I wrote a post last week about a class that didn’t go as well as I would have hoped. Well, thank God for “high-end” faculty-librarian collaborations! I had access to the students via ANGEL so I was able to send an e-mail to the entire class and reiterate the goals and instructions of their web searching/evaluating assignment. I was able to assure them that the assignment would be for practice purposes only and that I would follow up on their “best efforts” with positive feedback and constructive criticism. I stressed that the main goal of the assignment was to find additional content on their designated cultural group so that they would be prepared for group discussion during the next class session.

Some students e-mailed me with questions and a few came to see me at the Reference Desk for further help.  Overall, the websites they turned in were pretty good.  The annotations written included thorough summaries of the information provided within the chosen websites and, for the most part, very good reasons explaining why the webpages could be deemed “scholarly.”  In one particular case, the reasoning was so complete and on target that the student convinced me that the author was knowledgable and credible enough, thus affecting my first-glimpse evaluation of the site as more “newsy” and popular.

Not being available to sit in on the class discussion, I asked the professor how it went.  Here is her response:

It was awesome! We had what I think was a great discussion, made several comparisons, defined terms and processes, and identified patterns. I enjoyed it.

It would be great if you could drop by and explain the citation process. I too need a refresher on how to cite on-line sources!  15 min toward the end of class would be great.

Thanks, I am enjoying the class already!

Although we had not originally planned for a mini library session this past Tuesday, RM had me come to class to go over American Anthropologist citation style (of anything within the completed assignment, this was the students’ weakest part).  I also took the extra opportunity to cover some web search strategies that I was unable to teach the previous week.  Students were extremely attentive, contributed to the discussion of scholarly vs popular and even took notes.

In the end, as disappointed as I was last week, the relationship that is forming between me and RM and me and the ANTH 216 class has helped fill in whatever gaps were left in the classroom due to time constraints.  Additionally, despite an unexpected fire drill during the mini session and my concern that I would take up too much time from RM’s anticipated class discussion, she gave me all the time I needed to give students a complete run down of web searching and citations.

I am looking forward to meeting with seperate groups of ANTH 216 students to discuss the topic of their student-led discussion (each group is assigned one during the semester) and even brainstorm activities that will help engage the rest of the class in the conversation.

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Just thinking about the two reference student assistants that have been hired as counselors for this year’s summer camp. I bet they never imagined that by sitting in an ANTH class, infused with scholarly research instruction, they would take on a part-time job they love (that’s what they tell us!) and then be hired for two-weeks as summer camp counselors that will not only be loads of fun, but financially lucrative as well. Excellent salary plus room and board! Not to mention, possibly the best job they will ever have. At least, that’s the way I feel about the summer camp. Last year’s experience was the most fun I’ve ever had at work . . . and I really enjoy my everyday job. 🙂 There could have been a third student of embedded library instruction turned ref student assistant turned summer camp counselor but Sarah never got her application in!!! Sarah???!!!!! The Reference Librarians have been lucky to work with such motivated, bright and research-curious student assistants. We have cultivated these students from an INTD 101 First-Year Experience course (Shoot! The webpage is no longer live), from HIST and ANTH courses heavily infused with information literacy instruction, and sometimes, just from working side-by-side a librarian. Nicole is a perfect case of this last instance, as she has worked closely with Liz Argentieri, and will take over as classroom scheduling assistant in the fall. I hope to nominate Ali as a possible candidate for either a ref student assistant position or as a CTA (Classroom Technology Assistant). And then there are at least two students (who I already know are interested) from ANTH who I would love to work with us at the Ref Desk. I must remember to put all these names forth, but unsure what will happen with our recommendations if/when we get a new Head of Instruction and Reference.

I frequently think about past student assistants at the Reference Desk – Nicole, Karen, Josh, Katie, Lauren, Christina, Claire, Tomoko, Brian (my apologies for anyone I’ve left out) – and remember how much fun and learning they brought to both the reference librarians and the students they helped while working at the Ref Desk. They have taught us as much as I imagine we have taught them.