What academics say
Dr Safeera Hussainy
Lecturer and Stream leader (Pharmacy Practice) – Pharmacy Education Team
Centre for Medicine Use and Safety
Dr Safeera Hussainy identified a need for the Library to be involved to help improve students' information literacy and critical analysis skills specifically for two units. For Pharmacists as communicators, the Library staff together with another pharmacist tutor and Safeera ran tutorials that helped undergraduate students prepare for an oral exam on communication weighted at 40 per cent. For Pharmacy in a public health context, the Library staff with PhD students and Safeera conducted workshops informed by the RSD framework that helped undergraduate students prepare for an assignment on evidence-based practice worth 10 per cent.
Team-teaching the topics was enjoyable for the teachers and beneficial for the students. Students received feedback from two people rather than one, providing them with a holistic view of their performance. The class became more manageable and efficient to run. It also helped students feel better prepared for the task ahead and provided the teachers with a sounding board for their ideas.
Considering both programs are relatively new and have been extensively revised in approach and format, scores in the unit evaluations for both units have increased from year to year and students have commented that the support they received in the programs was invaluable. They felt they were able to consolidate their skills for the oral exam and better understand what was required of them in the evidence- based practice assignment.
Senior Lecturer, Convenor Legal Practice Program
Faculty of Law
The Law Library staff are involved in teaching research and writing skills to first year Foundation of Law LAW1101. They provide all students with a series of workshops focused on the first assessment (a court report), teaching them how to carry out legal research, write a thesis statement, structure the assignment and other areas of assignment writing specific to the requirements of legal education..
We have noticed a marked improvement in the academic level of students' first assessment since the Library staff have been involved in specifically focused classes relating to research and the first assessment task. For academics teaching this unit, we are able to have confidence that the students are receiving instruction in writing skills and then we can focus our attention on legal content. The students found the classes incredibly useful and were very grateful that Library staff were available on an individual basis to provide further instruction.
I would recommend a similar program to my colleagues. Library staff have various teaching skills associated with literacy that can be specifically focused on the needs of our students that we, as academics, do not necessarily have the skills, ability or time to teach.
Associate Professor & Undergraduate Course Convener, Occupational Therapy
Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
A long-term partnership exists between Librarians, Learning Skills advisers, and academic staff for a second-year evidence-based practice (EBP) unit for occupational therapy students.
The librarian teaches students how to format a Patient, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome (PICO) research question, where to search for credible research evidence, and how to use key search terms effectively. The Learning Skills adviser provides suggestions about how to format the search strategy report, as well as sharing advice on summarising, synthesising and integrating the evidence obtained.
Our team also collaboratively develops the unit, including developing new learning activities, assessment tasks and rubrics to encourage deeper student learning and engagement with new resources and technologies. These skills are scaffolded into a related third year unit where the team also collaborates to further develop student learning in EBP principles in a project based assessment task.
Students benefit from learning about the types of evidence that is available and where to source it. This type of program reinforces the skills that I am trying to instil in our students to be critical consumers of research evidence. Librarians and Learning Skills Advisers are skilled, knowledgeable, collaborative and flexible. They readily adapt their services to the needs of specific units that students take. It is a pleasure and a privilege to collaborate with Library staff in the delivery of high quality teaching and learning experiences with our students.
Dr Gerald Nagtzaam
Faculty of Law
Formerly, a foundation subject called Research and Writing aimed to give law students the requisite skills both to study and practise law. Skills taught in this unit are now taught through other law units. The skills the Library staff focus on are the research part of the equation, where they teach the first years how to comprehensively research within their chosen field.
Every subject we teach requires research skills. For myself, the Library program enabled me to brush up on skills I had let grow rusting. In particular, I found the work on utilising databases for research very valuable. Students saw that incorporating these skills led directly to better grades and by the end of the semester they were more than willing to learn these skills since they saw a direct benefit to themselves.
Feedback via unit evaluations has been overwhelmingly positive with many students noting how important it is to possess such skills and how they believe it has helped them improve as law students.
Dr Gillian Bowen
Centre for Archaeology and Ancient History
For first-year students, one tutorial during the semester is allocated to instruction in library skills, particularly in using the Search tool, conducted by a librarian with the tutor on hand to answer questions. For second and third-year students, a library skills tutorial has been embedded and its format has developed over time. This focuses on the use of databases, accessing quality resources and peer-reviewed journal articles and how these can assist students with their research essays. Another program, the Honours seminar, again embedded a library skills session focusing on databases and their use in finding research material as well as the use of Endnote.
I am now much more competent in my own library skills. From a teaching point of view, students can no longer argue that they are unfamiliar with the Library's resources.
The Library session helps first-years with transition issues as they become familiar with the library, its holdings and facilities, and its value as a friendly establishment where students can work together in groups or individually. Students then come to regard it as a place to study rather than to be avoided at all costs. They are generally unfamiliar with large libraries and seem to have accessed their data at school from the web. They are unfamiliar with the value of journal articles. Students in later years of their studies are able to broaden their use of the databases in their research rather than relying so heavily on one. Without exception, the Honours students found the sessions invaluable.
Professor Chris Davies
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Library staff has been involved in the Faculty of Engineering Summer Research Program (SRP) over the past few years. The program is not a unit for credit but a 12-week program for students in their penultimate year in which they undertake a research project.
The Library has contributed to skills development as part of the SRP. Students undertaking a research project also need to learn some of the communication skills necessary to be an effective researcher.
Dr Glen Croy
Department of Management
Discussing issues presented in assessment items with the Library team and using the Research Skill Development (RSD) framework has been an excellent reflection tool, and draws out new considerations of skill gaps and different ways to address them. The partnership has taken a student-centred approach, where a programme of RSD workshops for students was developed to enhance their skills based on their individual needs. The Library already offered these workshops. The key role of the faculty was the active promotion of the workshops to students, and connecting them more explicitly with the skills needing to be demonstrated in individual units. The other role the faculty played was to incentivise student participation.
A great student-focused team of staff working in partnership can better facilitate our students' research skill development. Students, whilst generally apprehensive at the beginning, could quickly identify the usefulness and application of the skills being developed, both in terms of repayment in their assessment programme as well as in realising better learning outcomes. Whilst the skills they develop are generally unit-specific, they can very well be applied to other units.