Why active learning? Part 2

Another plea and example for how to teach without lecture from David Pangelley, a mathematician. I particularly like:

“Countless times as a lecturer, students had tellingly told me “I understand perfectly when you lecture, but then I can’t do problems at home.” I slowly realized that while a lecture may feel extremely comfortable to teacher and student alike, and sometimes be inspirational, it accomplishes precious little to help students successfully do mathematics themselves.”


“While the traditional lecture paradigm could be called “I-You” for “I lecture, then you do homework after class,” what I describe can be labeled “You-You-We-You” for “You read and write, you prepare warm-up problems to bring to class, we master these together in class, and you do final homework after class.””


Biology animations

Cells Alive (http://www.cellsalive.com/) and virtual cell animations (http://vcell.ndsu.nodak.edu/animations/).


CSHL DNA Learning Center Animation Library: https://www.dnalc.org/resources/3d/

This isn’t an “animation” but it’s worth watching (at least once). My friend at UC Berkeley watched this in one of her undergraduate classes…

Protein synthesis: an epic on the cellular level – 1971. Stanford. Narrated by Paul Berg, 1980 Nobel prize for Chemistry.

https://youtu.be/u9dhO0iCLww, The action starts at 3:10

Organismal Bio animations from Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Cell Bio and Genetics animations also available – see Topics menu)



GeneEd from NLM (Choose topic to see animations)



Virtual Cell Animation Collection from the Molec and Cell Bio Learning Center (North Dakota State Univ)



DNA Learning Center from CSHL



General and Molecular Bio animations from Sumanas, Inc.




Higher Ed animations from Concord Consortium (narrow to Bio in left-hand column)


2 exercises for teaching students how to read scientific papers

Below is a link to a poster from STS’s awesome poster session at the 2017 ALA Annual  conference with some interesting ideas about how to show students how to read primary research articles. Thanks to Rachel Hamelers of Muhlenberg College for sharing this great activity.

  1. Letting students know that they will have to come up with a reading practice – how they were doing to develop their own system for reading papers.
  2. Set up for two activities: Knowing where the information is located in an article is the first step to reading primary literature.
  3. Activity one: Have students bring in a printed out copy of the first week’s reading. Work with a partner and use whiteboards to fill in what information is in each section of a review article (abstract, intro, method, results and discussion).
  4. Activity two: Students were then given a new article and asked to find the answers to the following questions in a short amount of time: what was the question? [Find the question the researchers were trying to answer and where it is in the paper]; What did they do? [Summarize the methods the authors used]; What did they find? [Summarize the results]; How will you make this article useable to yourself in a week, month or year? [Students encouraged to come up with a framework that will work for them…]; How do you interpret the figures? [Work in smaller groups on these and then share as a class.]


All of the posters are here: http://acrl.libguides.com/c.php?g=687051&p=4984254

Rachel’s poster is here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2hPNiaf_zmwcF91MC1nRVFheEE/view

What do you call LibGuides?

from an ILI thread:

  1. from CBS:

“I’ve been doing usability tests of library sites since 1998 and one constant is that patrons don’t *have* vocabulary for some of our stuff.  It’s like if someone popped the hood of my car, pointed to some part of the engine, and asked me what I’d call it.  Doohickey?  Roundish thing sort of adjacent to the battery?

Even back in 1998, we had lists of resources, which we called Research Guides.  In usability tests, a few students who had had numerous instruction sessions which included these items called them “Research Guides.”  Some students called them, “that page the librarian showed me that one time.”  When asked to give it a name, or what you’d call it if you were describing it to a friend? Blank stares, consistently.

Every usability study I’ve done since (including one my co-workers did before our Website redesign last year) have  the same results, at least with undergraduates.

This 2012 article from portal is really interesting, especially about the differences in perspectives of graduate students, undergrads, and librarians.  Sinkinson, C. & Alexander, S. & Hicks, A. & Kahn, M. (2012). Guiding Design: Exposing Librarian and Student Mental Models of Research Guides. portal: Libraries and the Academy 12(1), 63-84. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Retrieved July 28, 2017, from Project MUSE database.”

2. “We call our guides research guides or subject guides and we describe them as “condensed versions of the website.””

3. “You make a great point about usability in general: when students are faced with a long list of links, they are a) less likely to select the best resource(s) for their information need(s) and b) less likely to make any selection.  In general, library websites require students to make far too many choices.  We simplified our library website two years ago, and the increase in usage was dramatic.

With respect to LibGuides, I was similarly under the impression that “Research Guides” was a very clear label.  And then we did some usability testing 🙂  The majority of students in our usability study had difficulty determining what type of resource they might find under the research guides link.  (Task achievement was poor.)

This semester, we’ll be asking students what they think we should call our research guides.  For now, we’re calling our research guides “Research Starters & Tips,” although I’m tempted to change that to “Research Tip Sheets” before the fall semester begins.”

4. “I explain LibGuides as simply a “guide” or a “research starting point”. I think many students may not fully understand what “guides” are.
I recommend this article on the analysis of web site vocabulary (comparing students vs. librarians’ preferences)
Polger, M. A. (2011). Student preferences in library website vocabulary. Library Philosophy and Practice, 1-16.”


The Mathlete program chapter is published!

I am thrilled to announce that the chapter that I wrote with former math library student employee, Gen Schaack, about the Math Library student (AKA the Mathlete) program has been published. The book was edited by an impressive team at UNLV and showcases the rich educational opportunities that we provide here at the UO Libraries. I’ll post/deposit a .pdf of the chapter when it is available.

Because we ARE awesome

I asked medical librarians to share examples of being thanked in articles and I got such a wonderful reply. Links to many of the articles are on this NCBI list [because you all are amazing, it’s a long list!]:


Some of the other replies I got are here. Do feel free to contact me if you’d like more details, I will save the sources from the emails I got:

-Rich, M, & Lavallee, K. The Mediatrician’s advice for today’s media mentors. In: Donohue, C. Family engagement in the digital age: Early childhood educators as media mentors. New York, NY: Routledge; 2017.
–“We gratefully acknowledge the input of Jill R. Kavanaugh, MLIS, who constructed and performed the literature search and provided suggestions throughout the process of developing this chapter.”
-Rubenzahl, R, Lavallee, K & Rich, M. Using technology and media in early childhood settings. In: Lesaux N & Jones S. The Leading Edge of Early Childhood Education:
Linking Science to Policy for a New Generation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press; 2016.
–“We gratefully acknowledge the input of Jill R. Kavanaugh, MLIS, who constructed and performed the literature search and provided suggestions throughout the process of developing this chapter.”
-Bickham, DS, Hswen, Y, & Rich, M. (2015). Media use and depression: exposure, household rules, and symptoms among young adolescents in the USA. International journal of public health, 60(2), 147-155.
–“The authors would like to thank Jill Kavanaugh, MLIS and Lauren Rubenzahl, EdM for their assistance with this article.”
“We would like to express our appreciation to the Medial Librarian at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Kathy Zeblisky, for her help in identifying and gathering the updated research in this edition.  Despite the ease of Internet searching, professional librarians are still essential to ensure a thorough search and full access to resources”.

“Wong, K.C. (2016). Correlation between serum lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and seizure – an observation in clinical cases. International Journal of Advances in Science, Engineering and Technology, 4(1, Spl. Iss-2), 99-103.

“I would like to thank Frances Guinness, Librarian at Bathurst & Orange Health Service Libraries at New South Wales, Australia, for her assistance in obtaining some relevant published articles cited in the references”
And the Library in this one:
Drabsch, T. (2015), Rural collaborative guideline implementation: Evaluation of a hub and spoke multidisciplinary team model of care for orthogeriatric inpatients – A before and after study of adherence to clinical practice guidelines. Aust J Rural Health, 23: 80–86. doi:10.1111/ajr.12139
“…and the Orange Health Service library staff who so efficiently helped the author access literature.” “

SLP Day of Teaching Workshops 2017

The SLP Day of Teaching Workshops ( http://scilit.uoregon.edu )

It was one of the most useful days of instruction about instruction I have had in a very long while. I am so grateful for the organizers and presenters for putting on this excellent program:




teaching citations

old school game:


multiple choice activity:


Faculty Success Program: Pedagogy

Resources: Concerns about student evaluations: TEP has resources for you on their web site.

Backward design: Fink, L. (2013). Creating significant learning experiences : An integrated approach to designing college courses (Revised and updated ed., Jossey-Bass higher and adult education series). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Online library copy.

Think of the story arc for the course. Big picture, also the details, with some flexibility. Different learning styles in the classroom – lecture, calling out, turn to your neighbor, group work, whole class discussion. Have some narrative closure and also keep things current.

Tiny tools for studio based classes and for other kinds of classes too. The class is a journey, they have to go somewhere, need to check in where they are in regards to the subject matter. Mark the beginning by sharing their narrative. Use a memo, send it anytime, mark if it’s ok to share or keep private. How the course is landing, showing up in your own life. Around mid-term, but not  Mid-term: stop-start-continue. What stop doing? Start: What not doing but could be doing? Continue:What’s working?

Towards the end of the course: draw a time line on the board, showing speakers, assignments, etc. Use guided meditation/journaling. Think about 1st day of class and think forward to now – who are you now? Identify 2 points of transformation. Share in small groups. Giving tools to students while they are learning.

Teaching methods: group work – tension between have each person understand everything and having a split of some people do all the work and others who slide by; have a self evaluation – group grade on project, individual paper responding to group stuff, but is an individual grade. Have students reflect on what they did and turn that in. They don’t like group projects, but teaching real world skills. Tell them that at the beginning.

Have a group communicator who can report to the instructor.

Look in the literature: biggest take home, don’t give them a project they could do on their own!

TEP has a handout; Sierra has something from a MOOC to share.

Peer evaluations: what are those like? See more here: http://academicaffairs.uoregon.edu/content/peer-evaluation-teaching

Including tools, same link as above, observation rubric – research based, meet beforehand, talk about the syllabus, goals, connect to have you

Make a commitment to do them systematically. Easier, you know what you’re trying to do, clear organized process.

Ask TEP to come and do confidential observations, loose notes, not official evaluation process.

Strategies for dealing with bias in student evaluations:

Fix the all caps emails or the Miss Gash or first name emails; introduce self as Professor Gash, all emails/communication must be addressed as Prof. —-.  This gives you a moment to remember who I am and the things you might say to Professor Gash, and it might be different than what you’d say to Alison. Hoping that if you think about this as you start you won’t say things you might later regret.

Mike Urbancic found this awesome flowchart from Andrea Eidinger to use as a slide for his class.

Puts them on notice about a lot of explicit things.

Find positive ways to share intellectual journey, research identity. Follow a question to its conclusion. Librarians are interested in teaching these (and more): Scholarship is a conversation and Research as Inquiry!

Teaching a 400/500 level class: have some ideas, but would love tips.

Didn’t work to teach both, taught toward the undergrads, thoughts for grad students, more work for me, research paper. Never successful the other way around.

Resented that had to teach 2 classes for the price of 1. Have grad students be mentors to undergrads. Depends on the mix too. Have grad students share what they discuss with undergrads.

Invite them to use the course for their own insight. Have them observe the arc of the discussion, instead of participate and report back.

Being careful not to use them as unpaid GEs!

Help them figure out their goals and design syllabus for their own interests.

Sierra Dawson’s blog for teaching large classes.[mentioned after formal panel]

TEP handout for mid-term evaluations and upcoming TEP events.

Why I print things on dead trees and hand them out in classes

From the enduringly excellent Nielsen Norman Group is this article, “Reading Content on Mobile Devices“, by KATE MEYER which repeats tests done for reading speed and accuracy on mobile devices  and computers. Folks are getting better about reading on mobile devices, I’ll have to accept that and move on. However, it takes longer and is harder for readers to understand more difficult material on mobile devices. I wonder if this too will change, although I suspect that will take longer. So, for now, if I want students to read and understand relatively complex material I’ll continue to print it out and bring it to class, since many of us will be using our mobile devices to read it otherwise.

Also, while they recommend open ended questions instead of closed ones, and I agree with them for some purposes, I think our work on assessment keeps the questions deliberately closed for useful reasons. For one, it’s more in line with the Kirkpatrick levels. Closed-ended questions keep the options limited for the purposes of learning and assessing goals. We hope they also do these three things that are from the list of when to ask closed ended questions from the article:

“When collecting data that must be measured carefully over time, for example with repeated (identical) research efforts

When the set of possible answers is strictly limited for some reason

After you have done enough qualitative research that you have excellent multiple-choice questions that cover most of the cases”

We hope to be doing this over time, the possible answer are limited to conform to our learning outcomes and we do hope that they are excellent questions that cover the cases that we are interested in measuring.