In late August 2009 while visiting with friends in San Jose, I received a desperate call asking “Would you teach one of the Library Studies courses this semester?” Little did I know just how addicting teaching, assessment, and working with students and faculty to be. My Italian professor used to dance in front of the class singing that he would be the Candyman, the Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus for what he would teach you with Italian. So far, I have restrained myself from doing the same, but I make no promises for future classes.
In these 2 years, I’ve managed to teach 10 different classes in both the community college and four-year university setting. Mishaps and pitfalls, breakthroughs and new explorations all characterize who I am and how I teach today. While waxing poetic about myself would be great for the job market, it just wouldn’t be me. Instead, I’d like to share some of my *preliminary* musings and findings about teaching in these communities.
There is something to said about maturity
While teaching for my first year was only in the community college setting, I became accustomed to having a majority of students 1) who had dealt with libraries and research in some form in their other classes and 2) were taking this in their last semester before graduation. In my first session at the four-year institution, I found that the same teaching strategies DO NOT WORK ON FRESHMEN. Granted many different factors come into play, such as previous library exposure, what quality of high school education they received, and general academic maturity, but never again will I assume students want to learn like I do/did. This maturity/motivation/generation factor also played out in other ways such as email usage (or notsomuch…).
Just because you use Facebook/MySpace/Twitter doesn’t mean you’re tech saavy
Based on the stereotypes, digital natives (Gen X & especially Gen Y/Millennials) are natural technology savants and other generations are a bit more hit/miss as digital immigrants. However, my returning adult students who swore up and down that they were “not good with computers” perservered and, occassionally, got very creative with ensuring their academic success despite tech failing beyond their control. At the same time, I had some of those Millennials get stuck using Google Docs; having the assignment worth 20% of their grade wasn’t motivation enough to try and troubleshoot it. In short, stereotypes and assumptions still, in the words of Samuel L. Jackson, make an ass out of you and umption. Nevertheless, technology will impact their motivation do complete citations. Freshmen LOVE using citation builders while some adult students REFUSE to use them. When I say LOVE, I mean I couldn’t get anything resembling a proper citation in any format out of 90% of my freshmen until I had them use Noodletools Bib Express or other builders. When I say REFUSE, I mean that even though the school paid for a subscription for all students to have and use a Noodletools account during their entire academic career, were taught in class how to use it, and were required to use Noodletools to complete course assignments, they would actively tell me in person that they would not use it.
For now, I’ll leave my thoughts to this, but I’ll be reviewing my past work a lot this summer to explore core information literacy trends and behaviors. If there’s something you’d be interested in getting data/analysis on, don’t hesitate to ask.