Conference Presentation Feedback, Part 5: Print journals?

(See this post for an introduction to this blog series.)

So the first example I used in my presentation was a collection of excerpts from minute papers that eventually convinced me that a large portion of our students, given a journal article citation, don’t know how to find it in a collection of bound print journals, even when those journals are shelved alphabetically by title, not by call number.

One of the “one thing I’m still confused about” comments read: “I’m still confused on why you’re teaching print articles.”

Now, there are two ways of understanding this comment, and I’m not sure which one is correct:

  1. Why are you spending time teaching a very rudimentary skill that sufficiently motivated students will learn on their own, when you could be spending time teaching Big Important Information Literacy Concepts like how information gets created and disseminated? That’s a very good question. I’m not sure how to answer it, except to say that it’s clear that our students don’t, in fact, know how to do this, and I worry that they are not actually sufficiently motivated to figure it out on their own.  Some of them will, of course — they tend to be the students we don’t see all that often, because they do figure stuff out on their own.  But others won’t, and my librarianly DNA cringes at the thought of students giving up when the “perfect” source is available right in our library, just because the organizational system for print journal articles — which nobody has ever taught them — is too intimidating for them to navigate on their own.But the comment did make me think hard about whether it’s worth spending precious class time on what is, really, a pretty rudimentary skill.  I’ve long had fantasies of developing a separate learning object, probably a video, on this topic, so that I can offload some of that work from in-person class to offline learning.  Now I’m even more motivated to do just that.
  2. Why are you spending time teaching students how to find print articles? Haven’t you converted all your print subscriptions to online by now? No. No, in fact, we haven’t converted all of our print subscriptions to online. Actually, we are just beginning to convert some of our current subscriptions to online format.  And we certainly haven’t converted our extensive backfiles of bound periodicals to online.  So, as I say over and over to our students, we still have quite a large number of articles and journals that are available in print, and only in print.  So, yes, they do still need to know how to do this.

Next up: self-reporting vs. “actual” assessment, or, formative vs. summative!