Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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The Big (and not so) Easy: Missing Voices on the Student Transition to College

Posted by lpearle on 14 July 2011

Ok, I get why there were no school librarians or academic librarians on this panel – apparently our voices have been heard.  But still, having representatives from those groups on this panel would have really added to the discussion.  According to a few people, school librarian membership in LIRT is negligible, so I encourage all my peers to go and add that $5 membership to their dues now!

So, who were the “missing voices”?  A public school teacher (PST), a public librarian (PL), a college freshman (CF) and a graduate student (GS) who teaches incoming freshmen writing.  Here’s what I got from their discussion:

Q: What would be the ideal skills curriculum?

CF: It’s really important to be able to recognize bias (even in scholarly journals)

PST: Students need to know parenteticals, works cited page, thesis, paraphrasing v. summarizing, how to use 4-5 sources in 8th grade (and then move up), databases, how to synthesize information, to not do book reports but critical analysis

PL: “guided learning” – take the time to scaffold and hold students accountable; teach them time and project management skills – this will eliminate fear of research in college

GS: Teach them not only how to find information but how to use it; they need guidance into scholarly information (sorting through, evaluating, determining its purpose).

  • remember, the public library is the “third space” in which students learn
  • students don’t realize that their academic librarians won’t know them, that LC is used (not DDC), that books won’t be in the same place they are in their public or school library
  • stop teaching them to “understand” DDC – it’s merely an address.  We don’t “understand” 123 Main Street, we just know how to find it
  • need to be taught types of resources available and when to use each

Q: What are the most important things to teach our students to prep for college?  (theoretical vs. practical skills)

CF: He felt confident but was quickly disillusioned: there are more citation styles than MLA!

PST: Need to interweave practical and theoretical – start source analysis in 6th grade (fact v. opinion, credibility, etc.) if not earlier

PL: Research is a means to an end, not the end in itself (think lifelong information needs, like car buying or medical information); what am I producing? what does it require?

GS: There is a value to spending time on the theoretical (esp. scaffolding)

  • students need to know the difference between client (teacher) and audience (their peers) – this generation tends to go peer-to-peer, rather than look for authority/plausibility

Q: What are some practical suggestions for improving communications between school librarian/school teacher, school librarian/public librarian, school librarian/academic librarian, etc.?

CF: Students aren’t good at self-advocating; we need to learn how to partner with teacher & librarian (so it helps if they are already in a partnership)

PST: Query the alumni often; see how prepared they think they were v how prepared they really were (use the information to build librarian/teacher links)

PL: “we’re not school… we don’t care… we don’t judge”; schools really need to tell their PL counterparts about projects because that’s where students go when school’s not in session!

GS: Need to be clearer on what the final product really is, before the project starts; give the librarians examples of good papers and bad papers so they can better help; there needs to be more academic/school discussion so that school teachers and librarians have a realistic idea about what level of skills/knowledge is needed at the next level

  • teachers/professors need to pretend to do the research themselves, so they see what’s actually available not what they hope will be available
  • scaffold, but use realistic time frames (remember, students don’t have the background the teachers/professors do)

Other takeaways?

  • Showing students what an “A” and an “F” look like can help with their understanding what their product should look like; also can give them the opportunity to self-assess and/or do peer review
  • Is multimedia being used at the college level?  Some (eg, images in science), not really for other types of research (except for primary sources)

My biggest takeaway was that the panel’s ideas of who we are and what we do is outdated.  It’s not about advocacy, it’s about informing them because if they know, they’ll see that they do need us.  Maybe it’s time to stop saying “we need to change” and start saying “we have changed”.

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4 Responses to “The Big (and not so) Easy: Missing Voices on the Student Transition to College”

  1. […] The Big (and not so) Easy: Missing Voices on the Student Transition to College […]

  2. […] knew that “Go to YouTube and look for [title of video]” wasn’t correct. At the LIRT session I attending during ALA10, the student voice on the panel said “there are more citation styles than MLA!”, and […]

  3. […] School Librarians day in Boston (posts here and here),  ALA Annual in NOLA (posts here and here), and the conferences ended with AASL in Minneapolis (posts here, here, here and here).  One of […]

  4. […] there was my first meeting as part of the LIRT Transitions to College committee. I’d attended their session during last year’s conference and thought that it would be a good committee to work with – turns out, I’m probably […]

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