What Do First-Year Students Know About Information Research? And What Can We Teach Them? by Kate Manuel
I feel that every time I read a new article each week my thoughts and perceptions about teaching are always challenged. This leaves me in a place where I find myself reevaluating my beliefs. The article for this week is no different. The primary focus of the article looks at first year college students in basic level English classes and their information literacy level before and after library instruction. The study also focuses in on some of the perceptions that librarians commonly may hold about incoming new students and whether the perceptions that they hold are valid. The article made me realize that many of the perceptions that I have about students are many of the same described within the study.
I have always tried to keep in mind when I am preparing to teach to not assume any perceptions about the knowledge base of my class that is about to walk in. I have discovered that when I do that my classes tend to feel like (in my opinion) a lot of unnecessary explanation and hand holding. I feel that this creates an environment that is very difficult for students to learn in; however, this article made me realize that, like a lot librarians, I do believe in the assumption that my students are coming in with next to no knowledge about the library at all. This makes me think that I have to cover everything so that my students will have a thorough knowledge of the library. I realize in reality that it is next to impossible for me to cover every aspect of library instruction in detail in under an hour in a one shot session.
This study however has shown me that I should have more faith in my students’ base knowledge and not assume that almost all of my students are going to be information illiterate. This study just reinforced the idea that as a teacher I should assume nothing and instead try to gauge the experience of my class throughout the instruction session in order to best meet the students’ needs. I was also reminded that I need to be cognizant that my students are bringing their own experiences to the table and that this is how they are going to perceive, interrupt, and measure the information that I give out. To disregard such an important aspect would be, in my opinion, detrimental to not only the ability of the student to learn but also for me as a teacher in finding the best method in which to rely the needed information.