Turning educational standards/recommendations into information

Turning Educational
Standards/Recommendations into
Information Fluency Courses
A case study.
A. Ben Wagner, Univ. at
Buffalo – SLA Baltimore
A Gift from the gods
October 2005 - American Physical Society
& Assoc. of Amer. Physics Teachers
Report of the Joint APS-AAPT Task Force
on Graduate Education in Physics
Executive Summary Recommendation
“…that [physics] departments require
communication training and
information literacy/fluency in their
graduate programs.”
Getting the Ball Rolling
Dec. 2005 - Contacted department chair who
was not aware of the report.
Lesson 1: Don’t assume faculty have time to track
all the developments in educational standards.
Spring 2006 - Agreed to test concept with a
series of 4 workshops for physics grad
Spring 2007 – Develop a 1-credit course
under auspices of the physics department.
Spring 2006 Workshops
Heavily promoted to faculty & grad students
Taught 2 sections to maximize attendance
(5:10-6 pm Tue. & 2-3 pm Wed./ 4 weeks)
Pizza party promised if they came to all 4.
Emailed reminders nearly every week
Spring 2006 Syllabus
Information Cosmology: Navigating the
universe beyond Google (Inspec vs.
Google, basics of searching)
 In top 5 Google results for ‘quantum wells’:
Britney's Guide to Semiconductor Physics
Figure 1. Graphical solution for finite barrier
quantum well & energy levels
Note: This illustration from “Britney’s” web site was used as a negative
role model, showing the effectiveness of taking the students directly
from a site with stupid stuff like this to a quick, precise index term
search of INSPEC. The students actually got excited about the power
of controlled vocabulary searching. - ABW
Spring 2006 Syllabus
2. Enrich your studies & teaching: Knowing where to
begin (AccessScience, Knovel, review articles,
Bison Catalog)
--Choose their own topic to use for rest of the course.
3. Diving in deep: Researching projects & theses
(Inspec, SciFinder, arXiv, Web of Science)
4. Finding Data & other hard-to-detect species
(properties, dissertations, govt reports, etc.)
“I learned much more than I thought I would.”
Wanted to be more “efficient” in finding info.
Wanted to do “searches other than Google”
Enthusiastic about 1-credit course – could
take more time to learn and do own
Be pro-active and think marketing.
Track activities of major societies (esp.
teachers of…) educational
If there are no info fluency recommendations
in place, point out what other disciplines
have recommended (keeping up with the