Pearling and footnote chasing

A recent post on Medical Libraries Discussion List suggests that this is yet another topic that might need a new article. I learned the following in library school. From the ever so clever Dr. Marcia Bates.

footnote chasing (Bates, 1989) or backwards chaining (Ellis, 1989)

citation searching (Bates, 1989) – Although I could swear that I learned “pearling” in library school, but maybe not from Dr. Bates? Booth (2008)* is a likely suspect, but I still don’t know where I got pearling from.

berrypicking (Bates, 1989)  – “Browsing is undirected, while berrypicking is more directed.” (Bates, 2002)

My attempts at representing these ideas at powerpoint slides. Feel free to use, share and re-mix: pearling footnote chasing

*Booth (2008) makes a distinction between “citation pearl growing” and “citation searching”. What I call pearling is what he calls “citation searching.” I will figure out where I put his citation pearl growing (building search terms from a relevant article) in my model. I also think he mis-characterizes Bates’ summary of berry picking on p.

Bates, M. (2002). Toward An Integrated Model of Information Seeking and Searching. Retrieved February 7, 2016, from

Bates, M. (1989). The design of browsing and berrypicking techniques for the online search interface. Online Review. Retrieved from  []

Booth, A. (2008). Unpacking your literature search toolbox: on search styles and tactics. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 25(4), 313–7. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2008.00825.x

Ellis, D. (1989). A behavioural approach to information retrieval system design. Journal of Documentation. Retrieved from

pearling and footnote chasing list summary

 from the recent discussion on the Medial Libraries Discussion List:
pearl growing/building/purling/citation pearling – citation associations (or keyword associations through pearl growing) can be conceptually incestuous when it comes to building a comprehensive search. For example, you would unlikely see someone who uses a behavioural approach to intervention citing a cognitive theorist or vice versa. In both cases if you stayed within one paradigm you’d miss important points of view/evidence. Reviewing and using additional index or key terms
citation tracking/tracking/searching/chasing/referencing/mining.
Ancestral searching
tree – bread crumbing – staircase
The Oxford Guide to Library Research by Thomas Mann (4th edition, 2015), Chapter Six is titled Citation Search and Mann uses the term Citation Searching.  I and other faculty have used this text in our library school online research classes at SJSU School of Information.
Citation Searching
Snowballing is sometimes referred to as *reference harvesting* or *pearl
growing search method*; here are some other terms that evoke similar kinds
of search strategies:
   – forward citation searching, footnote chasing, reference scanning,
   reference harvesting, hand-searching & powerbrowsing
   – backward chaining, forward chaining, digital browsing, footnote
   – pearl growing, reference harvesting, reference lists, reference
   searches, ‘cited by searching’ ….and so on
Bates articulates 29 different search strategies in a era before online databases:
Bates, M. (1979). Information search tactics. Journal of the American Society for Information  …. Retrieved from  []

math and science apps and sites for school age kids

I’ll update these pages someday. Until then other bits and pieces:


And this Scratch activity book: Super Scratch Programming Adventure! (Covers Version 2): Learn to Program by Making Cool Games by The LEAD Project

Khan academy’s summer of scripting has a nice interface and sends the grown up (if you signed your kids up through your account) email updates.


Dogo News –

Science Buddies – fantastic site for finding science fair projects. Take the quiz to get suggestions. (The quiz includes questions about how much time you have, and tries to get a sense of what your kid might find interesting.)

Middle school apps:

Elementary school apps:

Both of these recommended by my nephew, a 2nd grade teacher, the first one is only for iPad.

and this one:

Science Library Instruction Program pt. 2


Curriculum mapping: UNLV’s terrific work on the topic is all here:

I think of it as something more like the following, which I’ve applied to a specific UO department.
Worksheets_CurriculumMapping_HPHY_Fall_2014 [downloads as a .xls file with several worksheets]

More mapping using the ACRL Framework:

UO CAS: [note the curriculum map template at the top]

Rubric for new learning outcomes for UO

End of the term evaluations

Instead of the usual try these questions instead:

Your insights into your learning in this course can help me see our course from your side of the desk. Please respond to any three of the statements below (more if you’d like). Submit these anonymously; I will use them as I plan for my courses next semester. 

In this course …

  • it most helped my learning of the content when…because…
  • it would have helped my learning of the content if…because…
  • the assignment that contributed the most to my learning was… because…
  • the reading that contributed the most to my learning was… because…
  • the kinds of homework problems that contributed most to my learning were…because…
  • the approach I took to my own learning that contributed the most for me was…because…
  • the biggest obstacle for me in my learning the material was… because…
  • a resource I know about that you might consider using is…because…
  • I was most willing to take risks with learning new material when… because…
  • during the first day, I remember thinking…because…
  • what I think I will remember five years from now is…because…

You can also add a query such as the following: What is something covered in this course material that you can do now that you could not do or did not fully understand at the beginning of the term?



…If you’re interested in improving something like organization, if you define it behaviorally, you can change what you, do which is a lot easier than changing what you are. Organization has never been one of my strong suits and I didn’t make much progress trying to “be” organized. But when I started putting a skeleton outline on the board, when I stopped five minutes before the end of period and used the outline to summarize, when I began class working with students to create a list of points to remember from last class, I was seen by students as being more organized.

But it isn’t all good news. A collection of dashed off student comments collected at the end of the semester doesn’t easily translate into an action-based improvement agenda. What the student comments mean is probably not what you think they mean. Communication about the impact of teaching policies and practices on efforts to learn needs to be ongoing so there’s an opportunity for clarifying feedback, adjustments and then more feedback. We can and should make efforts to change the way our institutions collect student assessments, but, until that glacier melts, we need to take matters into our own hands and solicit a different kind of feedback and at different times during the course….

Italics and emphasis mine


“The Teaching and Learning Quality survey, created by Theodore W. Frick, who is now an emeritus professor in Indiana University at Bloomington’s School of Education, attracted interest from dozens of institutions about five years ago. Its questions focus on students’ perceptions of effective educational practices (prompts include “I was able to connect my past experience to new ideas and skills I was learning” and “My instructor demonstrated skills I was expected to learn”).

To study the instrument, instructors assessed student work in 12 courses one month after the courses had ended. Researchers compared those assessments with the results of Mr. Frick’s survey, finding a clear relationship: Students who’d said they frequently saw effective practices in use showed high levels of mastery.

For critics, the problems with student evaluations are too fundamental to be fixed…..

What they really measure is ‘student satisfaction,’” Ms. Nilson wrote in an email to The Chronicle. “They bear no relationship at all to learning.””

emphasis mine


Authentic assessment

From the terrific librarians from Carleton College:

Iris Jastram and Heather Tompkins present workshop at Oregon State University

links to the material they used are in a google folder from the story above.

They also mentioned the work done by the librarian at the Claremont Colleges.

Student groups

Candice Benjes-Small wrote: “I’ve had a lot of luck assigning the reading “Coping with Couch Potatoes and Hitch hikers” to students and having them write a reflection on it based on their past group experiences.  Then, we have a great discussion about what makes for a positive group experience.  The reading is included in Barbara Oakley et al’s “Turning student groups into effective teams” article, available at:”

There was more at the National Academies workshop this summer.  I’ll have to see if I can find it….

Transparency in assignments

I’m such a big fan of Project Information Literacy. So here is a round up of the things I find inspiring.

Apparently students (and especially minorities) learn better if they know WHY they are doing an assignment. Here is a template from the Transparency Project to help.

I’m also really interested in questions. I ask lots of them and think they are important. Apparently I’m not alone. Here is a summary of the Question Formulation Technique. I may have to read the book:

Question Formulation Technique

Produce Your Questions
Four essential rules for producing your own questions:
• Ask as many questions as you can.
• Do not stop to discuss, judge, or answer the questions.
• Write down every question exactly as it is stated.
• Change any statement into a question.

Improve Your Questions
• Categorize the questions as closed- or open-ended.
• Name the advantages and disadvantages of each type of question.
• Change questions from one type to another.

Prioritize the Questions
• Choose your three most important questions.
• Why did you choose these three as the most important?

Next Steps
• How are you going to use your questions?

© The Right Question Institute. Used with permission.

Head lice

My suggestion is that you get the following supplies: a real metal nit comb, a ketchup bottle, cetaphil (tm or generic), a hair dryer, a bonnet attachment (optional) and a dryer that has a high heat setting.

1. Comb hair and apply a lot of cetaphil to everyone’s heads. Follow the directions on the link carefully.

2. Use the bonnet to bake the cetaphil on without making yourself crazy. Stick child in front of electronic device while everything dries/heats up.

3. The directions above say you don’t need to use a nit comb, but I did, and I don’t regret it. Consumer reports says this is really the only part that helps. I’m ok with redundancy.

4. Dry anything you’re worried about being contaminated on high in a clothes dryer for 15 minutes. But, don’t worry too much.

I believe that the head lice in our Eugene schools are resistant to the over the counter pesticide shampoos that were available a year or so ago. [See point 5 in the summary of key points.] The suffocating treatment detailed above isn’t FDA approved, but worked for us with the nit comb and the clothes dryer. Your milage may vary. In addition, there are some new products to try, if you’d rather.

Good luck!

Menus for instruction

From ILI post  [ili-l] Follow up: Menu of services and timeline for course instructors
sent:Sunday, August 09, 2015 11:24 AM

Links to menus:









  • Candice Benjes-Small and Blair Brainard

And today we’ll be serving: An instruction a la carte menu

Coll. res. libr. news February 2006 67:80-96


Candice Benjes-Small Radford University, Jennifer L. Dorner University of California, Berkeley, Robert Schroeder Portland State University. Surveying Libraries to Identify Best Practices for a Menu Approach for Library Instruction Requests. Vol 3, Issue 1, 2009.[]=Vol3-2009AR2&path[]=84