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I’m not entirely sure what my focus will be for this course, but I’m on the job market and have several teaching presentations coming up.

I think my focus will be on these presentations and the instructional framework they want me to address. For example, one presentation is about using an online tool I develop to teach a distance class about a database.

Using that as my focus, here’s the Situational Factors worksheet:

1.  Specific Context of the Teaching/Learning Situation
How many students are in the class? Is the course lower division, upper division, or
graduate level? How long and frequent are the class meetings? How will the course be delivered: live, online, or in a classroom or lab? What physical elements of the learning environment will affect the class?

This is already an issue. As an artificial teaching presentation, I don’t have an actual class to work with. Interestingly, I’ll actually be presenting to a group of librarians and other faculty, staff, and students who attend the presentation.

I do know that the presentation will be live, with a demonstration/explanation of an online tool used for the ‘actual’ instruction to the distance course.

I have about 30 minutes, so that would be the upper limit of the tool/instruction I present.

I have to present a database. My thoughts now are to use Web of Science as the database and I’m interested  in exploring making a guide on the side as the ‘tool’ I create.

I assume this would be no more advanced than a mid-level course (sophomores or possibly juniors). In order to create a meaningful presentation and a meaningful experience in this course, I will ask the search committee if they have thoughts about a class size or cohort information.

2. General Context of the Learning Situation
What learning expectations are placed on this course or curriculum by: the university, college and/or department? the profession? society?

It’s not clear why the search committee is looking for a database demonstration. I will also contact them to see if they see this demonstration as tying directly to an objective for all students.

3. Nature of the Subject
Is this subject primarily theoretical, practical, or a combination? Is the subject primarily
convergent or divergent? Are there important changes or controversies occurring within the field?

There are no controversies surrounding using a database, though it strikes me as odd to require a database demonstration as a teaching presentation. It has been my sense that demonstrations are not particularly valuable in terms of determining teaching efficacy.

The use of a database is both practical and theoretical. The individual steps needed to successfully perform a search or track citations are fairly clear and could be performed by rote. The decision to use a particular database, the construction of a search, and the use of results all require some theoretical knowledge about information, its organization, and the purpose searching for both the particular need and in general. Understanding the need for particular types of resources should foreground the use of a database.

4. Characteristics of the Learners

What is the life situation of the learners (e.g., working, family, professional goals)? What prior knowledge, experiences, and initial feelings do students usually have about this
subject? What are their learning goals, expectations, and preferred learning styles?

The students in this scenario are understood to be distance learners. We can assume that many if not most have used the internet before and primarily use Google or a similar search engine for most of the information searching. It is likely that many of the students have not used the particular database demonstrated and many may not have used any library database before this demonstration.

Since this scenario is divorced from an actual class situation, it’s not clear what the students have as learning goals or expectations.

I’m skeptical about “preferred learning styles” and I’m unclear what is meant here. Based on a keynote presentation I attended at LOEX this year, I’m unconvinced that “learning styles” is a useful characteristic to consider. Preferences about learning may be useful and it is safe to say that all of these students, being distance students, are at least assuming that they will be comfortable learning in an online environment.

5. Characteristics of the Teacher
What beliefs and values does the teacher have about teaching and learning? What is
his/her attitude toward: the subject? students? What level of knowledge or familiarity doess/he have with this subject? What are his/her strengths in teaching?

I believe that teaching is a collaborative process between students and teachers and that each person in the interaction has the possibility of being a student, a teacher, or “the” student or teacher, depending on how the interaction progresses. Flexibility is key. In this particular case, this is a challenge, as I’ll be presenting a ‘lesson’ artificially as I might teach it in an asynchronous (I assume) online environment where real-time collaboration isn’t possible.

I have a strong belief in the necessity of the subject (strong database use skills) but concerns about ‘database demonstration’ as an appropriate lesson focus. I am invested in students understanding the value of this database and its potential to help them with the schoolwork and non-schoolwork information questions. I do not have any particular attitude toward these ‘students’ as they are imaginary and highly artificial. I do think that distance students should not be assumed to be completely comfortable online and I try to be understanding of the technological as well as conceptual problems they may face.

I am very familiar and knowledgeable about searching in general and have a moderate to high level of felicity with Web of Science. I am always interested in teaching it since there’s lots to explore and student questions always end up leading to interesting discoveries about what the database can offer.

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