Michele Van Hoeck – “The Social Side of Research” – notes

I’m posting the notes I took during Michele Van Hoeck’s session on “The Social Side of Research”, which is a focus on a specific aspect of the findings from a Project Information Literacy study which explored the information needs and gaps in information literacy which recent graduates encountered when they joined the workforce.  Michele presented on a related topic at the CCLI conference in 2013, but I was pleased that she expanded on one of the findings that I found to be most interesting — namely, that information needs in the workplace encompass a social and iterative quality that isn’t really found in college assignments.  Read on for more details:

  • Project Information Literacy – “Learning Curve: How college graduates solve information problems once they join the workplace.”

  • Qualitative study – 2 parts – phone interviews / focus groups w recent grads

    • employer interviews – 23 employers – people who had some contact with new hires

    • focus groups – harvard, santa rosa college, UT Austin

  • Why should we be interested in workplace information literacy?

    • 99% of students will work doing something else other than academic work

    • students spend 95% of their life doing something besides being college students

  • did not use term “information literacy” – asked about ‘doing research’ or ‘solving information problems’ at work

  • coded responses according to 14 ACRL info lit standards, also 16 Habits of Mind (Art Costa, CSU prof)

  • Interview questions focused on: What do you expect walking in the door? what are their strengths? (“wows”) what are they having trouble with?

  • #1 strength – ease with technology. new grads knew how to do stuff that they didn’t know how to do, slicing and dicing information

  • difficulties – more of a focus for the report and this presentation

    • 1. Engage team during research process – team stuff is always at the top

      • 2 sides to this – 1 is the iterative style – checking in with the team along the pathway, being able to get feedback and redirect. incorporate team along the process

      • second side – people as sources – “they won’t walk over and ask someone a question” – lack of awareness that ppl are a source of information

    • 2. Variety of formats – the Internet is not the only source out there

    • 3. Finding patterns – difficulty distinguishing the noise from solid material

    • 4. Be Thorough – aka persistence (habit of mind) – desire to go deeper and sticking with it without getting frustrated

  • What did the grads say?

    • what’s challenging, what did you learn in college that is most applicable

    • my job is literally about finding information that does not exist – low level simmer of freakout

    • 1. increased sense of urgency

    • 2. little structure or direction – no full blown assignment prompt

    • 3. highly contextualized and fundamentally social

  • what transferred well?

    • 1. ability to systematically ID reliable information

    • 2. analyze published sources

    • 3. synthesize large volumes of content

  • getting used to talking to strangers / answers are not all in your computer

  • grads perceive fast pace / employers perceive a lack of persistence / thoroughness

  • workplace research is social, synthesizes a variety of sources, requires persistence, requires openness to continuous learning

    • → the last three connect to creating a research paper in college, the first one not so much (but what about team assignments?)

  • Why aren’t grads better at doing research in teams? [Poll Everywhere poll]

  • Communities of Practice

    • how people learn in the workplace – like-minded practitioners learning from each other

    • most learning does not take place from a master – it takes place with journeymen and other apprentices

  • what do communities of practice do? how do they overlap with IL?

    • problem solving, request for info, seeking experience, reusing assets, mapping knowledge and identifying gaps, documentation projects, discussing developments, coordination and synergy

  • not a lot of studies on workplace info lit in US – more in UK and elsewhere

  • nagging doubts – people as sources – old school librarian saying ‘people aren’t sources’

    • primary research requires proper training – is this really info lit territory?

  • of our IL standards, 5 are social, 14 performance indicators, 87 learning outcomes

  • ACRL’s new framework for info lit in higher ed

    • higher ed landscape is more social & collaborative, and the response is very focused on tech & tech-based solutions

  • what are we doing to prepare students for the social side of research?

    • looking at LOEX (just focused on instruction) & PRIMO DB

  • how do we conceptualize student work? solo in the stacks, or talking passionately in the dorm room

  • Word Cloud synthesis – collaboration is big, but it’s linked to faculty

  • librarians are great collaborators, but we aren’t teaching students to do it!

  • of the LOEX abstracts that included something social, the activities described were:

    • collaborative learning activities

    • collaborative tools

    • collaborative spaces

    • social artifacts (ie wikis)

  • Big thing that’s not there – people as sources

  • Team Based Learning – incorporating student peers, TA’s in IL instruction and reference

  • teams compete in library orientation game

  • Ideas, things that Michele has been thinking about:

  • identifying, contacting an expert – getting a grown up response

    • coaching students on this

    • most appropriate with more mature and internally motivated students

    • story about wikipedia article assignment about high-level chemistry topic – why don’t you contact the person involved?

  • peer roundtables

    • borrowed idea from a composition class – talked about where they were at with their projects

  • encourage team consultations with librarians

  • partner with faculty to design assignments that include expert consultation

  • reach out to extracurricular groups on campus

  • “not all knowledge worth collecting for a library was written down”

  • Other ideas? – discussion time

    • Trudy Jacobsen article from LOEX – Team Based learning in one shot instruction sessions!

    • “what information tools do you like to use in your research?” group discussion to start a session

    • including some brain science in the instruction sessions – giving them permission to ask for help in the research process

    • librarian is facilitating sessions with the group