Learning Outcome Profile: Scholarly Conversation

Here’s another learning outcome profile for the Scholarship as a Conversation frame, and I think it’s the only one I’ve successfully tried in the classroom. This one is very challenging to address with first year students.

Frame: Scholarship as a Conversation

Outcome: Students will be able to recognize that they are often entering into the midst of a scholarly conversation that is ongoing.

Base Time: 30-50 min.

Primary Strategy: The librarian asks students to trace an article’s citations backwards (by determining what sources it cites) and forwards (by determining what other sources cite this one). This can be done using the references list and a tool like Web of Science or Google Scholar. Then students are asked to reflect on how the central argument of the original article fits into a larger conversation of arguments about this topic.

Additional Strategies:

  • Revisit a current scholarly debate at various times throughout the semester. Bring in contemporary news articles or even new academic articles found using Google Scholar alerts to illustrate the change in the conversation. Or, ask the students to find articles and bring them in.
  • Provide examples of how previously contentious scholarly conversations underwent change over time. This can be done using narrative (see my post about storytelling in instruction).
  • Use a “scholarly tree” to illustrate the influences past ideas have had on an article and its influence on later articles. This can be done using a concept mapping tool..

Why this learning outcome is important:

Students may understand the credibility of authorities/experts, but it’s important that they understand the larger context in which these experts speak and that not all experts agree.

Key Points

  • Accounts from individual authorities give us an incomplete view of the entire, complex scholarly conversation.
  • Experts may be authoritative, but they don’t always agree with one another.
  • As students and scholars, students can contribute their own voices to the conversation.

Subject-Specific Tailoring

  • A session tailored to this learning outcome could be a good opportunity to explore key conversations and scholars in a discipline or disciplinary niche.
  • This could be an opportunity to discuss common “places” or platforms where experts in a particular field converse (i.e. particular journals).

Real-World Application

Students will encounter the testimony of single experts often, and they need the tools and skills to explore the scholarly context of that testimony.

Potential Assessments

  • “Scholarly tree” or “tracing an article” handout or concept map
  • Scoop.It page
  • Formative assessment

Use of Technology

  • Concept mapping software to make a “scholarly tree” like MindMup, Mindomo, or bubbl.us
  • Add “conversation bubbles” to a virtual collage like Scoop.It, Photovisi, Mural.ly, or Popplet

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