The goal of my teaching, and the center of my teaching philosophy, is to cultivate transformative learning by engaging students in critical inquiry, personal exploration and self-reflection. My teaching strategy focuses on the research process and the nature of information retrieval systems so students can leave my classroom with a more holistic understanding of the information environment they are living in. I also believe strongly in authentic teaching. I feel it’s important to be honest with our students about the complexity of doing research in today’s society and make an effort in every class to provide some time for them to express their own related frustrations and concerns.
Information literacy isn’t just about teaching a skill-set so students can find an answer to their question. It’s also about teaching them how to identify their own assumptions and preconceived opinions that often prohibit them from asking the right questions to begin with. Triggering their curiosity is key to keeping students engaged and informs the basis of all my teaching. I begin my instruction with a question. How do we know when something is true? What does it mean to be an expert in something? Where does our information come from? This prompts a discussion allowing students the opportunity to connect their learning with real life situations they can relate to.
In terms of information delivery, I rely on a variety of teaching methods. I teach primarily one-shots. In order to remain sensitive to time allowed and faculty requests, some of my instruction requires a certain amount of lecture or point and click demonstration. This is broken-up with active learning pieces and cooperative learning to maximize impact. I believe in using a constructivist approach and include a variety of formative assessments during class, such as reflective questioning and minute papers.
Lastly, I believe strongly in meeting students where they are. The majority of the students entering my classroom have, more than likely, been relying on Google as a research tool for many years. If that is where their comfort zone is then that is where I like to start. A few of my in-class activities are done before I have even introduced any of our library resources. It gives students a chance to solve an information need using the skills they have and tools they are familiar with. The point is not to steer them away completely from what they have always done and known, but to show them the difference between it and using library resources for research.