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Librarian/Adjunct Instructor

December 21, 2018

Back in May, I was lucky (?) enough to be asked to teach a section of First-Year Seminar at W&J. I had never taught a semester-long, course so I was nervous to take on this challenge. At W&J our FYS classes have shared learning outcomes but you can create your course around any topic that you would like. I called my course, The Secret Life of Information, the same title a previous library staff member had used when they taught FYS several years ago.  Throughout the semester we talked about everything from time-management, study skills, and stress-coping techniques to the Research Process, Source Evaluation, and Copyright Law. In addition to working with the students in class, I also served as their academic advisor and got to work with them to plan their spring class schedule. I got really invested in my students and I look forward to following their successes in college. Many things went well in this class and others did not. I thought I’d share some of my favorite assignments/interactions.

For mid-term, my students chose a current topic in information and did an annotated bibliography. In addition to the annotated bibliography, I asked them to attach a “memo” to their assignment in which they told me about two sources they didn’t include in their bibliography and why. Through this assignment and the memo in particular I could really see how attending the library session on searching library resources and evaluating sources had helped. Many students reflected that they had found sources using Google that they would previously have used for assignments but after learning about the library’s resources and how easy it was to use filters in our discovery tool, they knew they could find more scholarly articles on their topics. It was nice to see that connection and hear that feedback which we often miss out on after our one-shot interactions.

Later in the semester, I invited another librarian to class to talk to the students about copyright and fair use. My colleague Beth & I worked together to come up with a lecture session where she reviewed copyright basics and then we talked about sampling in music and listened to a few examples. We used Weird Al, Robin Thicke/Marvin Gaye, Girl Talk, and Vanilla Ice/Queen to talk about fair use. After that I split the students into groups and assigned them to three well-known copyright/fair use cases: The Prince Dancing Baby, the Sony Betamax case, and Hustler vs. the Moral Majority. The students used the rest of the class period to prepare for a debate that would be held during the next class. Each group got to present their side of the case, for copyright infringement or for fair use, give a one-minute rebuttal to the other side’s argument, and then the rest of the class acted as the jury. The students did a nice job with their arguments addressing all four factors of fair use, even when they didn’t personally agree with the side of the case they had been assigned to. The Betamax students had a really hard time arguing against what allows us to have OnDemand streaming now. Some of the students seemed to really latch on to this assignment, treating it as their own personal episode of Law & Order which made it really fun to grade.

We also did a class session using Legos to recreate an experiment on whether following step-by-step instructions versus free building affects creativity and then used our in-class results to connect to where you can find information in a scholarly article. This session was one of my favorites and in hind-sight I would have put it in a different place in the semester because it opened the door to talk more about scholarly communication and the ways that scientific results can be reported.

I don’t know if I’ll be asked to teach FYS again but I hope that I will because I feel that I learned so much and I want to have the opportunity to do it again, but better! Having said that, I am looking forward to the Spring Semester when I can remove “/Adjunct Instructor” from my work role and just focus on being a librarian again.

Best wishes for a restful holiday break to all!

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