy: ‘Writing learning objectives using Bloom’s taxonomy’ (Higher Education Academy, 2010). Bloom divided learning into cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains, each further divided into stages of increasing complexity. I do not consider the psychomotor domain to have much relevance in my session; indeed, Alan Chapman notes that Bloom himself did less research into this domain. Chapman suggests that Bloom felt the academic environment was not as well-situated to research the acquisition of manual and physical skills. (Chapman, 2009)
Nonetheless, in terms of the cognitive domain, it is clear that I want the students to know, understand and be able to apply some of the techniques I introduce, hopefully being able in time if not to analyse, then at least to be able to compare the techniques with some discernment.
A summary of my ILOs, taking this approach, would therefore be the following:-
• You will know about some of the key databases and websites for gathering information pertinent to your research
• You will appreciate the differing kinds of information available from these sources
• You will be inspired to apply some of these search techniques in your research over the coming weeks and months
• You will in time develop informed opinions as to which methodologies are most useful in your field of research
• You will know some of the different ways of maintaining your bibliography
• You will know which citation conventions are generally used at the Conservatoire
• You will understand the importance of accurate citation following a single convention.
Research resources and bibliographic citation
• You will appreciate the importance of gaining these research capabilities, which not only prepare you for a possible future academic career, but also contribute to employability skills in the wider sense.
BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR THIS THEORETICAL SURVEY
Biggs, J. (2003). ‘Aligning teaching for constructing learning‘. Higher Education Academy Resources Centre. Retrieved April 07, 2014, from http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/documents/resources/database/id477_aligning_teaching_for_constructing_learning.pdf
Chapman, A. (2009). bloom’s taxonomy of learning domains – bloom’s learning model, for teaching, lesson plans, training cousres design planning and evaluation. Businessballs.com website. Retrieved April 07, 2014, from http://www.businessballs.com/bloomstaxonomyoflearningdomains.htm
Edwards, R. (2009). Edwards, Richard; Biesta, Gert and Thorpe, Mary eds. (2009). Rethinking contexts for learning and teaching: Communities, activities and networks. London, UK: Routledge. web abstract. Retrieved April 07, 2014, from http://oro.open.ac.uk/17118/
Higher Education Academy. (2010). “Writing learning objectives using Bloom”s taxonomy‘, June 2010. Higher Education Academy Resources Centre. Retrieved from http://www.ukcle.ac.uk/resources/personal-development-planning/table/
Mayes, T. & S. de F. (2004). JISC e-Learning Models Desk Study. Stage 2, Review of e-learning theories, frameworks and models (43 pages, from Issue 1.). JISC study. Retrieved April 07, 2014, from http://inspire.rcs.ac.uk/pluginfile.php?file=%2F15047%2Fmod_resource%2Fcontent%2F1%2FReview of e-learning theories%2C.pdf
Quality Assurance Agency. (2013). The Quality Code. Retrieved from http://www.qaa.ac.uk/AssuringStandardsAndQuality/quality-code/Pages/default.aspx
Vitae. (2014). About the Vitae Researcher Development Framework. Retrieved from https://www.vitae.ac.uk/researchers-professional-development/about-the-vitae-researcher-development-framework
NB This bibliography and all references are compiled using Mendeley, which is the bibliographic citation tool I recommend!
(click here for comments on MySite – our Teaching Artist collaborative space )
Context: Library or Classroom-based, but not formally assessed
Looking at my own practice, I am trying to think about the context in which ‘my’ students are learning. This has always been slightly problematical in library teaching, because attendance is not mandatory. Until a couple of years ago, new students had a tour of the library and a hands-on demonstration of how to use the catalogue. A lecture was also provided for music students, to introduce them to key e-resources, such as Oxford Music Online (the world’s most prestigious music encyclopedia) and the streamed music services. (There are also a number of leaflets offering guidance to different aspects of the library service.)
Realising that for most students, this was too much, too soon, the library induction package was un-packed, so that new students got a basic library tour in the first week, and then we liaised with course-leaders to provide more detailed, tailored instruction later. The theory behind this was that students would be better able to take in what they were being shown, if it wasn’t all thrown at them at once; and when they were beginning to need more resources, they’d be more motivated to come and listen.
Some course-leaders were admirably pro-active, whilst others didn’t take up the offer, or provided informal tours of their own, quietly ignoring the e-resources offer. Moreover, we have no control over whether individual students attend or not. The context, then, is basically on-site provision of training (we’ve no way of knowing whether students found their way to the Moodle podcast that Gordon made for us a couple of years ago), but without the formality of a fully academically endorsed (or assessed) course component. We get the impression that library induction and training is viewed by the students as “not really part of the course”, and “not really necessary”.
With the seminars I provide for research students, it’s a smaller group. Students are encouraged to attend, but are not always available to attend on the day/time allotted by Research Dept staff. However, those that do attend are always keen to participate and share their opinion, so although it’s still not mandatory, there’s more enthusiasm and appreciation! By this stage, students have realised that proper academic discourse requires them to read widely and cite correctly, so there’s an awareness that the instruction I provide may be useful to them as they write their dissertation. (Also, strangely, there’s respect for me amongst researchers who know I’ve ‘been there’ and am now engaged on postdoctoral work, whereas I guess undergraduates perceive me as ‘just a librarian’, and not to be taken as seriously as their tutors. Librarians universally hate their fuddy-duddy stereotype!)
So, what positive changes could I make? For new students, I still think the library tour is worthwhile. It’s quick and cheerful, and just tries to convey the most basic information about the library, but more importantly, it introduces students to the subject librarians. For the more detailed e-resource instruction, I still think these resources need to be demonstrated, much as an experiment might be demonstrated in a science lab. By way of a parallel, you don’t say, “here’s a bunsen burner and few chemicals, do try them out!”, but after demonstrating them, pupils might then try them out under supervision. Similarly, our new undergraduates need to be shown WHAT is available and how they work, and then invited to try them. Unless each entire class of new students is allocated time in the IT suite, though, we have to content ourselves with telling them about the resources, giving the handouts, and hoping that some of the information will be remembered.
I’m beginning to wonder if there might be any mileage in emailing student groups later, to follow up the session and get some kind of feed-back. I am uncertain about mounting quizzes etc, because not many students will do a quiz that is not part of their assessed work. (Backwash, as Biggs says.) How does one constructively align teaching that is not assessed, but regarded as supplementary and optional? One is informing the students about what is on offer, and directly pointing out resources that are likely to be useful. Tasks can’t be set for later submission – it is all rather frustrating!
With the research students, there are fewer individuals, and the direct email follow-up might be even more effective. I could also use social media, though I’d first have to persuade students to “follow” the library on Twitter, or subscribe to the Whittaker Live blog. Only two people have ever bothered to subscribe (though the blog has plenty of drop-in traffic) – this doesn’t look a very effective way of getting targeted information to them. I would need more advice before I ventured to start discussion on Moodle or Mahara. It seems a sensible idea, but if research students don’t “hang out” there, then it wouldn’t have much practical effect. our Teaching Artist collaborative space works so well that it would be great if all the research students had a space like this of their own. Maybe Marius could advise me if they do?
The University of Florida. Center for Instructional Technology & Training, ‘Gagné’s 9 Events of Instruction‘ (from Robert Gagné’s 1965 book, The Conditions of Learning)
This is a useful list of the nine events of instruction, based on the ‘information processing model’. It is described on our Moodle page as ‘a behaviourist model which also draws from the cognitive approach.’ It seems very logical, though perhaps less interactive than other approaches I’ve been reading about. In my own context, I have difficulty with some of the nine events – not a theoretical difficulty, but a difficulty in their application, as I shall explore herewith.
I would instinctively begin by telling a class what I was going to be talking about with them. In a library context, this would tend to be along the lines of, “help you to use the catalogue more effectively so you can find the materials you need for your studies”; “give you an oversight of the many electronic resources available to you here in RCS, and help you decide which might be most useful to you”; or – for my postgraduate researchers, “help you to work out an effective strategy to keep on top of your citations and bibliography,” in the context of the bundle of useful transferable skills that a doctoral student can be expected to acquire. There’s a very useful website called Vitae (realising the potential of researchers), from which I use their Vitae Researcher Development Framework as the broad context for my work.
Stimulating recall of prior learning is not quite so easy when you’re giving one-off classes. The best one can do is to prompt contributions from individual students about how they themselves have, for example, kept on top of their bibliographical references – or relate my cautionary tale of the girl who had a great quotation, with no idea where it came from, and see if anyone else has any other ‘dissertation nightmares’ that they’re brave enough to share.
As I’ve mentioned earlier today, I am hoping to invite students to come ready to share with their peers any ‘good practice’ of their own, so although I’ll obviously be presenting content (step 4), I am hoping not to stand delivering a monologue. ‘Learning guidance’ (5) in this context will entail demonstrating some key tools. In an hour, I hadn’t envisaged offering hands-on experience (6), which couldn’t be done in much depth. I plan for the session to be more one of shared experience, than a computer-based workshop.
As a consequence, Gagne’s events 7 and 8 are not quite applicable to my purposes. Instead of providing feedback and assessing performance, I would prefer to initiate a discussion, summing up some of the conclusions we’d reached, and encouraging students to come and see me individually if they wanted to explore any particular aspect or technique in greater depth. I would then follow up a day or two later with an email asking if the session had been helpful; if there were any points I could clarify or expand upon; or any suggestions for future sessions. This would be how I interpret event 9, since ‘enhance retention and transfer to the job’, whilst desirable, is something I have little control over.
Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction
Inform learners of objectives
Stimulate recall of prior learning
Present the content
Provide “learning guidance”
Elicit performance (practice).
Enhance retention and transfer to the job
Chapman, Alan – bloom’s taxonomy – learning domains
http://www.businessballs.com/bloomstaxonomyoflearningdomains.htm (‘Benjamin Bloom’s and others original concepts as stated in material; Alan Chapman contextual material, review, code, design 2006-2009‘)
The key points to take from this reading are that the ‘taxonomy’ is a classification of learning types. Near the start of the article, its author explains the classification of learning into three types:- Cognitive, Emotive, and Psychomotor, ie intellectual, feelings, and manual or physical skills:-
Bloom’s Taxonomy model is in three parts, or ‘overlapping domains’. Again, Bloom used rather academic language, but the meanings are simple to understand:
- Cognitive domain (intellectual capability, ie., knowledge, or ‘think’)
- Affective domain (feelings, emotions and behaviour, ie., attitude, or ‘feel’)
- Psychomotor domain (manual and physical skills, ie., skills, or ‘do’)
We progress through different levels (capabilities) in each domain as we acquire any new learning. A number of tables follow, along with expansion upon Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy, and some discussion of how his successors developed the theories.
Another, shorter piece of writing on the subject can be found in a document, ‘Writing Learning Objectives at UKCLE‘, which practically addresses which verbs, objects and conditions to use when framing learning objectives.
The key question is, how could I use this analysis in my role as teaching artist? My initial reaction is that, in my forthcoming lesson on research and bibliographic skills, I almost need to engage the students’ affective domain before anything else. It’s very difficult making bibliographic skills seem appealing! By way of a parallel, I remember classes on Dewey Classification at library school. It was such a tedious topic that our lecturer’s lilting Welsh accent was just about the highlight of each lesson. We didn’t blame him, or consider him boring – it was just a very hard topic to get enthusiastic about. And keeping accurate records for your bibliography is a similarly dry subject.
Therefore, If I can get research students to recognise that they need to acquire these skills, then I hope they’ll be more willing to engage with the subject. So, as I see it, the emotive or affective element is recognising the need to learn.
The cognitive learning element is understanding HOW to keep an accurate bibliography and redeploy it into subsequent writings.
The author of the article admits that Bloom spent less time on the psychomotor learning. In truth, how do you separate out learning how to create a bibliographic reference, into its cognitive and psychomotor components? Keeping your grasp on a mountain of paperwork and physically filing it away logically does have a psychomotor element, I suppose, but I’m more concerned with digital applications than with filing papers!
At the moment my lesson plan is in my head. I may well have an opening powerpoint image of a pile of books and papers, messed up and apparently in no order (plenty of examples upstairs in my house!), so that I can make the point that there’s a fine line between ‘organised chaos’ (a euphemism if ever there was one), and total confusion. I am hoping to begin the session by encouraging the research students to discuss their own record-keeping and note-taking practices, so I can find out what they already know, and get them to share ‘best practice’ before I wade in with a bunch of good suggestions of my own.
I am intending to email them – and maybe use our Whittaker Live blog and Twitter, before the session with the dual purpose of reminding them to turn up, and getting them to start thinking about the topic before they arrive.
This has nothing to do with my journey as a teaching artist! I sit, a solitary woman in Testosterone Towers, facing the start of the school Easter holidays. We have the following:-
- A final year undergraduate writing a computer science dissertation
- A would-be architect taking Highers and Advanced Highers, with portfolios, paper and paint everywhere
- a National exams guinea-pig, in a state of total panic
Each is totally focused on his own worries/challenges, and the sympathy gene is the only thing in my house that has been ironed and put away. As Mum, all I can do is make soothing noises, which themselves meet with disapproval. Moreover, have you tried making soothing noises to a snarling tiger? Or a hamster refusing to leave its nest, come to that? (I won’t divulge which …) And then, we have Mr Black-and-White. Oh, dear me!
Why, you might ask, am I putting further pressure on myself by taking a course at the same time?! (It’s okay, you can ask me. It won’t be the first time I’ve been asked!) It was an opportunity I could not resist, and I could not let it go by. If a chance comes my way, I grab it with both hands – it’s just my approach to life. Still, sitting wringing my hands won’t get my own assignments done, so having got that off my chest (not to mention too many metaphors, sadly mixed), I must get on with some reading.