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Exisiting OCN units to meet our needs_pilot

Page history last edited by wendy 11 years, 3 months ago

As a librarian I had identified a need for our learners, and in particular our A level learners, to develop their information literacy skills. Feedback form staff at our Higher Education   partners and from Higher Education in general suggested that learners were coming into University from school and college unable to search for, evaluate, use and reference information.

In addition, I beleive that as our society becomes more online with more instant access, it is a vital skill to be able to find information and quickly evaluate it for currency, relevance to need, accuracy and authority and intent. Indeed, this skill is almost as important as being able to read and write.


I spoke often and repeatedly to the Vice Principal for curriculum about this. He suggested that we run a course in this area as an additionality, making a win - win situation. Together we identified the OCN course available from the London and South East Region (LASER) entitled " Award in Research Skills for Academic Study" at level 3.


It was decided to run this as a pilot with the current AS learners at the end of their first year in the period between finishing their AS exams and the actual ennd of term.


The learning outcomes and assesment criteria are quite simple but of enormous value to learners at this level.


The GLH are 14 hours so I wrote a short scheme of work which covered all of the outcomes and then a Moodle course to support the delivery and learning.

The initial delivery took place in the lecture theatre to the whole cohort over 2 days, with further sessions in the Study Centre with 2 halves of the whole.


All the learners were enrolled onto the Moodle and I used the Moodle as a frame for the delivery in the lecture theatre, working on the principle that by going through the Moodle the learners would be aware of what was there and when they came to use it themselves they would have no difficulties in accessing or understanding the information.


I was assisted in the delivery by another member of the Study Centre staff who has a deal of library experience. The scheme of work and the Moodle were both assessed by the Head of Sixth form. He also suggested that I wrote an exmplar for the learners, which I did, and additionalyy I wrote a scaffold for the written peice.

In consultation with LASER we deiced to opt for a project proposal for the assessment piece with the addition of a short presentation. This gave us ample room for evidencing the assesment criteria.


We asked the A level teachers for some possible research quyestions and were able to offer the learners a list of 20 questions from different A level subject areas that they could use for their topic. If any learners did not want to do those questions, I helped them to write one on a topic they were interested in.


I was slightly unhappy with the delivery in the lecture theatre over a long period, since it was rather didactic and quite boring for the learners. The nature of the room does not lend itself to group work and the pressure of the time meant we could not send them away to do any work. However, we explained that if they go to universiy they will be expected to sit in lectures and take notes in this way.


The subsequent sessions in the Study Centre were very good. To see a whole group of learners using the online resources was very satisying.


We found that the learners had different responses to the format of the course. Some found no difficulty in reading the Moodle, extracting the nformation they needed, using the online and physical resources to search for their topic, evaluating their findings and writing up a decent project proposal which covered all of the criteria. Others found it very difficult to do any of this on their own and needed a lot of personalised help.


All of the learners demonstrated some degree of difficulty in evaluating the results. We used a literature review to evidence this and instructed the group that they must use at least three different sources of information. We gave them the examples of a book, a journal article and a website. Many of the learners had problems accepting that three different websites did not count, which suggested that they had not accepted that the World Wide Web is not the complete source of all information.


Some learners suggested that using a search engine such as Google was sufficient as a means to research their topic. Our efforts in  ensuring they used the library catalogue and the online resources widenend their experience in this area.


We also identified a difficulty in their use of keywords to search. Many learners would simply type their entire quesiton into Google or the e-journal database, so again we put considerable effort into showing them how to identify keyowrds and synonyms and to develop a strategy for poor results. Once again, the need to quickly evaluate their results was evident.


The unit includes the need to identify plagiarism and its consequences and again it was interesting how many of the group did not realise that paraphrasing without citing and referencing is plagiarism. Many recognised straight-forward cut and paste, but did not realise this is OK as long as it is clearly cited and referenced.


Building on this initial pilot, we ran this again in September 2012 with the new intake of AS learners. Doing the session right at the beginning of their course has introduced them to using the library catalogue and the electronic resources, extended their understanding of sources of information, improved their evaluation skills and taught them how to use their findings responsibly by citing and referencing.

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