Renowned psychologist and Harvard professor B.F. Skinner wrote, “It has always been the task of formal education to set up behavior which would prove useful or enjoyable later in a student’s life.”
Librarians at the David Lam Library believe that the critical thinking and secondary research skills which we teach to Sauder School students enable them to excel not only in the assignment at hand, but throughout their time at Sauder, and throughout their careers.
Between September 1 and October 31, the David Lam librarians taught 32 classes in research methods to 1587 students. The orientations and classes were given in COMM 296, COMM 311, COMM 365, COMM 465, COMM 486M, COMM 497, ENGL 112, ECM, MBA ISP, MBA Precore, FTMBA Core, and MBA Exchange. Additional sessions were provided for undergraduate orientations and on behalf of the Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre, as well as classes to the Sales and Marketing Executives program.
We have been experimenting with new instructional techniques. Clicker classes with the ECM’s and MBA’s this fall enabled us to quickly ascertain comfort levels with libraries, librarians and databases. Our interactive in-class quizzes, group discussion breakouts, and take-home quizzes test students’ comprehension of theories, techniques and resources being taught in class. MBA Pre-core students physically experienced the basics of search logic in the humorous Human Boolean exercise, in which they stand up and sit down based on rules which describe them by their undergraduate degrees and other characteristics.
Searching for information is an iterative process, and involves a series of interactions between thinking, research, revising, rethinking and research. Many students need coaching consultations throughout this multi-stage process. To help them at this critical preliminary stage, we’ve devised a tool – Jump-Start Your Research – which guides them through questions that help focus their thoughts.
As with other instruction at Sauder, our work involves more than directing students to useful resources for their assignments. Our real work, which occurs in the classroom and in reference consultations, is teaching critical thinking skills. And like other instructors, we work hard to articulate learning goals and outcomes, because we believe that these skills increase the success of our graduates and their future employers.