After the Christmas break, I thought I’d better start uploading some of the documentation for the two lessons I gave four weeks ago! Some hours later, I’ve added most of it to my 2015-16 Portfolio – I just have to do some reflection myself, now. Transcribing student contributions and feedback forms took longer than I’d bargained for, but it was interesting to go through them with a bit of distance to add perspective. These are some of my first impressions – I’ll try to expand upon them for my Portfolio submission.
Positives and Negatives
Some people disliked passing round books, but most loved this. In all probability, the majority of students had never had such an array of early collections in their hands in the space of an hour. I made my own specialism “cool” to one student, and it doesn’t get much better than that!
There was also general appreciation of the background context that I provided, and of my stories about the compilers. One student even asked for more about classical composers’ involvement with traditional song settings. (I had talked about Beethoven’s input into the Scots Musical Museum.)
The cultural context and chance to talk about this seems to have been pretty generally appreciated.
A few people thought there wasn’t enough discussion, but others enjoyed the discussion elements, so that seemed to have been a matter of personal taste.
Similarly, there were a few comments about ‘too much talking, not enough musical examples’ (I couldn’t get the internet to work on the smart-board, which was annoying but beyond my control) – but there were also positive comments about the musical examples that I did give.
Several people did comment about the lack of online examples – a pity. However, I might well have other opportunities to share this element of the library provision, so all is not lost.
Some people wanted a wider variety of instruments to be represented – had I been able to show the hms.scot website, there would have been more fiddle music than they could have got their heads around.
Friday mornings at 9 am aren’t popular, it seems! (No reflection on my teaching there, anyway.)
One student wanted more teaching about modern collections – but that wasn’t in my remit, as Lori planned to give another seminar on this herself.
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-review from the course leader: “Many thanks for a lively and helpful session last night, I am interested to view the feedback
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.
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.
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;
details of bibliography (the way of how to use it).
The blog homepage is the reflective journal itself. Additional pages accommodate my e-portfolio and other relevant information about the various aspects of my professional practice, thus:-
Feedback – I have few opportunities for requesting feedback, but it is important to me that learner’s comments are gathered together to inform my future practice.
Music Librarian – ‘user education’ includes introducing readers to the library catalogue and relevant e-resources as well as encouraging good research and bibliographic skills appropriate to the individual reader’s context and level of study.
Musicologist – I give occasional lectures and seminars both within and without the Conservatoire in my capacity as a postdoctoral researcher.
Organist/Choir Trainer – the practical, artistic aspect of my profile.
PDP – my Professional Development Plan as a Teaching Artist
Personal CV – my scholarly writing and presenting are all part of my professional profile. (Besides keeping my CV up to date with recent papers and presentations, I also maintain an Academia.edu presence; and upload what I can to Research Gate, which is a good discussion forum.)
Resources – an almost inevitable outcome of my librarian/musicologist existence (not to mention a key focus of my present postdoctoral research) is that I have honed my bibliographic skills to a high level. The Resources page details my professional reading for the duration of the Teaching Artist course, with occasional annotations. Annotated bibliography is an art in itself; for day-to-day purposes, I only annotate occasional entries .
One of my main objectives in undertaking the Teaching Artist short course was to equip myself with more knowledge and understanding of good contemporary pedagogy. Starting this blog was part of our digital ‘orientation’, both to facilitate our own reflection and to enable us to share comments with our course-leaders and fellow creative artists. This latter activity thus constitutes peer-review, offering each of us the opportunity to make constructive observations about our colleagues’ practice.
As an experienced blogger, reflecting upon various aspects of my work is relatively second-nature to me, but the present subject matter – being a teaching artist and practitioner – was completely new. The 29 posts that I have made include the course assignments (lesson plan, theoretical account, contextual study, theoretical appraisal of my teaching and learning methods, and self-assessment of online discussion), and a few lighter postings when multi-tasking my daily existence threatened to get on top of me; but there are still a good number of postings about my course studies.
In general, the blog represents a series of reflections on recommended course readings; and on my own practice. I have sought to reflect upon ways in which the theoretical readings can be applied to my professional teaching practice. (There was a period of adjustment as I realised that my usual third-person, objective research mode of writing needed to be adapted to suit first-person reflection in this new ‘social sciences’ discipline.) I have had opportunity to reflect before, during and after teaching or presenting experiences, and hope to continue in this practice in the months to come, in order to build upon positive and lessen negative outcomes in the future.
Of all the readings that I have done, constructive alignment theory resonated the most with me, and I read various recommended articles by John Biggs before I wrote my blogpost about it on 2 April 2014:-
I had already read Salman Khan’s The One World Schoolhouse (2012) before attending the Teaching Artist course, so I have some familiarity with the concept of ‘flipping the classroom’. Even if Khan’s practice is primarily in the digital world, the idea that students make their own meaning in their studies by being more practically involved in them, is just as much applicable to face-to-face teaching. Many of my readings, but most particularly those by Biggs, made me begin to realise that I needed to make my teaching much more interactive, and my lesson-plan for a session on postgraduate research and bibliographic skills has been designed to take this into account. Once I had shared the lesson plan in our collaborative space, Steph gave me helpful feedback, reassuring me that I was thinking along the right lines:-
“Hi Karen, I like how precise and to the point your lesson plan is. Everything is described in a clear fashion that makes it easy to understand each activity. Do you find that 60 minutes is a suitable amount of time to teach the students what they need to know? The learning outcomes here would make this a very useful session to include at the beginning of a Higher education course, when research and bibliographic skills are expected to be used on a regular basis. I certainly felt/feel intimidated and unsure about the correct way to document references and resources, so it would have helped me!”
“It certainly sounds that you have quite a challenge on your hands delivering the amount required into the time you are given, and I think you utilise you materials and resources very well by exercises such as the emails beforehand and follow-up that you offer. Don’t worry about being a pain …”
Another problem that my reflections continually came back to, was the lack of context and continuity in the kind of teaching that I’m required to do. Again, with the abovementioned lesson-plan, I’ve tried to create context by contacting students in advance of the session (see the invitation HERE), and also sought instant feedback at the end of the session. The lesson took place today (19 May 2014), and I intend to follow up with an email to all students and their course-leader a couple of days later, once I’ve transcribed and summarised the feedback forms.
Reading about deep, surface and tactical learning was informative, and reinforced my long-held belief that students do not always see the relevance of information skills to their courses in a conservatoire. If learning how to access a particular database or format a bibliography are not directly relevant to, for example, learning the harpsichord, and moreover are not even assessed, then they are reluctant to engage fully – even tactical learning will not take place. I need to continue to work on ways of helping students see the connection between information literacy and academic success, and the major benefits for their future careers whenever information is needed for a programme note or other piece of written work, whether creative or perhaps linked to a business proposal.
Indeed, I can draw certain parallels between my information skills teaching and the sessions I have led on the Scottish music BA course. When I’m talking about historical Scottish song collections, my subject matter is at least pertinent to the degree course. However, my research was effectively a combination of musicology and cultural history, whilst student on the Scottish music course are primarily motivated by performing, composing and improvising it. My material is informative, and there certainly is the expectation that these students will have a thorough grounding in the history of their subject, but I have to accept that 18th – 19th century Scottish musical and cultural history may not have as much appeal as a series of gigs or a recording session. Again, I must continue to seek ‘hooks’ to draw them into my historical world, and find ways of demonstrating the relevance of the subject that I am teaching. This is definitely an area that I would like to continue to read and reflect upon, and I should like this to evolve into a more scholarly article in due course.
THE TASK ASSIGNED:-
“Having kept a journal for the duration of the course, you are required to summarise your key learning points from the course and post your summary to your ePortfolio. In your summary, highlight what/who has informed your learning and identify any changes you have started to make to your teaching practice. Where changes have been implemented, summarise the impact this is having on your students’ learning experience. Again, in your summary make reference to literature and dialogue with colleagues, peers and your students that are informing your learning and prfessional development . In your summary identify key areas, issues or opportunities you wish to develop following the course.
You should make regular entries into your Online Journal from 5 March to 5 May 2014. Your journal summary should be completed and uploaded to your e-Portfolio by 19 May 2014.”
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)
Programme / Course Title :
Research Degrees at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Project / Topic Lesson is linked to (if relevant):
Learning Outcome Lesson is linked to:
Doctoral and MPhil Students
Level (eg: P5 / S1) or context (Intergenerational..)
SCQF Levels 11-12, Masters and Doctoral Degrees.
No. of students in Session
Venue / Room:
Research Lab, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Learning Materials / Resources
Online databases (RCS subscriptions and others that are freely available)
2 x PCs, and students’ own laptops
Various interactions with online databases
LESSON DETAILS/ PLANNED ACTIVITIES:
Research and Bibliographic Skills
Annual seminar providing instruction on research and bibliographic skills to the research students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Monday 19th May, 6-7 pm. Although one of a series of evening events run for our research community, this particular session is not publicly advertised, but is offered to students engaged in research. It is stand-alone, insofar as it does not fit into a formal curriculum or structured series of classes.
Lesson Learning Outcomes*The verbs used to describe the learning outcome should be appropriate to the level and stage of development of the learners the lesson is for (Use CfE Outcomes / SCQF level descriptors or other Indicators as appropriate).
SCQF Characteristic 2 (PRACTICE: APPLIED KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND UNDERSTANDING) requiresstudents at Levels 11 and 12 to demonstrate competence ‘in applying a range of standard and specialised research and/or equivalent instruments and techniques of enquiry.’The research students will explore some key databases and bibliographic tools, and learn to exploit them as techniques of enquiry and documentation.
By the end of this session students should be able to:
Recognise key research resources and freely available bibliographic citation software
Devise search strategies to retrieve relevant research literature
Compile a bibliography suitable for scholarly writing.
Recognise these research capabilities as essential for a future academic career, but also as employability skills in the wider sense.
Tutor will email research students in advance of the seminar, advising them of the topics to be covered, and inviting them to come prepared to discuss web applications and methodologies that they have already encountered.
Estimated Time for Completion
Introduction to the learning outcomes and structure of the seminar
Overview of some key sources
Tutor moves between pairs, inviting students to use computers as appropriate to demonstrate resources they already know
Students discuss in pairs: share with each other one research database you find useful; the steps you have taken to begin your bibliography; any concerns about using e-resources
PCs and laptops
Tutor calls group back, inviting each pair to introduce each other’s favourite web resource and bibliographic methodology, and any concerns about e-resources
Students describe each other’s favourite web resource and bibliographic methodology, and any concerns about e-resources
PCs and laptops
Tutor picks up and addresses issues arising from the discussion.
Students’ earlier observations direct the nature of the discussion. Students are invited to suggest topics for demo searches
PCs and laptops
Tutor demonstrates her own use of Mendeley as a bibliographic tool, and introduces Zotero. Also Diigo; and a low-tech alternative to online technologies for bibliography.
Any student using Zotero invited to demo how they use it.
Summary: recap on topics covered in this session.To conclude, explain that tutor will email all students to follow-up this session; further training can be arranged if requested directly or via Research Lecturer.
Students invited to identify which of these resources they might find worthy of further exploration.Any questions?
* 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.
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.
I'm a musicologist disguised as a librarian. I've been writing this blog as part of my PG Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Arts Education, at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.