Increasing student engagement through successful collaborations

In Semester 1 2022, the Library’s Learning Support (LLS) team partnered with two teaching academics to co-design informative and engaging activities for their students around using primary source data bases.

Associate Professor Vesna Drapac from the School of Humanities, had observed that her students were often intimidated by primary source databases, often resorting to Google search. As Vesna highlighted "The University Library has so many databases that can enrich the research experience of History students. But the sheer number of such resources can be overwhelming and their functionality confusing. The challenge is to make these excellent databases readily accessible so that students can build and refine their research skills"

To assist, the LLS team designed a new MyUni page for Vesna’s second year History course, curating a targeted list of the more approachable primary source databases. Vesna is now able to use the page in a blended fashion, providing students with opportunities to practice using the databases during tutorials. She notes:

"The page that the team created contains direct links to a small group of relevant databases, provides useful tips on searching with key words and terms, and gives examples of the kinds of sources that students might find in each one. Importantly, it is perfectly pitched and thus manageable for Level 2 students. Thanks to Jasmine, I have also enjoyed great follow up already with advice on how to introduce students to the resources and how to integrate them into weekly exercises in preparation for the assignments as well as for discussions in tutorials"

Library walking

Dr Diana Tran, from the School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials has also recently worked with the LLS team to co-design an interactive module for her fourth-year Chemical Engineering capstone course. This module introduces students to higher level research skills needed at fourth year, Honours, and above. Diana spoke to the Team about her students need for support in broadening their literature searches and in critically evaluating what they found.

In response the LLS Team developed a series of four interactive activities and two formative quizzes.  These will guide students through crafting a search strategy, finding resources, branching out from what they find, and evaluating the quality of their sources.

Students are currently completing the self-paced module (during Week 3) in place of their regular face-to-face workshop. They will then have an opportunity to apply what they’ve learnt to their own research projects, in addition to posing questions to a Librarian in Week 4.

As these examples highlight, the Library’s approach to delivering learning and teaching support is highly collaborative, informed by contemporary learning design practice, and guided by our six Learning and Teaching Principles: Relevance, Collaboration, Flexibility, Accessibility, Innovation, and Evaluation.

If there is a gap in your students’ information skills that the Library could help fill with online and blended activities, please contact the Learning Support team or book a time to meet with your Liaison Librarian to discuss the needs of your students.

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