How can school librarians prepare students for Higher Education? - Jo Alcock Consulting
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How can school librarians prepare students for Higher Education?

How can school librarians prepare students for Higher Education?

I was recently invited to speak to a group of school librarians in Hatch End about how they can start to prepare students for university. I gave a similar presentation last November at the Digital Natives event for school librarians, though I updated my presentation and added views of other academic librarians.

I asked my network on Twitter the question:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/joeyanne/status/78373494366281728″]

It was really interesting to hear their responses, many of which echoed points I had raised earlier in the presentation (thankfully!). I grouped the responses from Twitter based on themes, and presented them all with the most frequently mentioned theme first (you probably won’t be too surprised to learn that referencing was the most common response!).

Below is an embedded version of my full presentation including a student’s typical journey through the first few months of university, the skills necessary at each stage, some resources to help students develop those skills, and the views of other academic librarians.

The presentation is released under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license – please feel free to reuse it where appropriate (or if you would like me to come and speak about this topic, please contact me).

  • GrahamW
    Posted at 06:27h, 12 July Reply

    Great presentation, JA.  I was particularly intrigued that only one of the comments (I think) mentioned ‘teaching them to write academically’.  I’ve been struck lately by the poor written literacy skills of young people – even ones emerging FROM university, let alone those going up.  I’ve also noticed that there seem to be few students who are able to succinctly summarise even their own work.  So, at least, some exercises in literature review and summary might be helpful.  Just a thought.

    • Jo Alcock
      Posted at 11:07h, 12 July Reply

      Hi Graham, thanks for your comment. This seems to be a common complaint with students – it’s something we discussed after the presentation, particularly regarding traditional comprehension skills and the ability to summarise.

      Some things I have been involved in with first year undergraduate students included an activity where students read a journal article (we provided a list for them to choose from) and write a summary in their own words which they upload to their e-portfolio for the subject librarian to mark. We also had some groups doing an assessed annotated bibliography which introduced them to a huge number of valuable skills (finding relevant resources, locating them, reading and understanding them, summarising, and creating a Harvard reference).

  • ale
    Posted at 13:48h, 14 July Reply

    Hello Jo, thank you for this post! I’m Italian, I knew your blog thanks to the CPD23 programme. I’m studying information literacy and I found your presentation very interesting. Maybe I can write about that in my master thesis? Thank you, I’ll go on reading from you 🙂

    • Jo Alcock
      Posted at 16:22h, 15 July Reply

      Hi Alessandra, thanks very much for your comment – I’m glad you found the presentation interesting. Please do feel free to include it in your thesis, and let me know if there’s any further information you’d like or anything I might be able to help you with. Good luck!

  • Jenny Horler
    Posted at 12:39h, 18 July Reply

    I picked up your blog through 23 THings. I’m a school librarian in Bedfordshire and I recently did a presentation to the Teach Meet group of librarians in Cambridge on this topic. The Teach Meet was useful as I made contacts in Cambridgewho confirmed your views about what school librarians should be doing.
    I have become increasingly concerned that 6th formers were leaving school with no idea how to research and reference and I have tried to introduce some skills lesson here, as part of the 6th form induction and sessions with the Yr 13 Extended Project Qualification.  However it would help if 6th form teachers made use of the librarian to teach Information Literacy. In a perfect world it would be part of the curriculum.

    • Jo Alcock
      Posted at 15:56h, 18 July Reply

      Hi Jenny
      Thanks for your comment – I followed the Cambridge LibTeachMeet and was really pleased to see someone else presenting on this topic, so I’m glad you found your way here 🙂

      Getting these sort of skills embedded into the curriculum seems to be a big hurdle across all levels at the moment – hopefully as a profession we can highlight the need for this and get it embedded throughout education at schools, colleges, and universities. It’s a big challenge but I think it’s something we can do!

  • Caroline Ball
    Posted at 10:38h, 29 July Reply

    I found this really useful, thank you. We are currently in the process of setting up our first trial ‘progression day’ for our FE-to-HE progression students – so something like this is exactly what I needed to help get my thoughts in order!

    • Jo Alcock
      Posted at 16:38h, 29 July Reply

      Glad you found it useful Caroline – the ‘progression day’ sounds useful – is this to introduce them to what they can expect at HE level?

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