WAAL10: Information Literacy in a Biology Lab

Posted by Lisa Strand on Thursday, April 22, 2010 in WLA Blog Archive
Information Literacy in an Animal Behavior Lab
Susan Heffron and Eric Thobaben, Carroll University

* Front-loaded into first two semesters of Biology

* 1st library session -

* Overview of applicable library resources

* Scholarly vs. popular, primary vs. secondary

* At end - ok, everyone feel 100% confident about these resources?  [they think they are]

* Lab -

* Observation of an organism (amphipod) in clear plastic cups of water, with leaves and twigs - model system

* What questions can you generate?  "Just be 10" - totally open to anything

* 2nd library session -

* We pair students and have them highlight words in printed article abstracts that relate to these organisms

* We compile a master list of keywords from students' reports back - keywords, and what they think the article was about

* "OK, now get started!"  [They realize they've forgotten everything from 1st library session.  We're comfortable with their discomfort.]  "Who would like a refresher - which databases?"

* Students start asking: "Is this okay, Dr. Thobaben?" - review of scholarly, primary research

* Recognition of scientific article vocabulary, pieces & parts (abstract, methods, etc.) - 2nd semester lab, we have them spend an entire period reading an article from start to finish

* What can they take from methods section that they can take back to the lab and use to experiment with their amphipods? - not repeating, but getting inspiration - how generate data?  how measure?  how control? - up until now, we've only given them the T-test (compare x to y)

* What will help them to answer the questions they generated through initial observation?  Do more observation and develop explicit questions you could test.  How would you measure behavior?

* Thinking like a biologist: Observation - generation questions - finding key words - selecting articles - knowledge application - experimental design

* Future labs - do more and more on their own, build on what they've learned; assignment: write a grant proposal, librarian assists with finding funding sources

* Juniors/seniors can work with faculty doing research - one of them actually does use amphipods to study the behavior of cannibalism

* Other assignments require multiple iterations of a report (proposal, draft, final) - which require 4, 6, 10 citations.
Tags: 2010, WAAL
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