Last spring, I took part in a faculty collaborative group devoted to information literacy. With the support of two intelligent librarians, Vang Vang and Monica Fusich, I adapted an assignment developed by Joanna Burkhardt and Mary MacDonald. They called it the Paper Trails project, a name I really liked so I used it, as well, making it into a wiki assignment. Rather than having students write a research-based essay, I required them to be reflective about the process of research. Each project had a number of sections: the home page, individual mind maps about their topic, a research outline, an annotated bibliography of useful sources (and another of sources they decided weren’t relevant to their topic), a research journal in the form of a spreadsheet which I’ll explain below), and a research summary. The research journal was in the form of a table with columns devoted to planning, search, discovery, and evaluation of sources. Each group member entered in their thoughts in a row–and then the group summarized each column, looking for patterns or similarities. (This was an activity I saw Kristie Leyba do last summer and I’ve been itching to try it).
Overall, I really liked how this assignment worked. We’ve worked all semester to develop good collaborative skills–and although one student dropped out of class entirely leaving her group in a difficult place, the rest of the groups worked really well together. I can see many ways I need to finetune the assignment for next semester’s class, but here are links to the group projects:
On the last day of class, students presented their wikis to the class. I am so proud of their work: the ownership they took regarding their topic, the ways that they worked together, and the thoughtfulness with which they approached the assignment. Yet again, I’m reminded of how these wonderful undergraduate students are the future of our profession–and I feel so hopeful as a result!