QQML conference this afternoon, a session on information literacy started with a presentation from Giovanna Badia (McGill University): Give Back to your Students! Methods for Authentically Assessing Information Literacy Instruction to Innovate your Teaching. The picture shows her coping with admirable calmness while various people tried to sort out the technical problems with the room's computer, before her talk started.
She started by defining authentic assessment as allowing students to chose their own topics to research for assessment. The context for the intervention she was describing was one taken by 90 chemical engineering students. She posed the questions to herself: could students understand her lecture on searching and could they apply it to their own search questions. Therefore she did a follow up questionnaire asking, for example, if they had used peer reviewed articles for their term paper topic (which they had chosen themselves) and asked them to search on Scopus for their topic and copy their search history. Gift cards were given as incentives. 40% of the class responded and 10 students took up an offer for further search help. From the survey: students found relevant results on avaerage in 3 different sources. Common issues were over-broad topics and too many search results.
As a response to this, Badia took an action research approach and designed an activity. She put the students in groups. They had to create a research question incorporating one or more words from a list (the list was compiled by looking at previous students' term paper topics). She made it into a game, where there was a prize for the best research question - as the activity progressed students got better and better at critiquing the research questions.
She also introduced a pre and post test which included ranking search strategies. Then, once again she had a follow up survey, adding a search strategy ranking exercise. Whilst the post test showed improvement in search strategy judgement, the responses to the later survey showed the students had slipped back somewhat. This time a finding of note was that students were using insufficient numbers of concepts. Badia aims to introduce a new activity to help with this issue, the next time the class runs. Badia gave some tips at the end, including that she got better responses to surveys by handing them out in class, and if they are in colour they stand out more (a colleague suggested that perhaps students felt guilty walking out of the clas without doing it, when the paper was such a distinctive colour!)