Frames & Expectations
We do a lot of teaching work to frame (and re-frame) the research experience, trying to model it as an iterative, exploratory process that takes time and requires reflection.
This is often in opposition to a “quick answers” expectation, with a context where “efficiency” is key (if you spend a lot of time, you’re becoming inefficient. Being inefficient = death).
Student responses from a couple of contexts have provided me with more evidence for the importance of this framing work.
Talking with students about their experience with challenging research projects, they’ve been frustrated, but also mentioned a limit to their frustration, because they were taught that, “these setbacks are normal in research.”
It’s not just me — I’m not doing it wrong.
Working with students recalling their first-year struggles to find books on the shelves, they reflected that it wasn’t just the difficulty of the process (“it definitely got easier”) but also the surprise that this was something that wasn’t intuitive, that they would have to learn.
Do I fit in? Am I the only one who doesn’t know this?
Asking a student to look up a call number for a Reserve book may prompt an eye roll, or an exasperated question, “Can’t you just do it for me?”
But what if we talked about the transferable value of being able to quickly use the catalog? Of not wasting time coming to the desk if it’s already checked out? Or the simple benefit of just looking these up once and having them written down for easy future borrowing (so you don’t have to wait for the student worker to do it)?
Or do we need to change our process?
Why is this taking so long????
Time is not only precious, it is threatened.
Students feel it on all sides, and they are constantly managing, shifting, and re-shifting their priorities in response.
How do we create (mental, emotional) space, or help them allow time for the important work that we value in research?
How can we cut out inefficiencies in our own processes that don’t serve any real goal, that are only perceived as barriers?
How do we help craft an educational experience through their contact with the library to help them progressively develop the critical thinking, evaluation, and reflection skills that will serve them later in life? (Not to mention persistence).
These are some of the questions that guide my work.