Thursday, 3 March 2016

Getting back into teaching

Almost any academic librarian nowadays will tell you that teaching is part of their role, usually delivering study skills or research skills sessions to their students. In my previous blog post (The reality ofdownsizing) I discussed how I’m hoping to build the reputation of my Library service as one that is at the heart of the College in delivering research skills support. I hadn’t delivered a research skills induction for several months since moving to my new post. However, yesterday I was back in the swing of things, delivering five back-to-back, 20 minute sessions on Advanced Research Skills to groups of Year 12 students who are thinking about starting their EPQ process.

The EPQ – Extended Project Qualification – is a stand-alone Level 3 award which allows students to develop and extend their knowledge of their curriculum subjects or pursue an area of personal interest. It is based on a topic chosen by the students and can take the form of a 5000 word report or an ‘artefact’ accompanied by a 1500 word report. It is an opportunity to show potential universities and employers that they have well developed, independent research, time and project management skills. Grades are based on both the final piece of work and the process which students record in their project log. Students are graded based on how well they identify and use resources, carry out research, develop their ideas to realise an outcome and then reflect on the outcome and the process.

My role was to prepare students for the secondary research involved in their EPQ process, whether they are still trying to decide on which topic to focus on, or whether they are looking for in-depth information to support their chosen title.

I planned my session around 6 main themes: planning your research; high-quality and reliable resources available through the College; tools and techniques to effectively search the internet; judging the quality of information on the internet; recording all sources for referencing; where to go for help.

It felt really good to be delivering research skills inductions again. As I was several months out of practice I did have to write myself a script to make sure I didn’t miss anything out but had prepared well so I wasn’t bound to it. I tried to encourage student engagement by asking them questions throughout but, as is often the case with this age group, I got very little response! I wasn’t too worried though as I noticed a lot of engagement and silent participation in the session with most students looking at me and making lots of notes.

Whilst I saw around 120 students these were only the Year 12s that were interested in starting the EPQ process. However, each tutor attended the session with their group and has seen the type of support I can offer so I’m hoping that further induction bookings will start to come in.

The only thing I didn’t prepare for was the afternoon slump! I was keyed up all morning as I worked through the sessions until lunchtime, however after lunch I couldn’t get motivated to do anything!