*A cross-posting from the Re:Generations blog*
With the Winter semester in full-force, I’ve been doing the usual information-literacy tour. We usually show students some key library resources, give them a little virtual tour of our LibGuides, and then hone in on a few tools and resources we think are going to be useful for their work in that class. This isn’t a perfect model for teaching, but it seems to hold the attention of most of the class, and then often have a question or two.
This past week, at the request of the instructor, I switched things up a bit and focused less on tools, and more on higher-level thinking. I discussed concept of critical thinking, information literacy, and the application of these concepts to their real-world information seeking, be it for their assignments, or down the road as professionals in the field. It was one of the trickiest presentations I’ve ever put together, because I too had to step back and figure out what exactly we’re all doing here — librarians, professors, students — and why any of this matters.
Frankly, I thought it was awesome. I even used a tasty analogy: ” You can’t have a delicious meal without starting with high-quality ingredients. Similarly, you won’t be able to write a good paper — no matter how smart you are — without high-quality resources. Think of wikipedia as the Taco Bell meat of the research world.” That’s cute, right?!
Well, I have never seen a class of more bored-looking 18 year olds in my life. And I’ve seen a lot of bored 18 year olds in my day, lemme tell ya. It was really dissuading and I vowed never to bother trying to integrate concepts of higher-level thinking into my teaching again. Then I went home and ate some ice cream. My bruised ego has recovered, but I wonder: Is there any point it trying to force students to care about information and research, beyond what they need to get a decent mark? Are there better ways to impart these complex concepts that doesn’t induce total boredom?
Libraryland tends to be critical of tools-based information literacy, but I’m a pragmatist: If tools are going to keep them from literally putting their heads down and going to sleep during my presentations, then tools they shall GET.
Have you ever successfully (or unsuccessfully!) integrated discussions of higher-level thinking into your teaching? Do you think it’s something to reserve for students in third or forth year? Or perhaps there are programs that are more hospitable to such discussions than management (i.e. philosophy)?