Research projects

research booksI am sorry to say that I hardly know any librarians here in Norway who have dedicated research hours. Most of the few who do are enrolled in PhD or similar programs. Even in “University Librarian” positions there is no rule as to being able to do research work within office hours. I have been very lucky here to have a manager who encourages me to do research projects and to write about them. Of course, I often use my non-office hours, too (otherwise I wouldn`t be able to get anything else done at work), but I wish that these research activities were seen as something more than an activity that we add on top of everything else. I wish that engaging in more research were regarded as a necessary and interesting part of any academic librarian position. Last year I wrote an article about information skills in higher education (no – in UNIPED) and this year I wrote about faculty-library collaboration (en – in Journal of Information Literacy). Gathering the data for these projects and (particularly) working with the editors of these journals has been very instructive and I feel like I have learned a lot. I don`t think I had truly understood the writing process until I started working on this latest article. I hope that I`ll get more chances to do these kinds of projects. I loved it!

I doubt there will be more blog posts before Christmas now, so I`ll take this opportunity to wish everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Engaging students in large auditoriums

student teacher network imageIt`s been a busy autumn, but these last couple of days I have finally been able to have a look at some of the items in my “to read” pile on my desk. I have just read the book “Hvordan engasjere studentene?” (“How to engage the students?”). It was worth the effort.

The authors are working at BI (business school in Oslo) and they have experimented with different ideas and techniques to engage students in large settings, like auditoriums with up to 600 students. Not many students are comfortable raising their hand and speaking before such a large crowd, and the authors have described different methods and ideology to engage the students in active learning. The authors believe in “blended learning”, which means that they are using different approaches to learning activities, such as traditional lecture, group assignments, group discussions, one-minute papers, polls, tests and competitions (and many more) to increase motivation and engagements. They have briefly addressed how to cater to the different students` needs, too. They have used Blooms taxonomy to plan learning activities for the whole semester and they used Biggs` well-known students archetypes: “academic Susan”, “non-academic Robert” and “strategic Peter”. The authors have then used these archetypes to describe some of the issues on how to engage the Roberts without losing the Susans and vice-versa.

Of course, as in most books of this character, there is a seemingly unavoidable amount of “chatter”, and some of the technologies and methods are already well-known by teachers. Still, I would find it well worthy of a place in teacher`s training courses. The authors have managed to show their enthusiasm for the field, and it was easy to fall into their line of thinking. Even though many of ideas discussed in the book are made for teachers who teach entire courses, and not particularly for libraians who may have just a couple of sessions (if she is lucky!) during a course, I found some ideas very useful.

I think that I`ll have a furher look at these things in particular: one-minute paper, polls in the learning management system before lectures, group discussions and digital storytelling.

Ronæs, N. H., T. Haugnes og A. B. Swanberg (2012) Hvordan engasjere studentene?: BI LearningLab: en idébok med eksempler. Oslo: Alpha forl.