Scholarly Conversation Maps

I’ve been really inspired by the new Framework for Information Literacy.  It’s given me the language–and the validation–for the kind of active learning, feminist/critical pedagogy-based teaching that I’ve always tried to do.  This kind of teaching seems inevitable to me now.

So, yesterday I taught my first class of the semester (a communication studies senior research seminar), and I planned a slightly complex maneuver in which the students perused articles and then mapped them together on shared Google slides.  The activity was based on the threshold concept, “Scholarship is a Conversation,” and I actually told students that was the theme of the class and had us read aloud the famous Burkean Parlor passage at the beginning of class.

Take a look at the maps students produced:

Here’s the basic lesson plan:

  • (Before class, students are assigned to watch a series of videos about research tools and mindsets.)
  1. Introduce idea of “Scholarship as a Conversation” and read aloud about the Burkean Parlor. Tell students we’re going to do an activity to practice mapping academic conversations.
  2. Give pairs of students a slip of paper with an article citation in APA style and ask them to find the full text.  Have a couple students demonstrate how they found their articles.
  3. Direct students to class libguide with links to openly-editable Google Docs (example) for each group to write notes about their article (also provide students with a hard copy of the article).
  4. Have each group briefly report on their article to the class
  5. Have each group map the conversations between the articles on an openly-editable Google Slide (example).  Demonstrate how to draw lines and move the article boxes around. Encourage students to be creative as they represent connections between the articles.
  6. Discuss the article maps students have made, noting different types of connections that exist between articles.

The students and the professor responded well to this activity.  They are getting ready to write a literature review, so I think this was a great way to help them conceptualize academic conversations.

This was a labor-intensive class prep for me, but I think it was absolutely worth it.  Creating all the Google Docs is time-consuming, but the trickiest part was finding articles that related to each other and would demonstrate different types of connections (cited, related to the same seminal thinker, dealing with similar texts, using related methods, etc).

I’m looking forward to developing more creative approaches to teaching IL with the Framework this semester.

(And may I just rant, this whole petition to keep the Standards that’s going on is absolutely ridiculous and represents everything I hate about the library profession.  Passive aggression, resistance to change/new technology, fear of innovative teaching methods.  Blerg.  That is all.)