Using your teaching to generate a research project can lead to the publication of an article. That’s what three faculty members from the Department of Library and Information Studies did in order to study a strategy for teaching graduate students to write abstracts for their proposals in the program’s required Research Methods course. In 2011-2012, three different professors taught three sections of that course. The content of the course is the same across all sections, and diagrams of abstracts that labeled research design elements from actual articles (called worked examples) are included in the course materials. However, the faculty discovered that one instructor used the worked examples in an online lecture; a second instructor referred the students to the worked examples; and the third instructor made the worked examples available with little comment. These three approaches provided an opportunity in a natural learning settting to investigate whether high-medium-low exposure to worked examples had any effect on the quality of the abstracts produced by the students in the three sections. A content analysis that assigned numerical values to distinct research design elements and designated elements of composition was used to score the abstracts. A one-way ANOVA revealed that medium to high exposure to the worked examples made a significant difference in the inclusion of research design elements. A similar analysis showed that the examples did not have an effect on the quaity of writing. You can read about the study in the recently published article entitled “Writing Abstracts for MLIS Research Proposals Using Worked Examples: An Innovative Approach to Teaching Elements of Research Design” by Drs. Ondrusek, Thiele, and Yang. The article appears in the November 2014 issue of College & Research Libraries, a peer reviewed, open access journal considered one of the highest impact publications in the library and information science field (http://crl.acrl.org/content/75/6/822.full.pdf). The article was also profiled in the C&RL News “Spotlight” column (http://crln.acrl.org/content/75/10/578.full).
Submitted by Anita Ondrusek