Thursday, January 26, 2006

Good evening to all RSWL folks & happy beginning of the semester!

I am writing with a few brief remarks about my project.

My project concerns information literacies in the English major--but of course I hope I can be in dialogue with other departments too. In several ways, I am responding to longstanding complaints that our students --even in our senior seminars--have not completed research papers or, in fact, had much experience incorporating secondary sources. Even today (around hour 11 of my day) one of my MA students three papers away from graduation said to me "I have never completed research; how do I do it?" And this in a program where there is a dedicated methodology course! Where is the place of research and information literacy in our undergrad. curriculum and how can this be enhanced?

If I were to articulate an overall goal for my project (extending from now through Fall 2006) it would be to think about the ways in which information literacies can be woven more deeply into our curriculum, to provide (hopefully really nifty) research exercises for a variety of our courses, and to create something of a "buzz" around information literacies in our department--or at least get a few people interested in it.
This will involve at least one workshop.

I have a good starting point: the Middle States Commission on Higher Education produced an excellent report in 2002 outlining possible guidelines for information literacy in the undergrad. curriculum. It's a smart and toughminded report and a real inspiration. I will read other research on the matter of information literacy. Then I will survey a number of our English majors about their levels of information literacy.

The questions I ask will be shaped by my research into information literacy -- and conversations with our colleagues in the library. I'll certainly ask them about the instruction they've received in formal paper writing but also get them to say if they've worked with certain databases/resources/ tools. I might try and probe whether they recognize a distinction between journalistic sources and academic sources. I don't know yet what I need to ask, so I am hoping for some feedback on the survey part of it. And maybe some handholding from my social science colleagues! I did not realize when I proposed the project that I needed to collect data--and of course my intellectual world is not an empirical world--so I need to think about what it means to survey people and how to respond to the information collected.

Where I go from there will depend on the kind of responses I get back. I'll probably ask faculty to do some kind of survey as well. What shall I ask my colleagues? I guess I will ask them what research teaching they do and what they wish their students already knew about research & information technology [without having to be taught information literacy] & what obstacles they face at Queens as they try and teach research.

So then I'll do the sample exercises and readings...and a research blog of some kind ... and a faculty workshop.

So that's the beginning!

I look forward to seeing you all and talking bloggishly until then!


Blogger Jason Tougaw said...

Hi Carrie. It's a great project--and our program certainly needs it. I wonder, though, if you need to spend the time and energy it would take to do surveys. What if, instead, you ran a couple of workshops--one preliminary, to get people thinking about how to teach research strategies in their courses and get some input on the kinds of materials that might help them do it and one later, where you actually work with some of the handouts, etc. that you'll be developing. I'd certainly help in any way I can.

What do others think? Do the surveys seem crucial? (I, like Carrie, am not all that empirically minded.)

8:54 AM  
Blogger Carrie Hintz said...

Hi Jason & everyone! I am really looking forward to getting feedback on this matter--I think Jason raises a good question and offers a good alternative model--but if others could weigh in that would help me figure out my methodology! Best, Carrie

4:05 PM  

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