Tag Archives: Feedback

Ongoing User Education

In recent weeks, I spoke about the library and e-resources to our new jazz undergraduates, and gave part-of-a-lecture to all the new BMus and BEd undergraduates, about finding resources (paper and electronic) for their first academic assignment.

I also made a powerpoint and recorded a voiceover about using the catalogue and our e-resources, which was shared with the new PGCert and MEd students, and that has also gone online for future use.  What I need is feedback, though.  I did ask for students to let me know if the ppt was helpful.  No-one has.  (I think I’ll send a MailChimp message to the entire cohort – it might get some response.)  But last night I got an email asking for e-resource help, so I checked out the things I was asked about, and emailed a reply.  This was at 23:58 on a Saturday!  (Do I get a gold star for being super-helpful, over and above the call ….?!)   However, I couldn’t solve the problems. We didn’t have one thing, and don’t seem to have access to another.  I’ll check it out again at work tomorrow.  I really shouldn’t check my work emails on a Saturday night …

I was meant to give another undergraduate session on Wednesday, but there was a schedule change that I didn’t hear about, so that is to be rescheduled.

All part of the parachute lecturer’s rich tapestry of life.  These lecturers with their regular teaching schedules don’t know they’re born!!

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Debriefing: the Research and Bibliographic Skills Seminar

My session with the research students went well last night.  There were six students, a few apologies, and the course leader was present.

I had been asked to cover research skills using electronic databases, and also to talk about bibliographic software.  My one-hour lesson-plan accomodated all this, but in retrospect, it was all rather tightly packed in. The feedback afterwards was practically unanimous in this regard; and it has been suggested to me today that it would have been good to have had a similar session, or two similar sessions, at the start of the academic year in September.  I’m inclined to think that we could have occupied two, two-hour sessions, perhaps a week or two apart.

My major change to the session, which I’ve now given several times, was in endeavouring to embrace constructive alignment theory, and to have the students much more involved.  I was delighted how successful it was, to divide the students in pairs, getting them to ask each other three simple questions and then to report back to the group (a) what their partner found to be the most useful e-resource; (b) how their bibliography was progressing; and (c) whether there were any aspects of digital resources that they found challenging.  Discussion was frank and animated, and I partnered with the course leader to talk about similar questions meanwhile.

I took notes as the students shared each others’ answers; some were quite surprising to me.  The students make much use of the University of St Andrews’ e-resources (being far more numerous and interdisciplinary than we, a small institution, can afford); they also make quite a bit of use of Google Scholar.  Naxos and JSTOR featured, not surprisingly, and also a couple of unique resources suiting the researchers’ own subjects – one from the Piobaireachd (Pibroch) Society, and the Chinese National Library.  We don’t have a large enough research cohort to expect every e-resource on offer to be mentioned; it obviously depends on postgraduates’ research subjects as to what they will find useful.

More students had encountered Zotero, but were interested in what Mendeley could do; and the less technically-adept students were content with their Word document bibliographies, but again, hopefully emboldened to experiment with bibliographic software once they’d heard me and their peers talking encouragingly about their advantages.

The students’ course leader talked a little about Prezi as an alternative to PowerPoint, and one of the students engaged in dialogue with me about Scrivener as a writing tool for constructing and envisaging large pieces of written work.

Surprisingly, out of six postgraduate students, two had learned the hard way about the urgency of backing up documents and preferably keeping a copy on a USB stick, or using some kind of cloud storage.  That’s 33%, which I found quite a worrying percentage!

FEEDBACK FROM THE RESEARCH AND BIBLIOGRAPHIC SKILLS SEMINAR

Peer-reviewFeedback form 001 from the course leader: “Many thanks for a lively and helpful session last night, I am interested to view the feedback
with you…”

I was keen to get feedback from the students themselves, and decided that a simple 3-question survey would give the best chance of everyone completing it on the spot.

Liked:-

  • overall structure very clear;
  • hearing what my colleagues use to create their biblios and find articles;
  • lots of experiences about bibliography software.  I haven’t used any before, but it sounds very convenient and easy to produce the thesis later;
  • hearing about Zotero and Mendeley;
  • the useful information about software of bibliography;
  • diversity of resources.

Disliked:-

  • The timing – prefer stretch over 2 or 3 hours;
  • the session felt slightly rushed, but I would rather see a longer session than less content;
  • —–
  • that it was so short;
  • —–
  • too brief focus on each element!

Would like more of:-

  • Bibliographical information (Zotero, etc);
  • … this session! It was hugely helpful;
  • practical sessions or more longer session for experiencing softwares together;
  • Zotero/Mendeley training;
  • details of bibliography (the way of how to use it).

Evidence that Learners Have Learned

Janet Robertson, one of my classmates on the Teaching Artist course, posted to the class collaborative space on 24 April after a session on teaching styles led by Kenny McGlashan.  Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend that session – I was flying back from Luton at the time!  However, reading through the comments, I realise there is quite a bit of discussion about deep and surface learning, and also about how we know our students have learned anything.  The day after Janet’s post, course leader Andrew Comrie posted a comment about surface and deep learning.

I don’t want to quote his words verbatim without permission, even with attribution, but I’d like to make a note of his main points so that I can refer back to them.  So here they are:-

  1. “Create opportunities for learners to demonstrate … question …. and set [further] goals, eg by
  2. “Reflective Journals” [we can use these to assess learning and guide students further]
  3. “Set formative tasks in future lessons” [giving students a chance to show what they’ve learned] …. and “allow time to give formative feedback for learning” …
  4. Getting to know about our students’ learning styles and preferences helps us cater for their various preferences. Again, we need to allow time to get feedback from students, to inform us of this.
  5. People do learn at different paces – some during the class, but others “continue to process after class and use opportunities to discuss aspects of lessons with their peers and others to make sense of what is happening.” So …
  6. If we can engineer opportunities for this post-class discussion to take place, it benefits all.

I’ve been mulling over how I’m going to construct my “digital artefact” to demonstrate my practice.  This blog will be the main vehicle, but if I can, I hope to send a small survey to my postgrad researchers after the class I’m going to be leading in a couple of weeks’ time.  It would be great if I could get some feedback and share it here.