I completed my second and final teaching observation in mid October. I was observed delivering a library and legal research induction lecture to 450+ first year undergraduate law students by my Pg Cert tutor. I am a guest lecturer on the Introduction to Law module, and so have some claim to being embedded in the curriculum. While I am very confident with my subject matter; I am less comfortable with lectures as an effective method for teaching information literacy skills. However, it is not currently practical to deliver the session in 10 x 2 hour small (50 student) group seminars.
The lecture theatre was full, and the students a little rowdy – it was a Friday afternoon, and I suspect many were either going to or coming from the pub! I had to make use of all my classroom management skills to take control of the lecture theatre and manage the students behaviour. At times, I had to interrupt myself to ask for quiet in the lecture theatre, which did disrupt my flow. I also suffered the indignity of my mouse falling off the lectern, and having to put it back together, while remaining composed! However, I was pleased when my observer commented that I managed the difficult situations well, and the disruption did not show in my lecture.
The first half of my lecture followed a standard library induction script. This is new for 2013/14, and is delivered by all liaison librarians at the university. The focus of the script is to provide general information about the library, and how the library can support students in higher education, rather than the detail about opening hours and borrowing rules. This included a live demonstration of a new interactive library map in Prezi format. I have had varied success with this, because the Prezi refuses to display in selected teaching rooms, but I was pleased that it worked in the large lecture theatre! My observer commented that I used different media formats well in my presentation.
The second half of my lecture enables me to deliver subject specific information. For example, finding books, journal articles, cases and legislation on a reading list. I was able to use real examples from their curriculum, which hopefully made the demonstration more immediately relevant to the students. I was also able to talk to students about the research they would need to complete for their forthcoming workshops and assignments. I then demonstrated Westlaw and Lexis Library, two of the key legal research databases. In a 1 hour lecture, there is not time to teach students how to use these databases, but I was able to show them how to access online training tutorials, and obtain certificates in database research skills.
In an ideal world, I would like to have a follow-up session with students in IT classrooms. I do this with other departments, for example criminology, and it is an effective way of assessing student learning, and providing feedback on any problems encountered. I have been surprised at the number of students who can not distinguish books from journal articles, let alone find them in a library. However, the size of the law cohort makes small group sessions like this impractical at the moment. I have since been invited to attend and present at a HEA workshop on Teaching Legal Research Skills with academics from the School of Law. I am keen to get involved, and find more effective ways to deliver legal research training, perhaps with the aid of technology.