UoL Library Blog

Develop, debate, innovate.

The left handed biochemist

Posted by knockels on 4 November, 2008

Well, that might have caught your eye.   This is in fact a post about what we teach when we teach information literacy skills.

A posting on Twitter caught my eye, mentioning The Journal of the Left Handed Biochemist.  A quick search using G****e led me to it, and it turns out to be a blog maintained by Chris Willmott in Biochemistry at this very University.  I had a browse of the blog, and found this posting, about information literacy.  

Chris argues that finding material has got easier, but that evaluating it has got harder.  He refers to a paper published by people at a college in Minnesota, who get their students to produce an annotated bibliography.  This involves them in critiquing the material they have found, and in looking within that material for tables and figures that are of interest to their studies.   This happens within the context of an immunology and parasitology module.

I think there is still a place for teaching efficient searching – it is easy to find something, but if you need to be sure that you have found as much as there is (or as near to it as you can), that is harder.   But there is, I am sure, a place for a debate over the most useful skills to teach, and at what level of a course to teach them.   I was very interested to read Chris’ post, and have a copy of the study he refers to, so we can return to it in due course when planning for next term/year.

I also appreciated the end of the post: “An awareness of the current literature is as important to scientific research as the careful design of adequate controls“ [this is a quote from someone else].  This being the case, Information Literacy is too significant to be left to osmosis.”

3 Responses to “The left handed biochemist”

  1. gazjjohnson said

    *round of applause* I’m off to hopefully teach some PhDs some elegant and efficient searching. I always sell my sessions on “Saving you time by being effective”, since that appeals to emotive and logical parts of their brains.

  2. sarahw9 said

    Yes I saw that. We are all now well versed in the idea that the future is no longer search (not saying we will abandon it totally yet) but in evaluation and contexualisation and so on.

    Librarians often see themselves as the people well placed to take on the role of information literacy teaching / consultant. The big question is ‘are they?’. Should these types of skills should be taught by the academics so that it becomes a part of their whole approach to scholarship rather than an ‘add on’ skill. To be valuable it has to be integrated into the course. Then again, academics are probably quite happy to farm out as much of this kind of teaching as possible.

    What level of subject knowledge do librarians need to be effective teachers of this type of material?

  3. sarahw9 said

    and I’ve added it to the blogroll!

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