February 1, 2019

Lesson Plan Series, #2 – Art Historical Research Paper

Destroying Images Research Paper Prep Session

By Anna Boutin-Cooper

What is your name? Where are you in the field currently? What has been your teaching experience thus far?

I’m Anna (pronounced AH-na), and I’m currently the Research & Visual Arts Librarian at Franklin & Marshall College (F&M) in Lancaster, PA. My position is essentially a traditional liaison role, mainly focused on the arts, and I have the opportunity to perform many different tasks, including instruction, cataloging zines, and working with special and digital collections. I recently obtained my MLIS in 2016, and this is my first full-time permanent librarian position, so I’m still pretty new to the field. I have had a wide range of teaching experience in my past, including the usual library instruction as well as time spent as a substitute teacher in elementary, middle, and high schools and as a theatre camp instructor.

What is the name of the institution and the position that you were in when you wrote and gave this lesson plan?

The lesson plan I’m writing about today was one that I created in tandem with my colleague, Meghan, for a mid-level art history class focusing on instances of iconoclasm throughout history. The professor wanted us to help the students prepare for their final research paper, so we essentially divided the class time in half. The first half focused on developing keywords and starting their research, and the second on introducing students to Zotero. Thankfully, this particular professor appreciates both the value of library instruction in the classroom and respects our knowledge as librarians, so while we had basic requirements for the session from her, we were free to design the lesson independently.

What is the context of the lesson plan you wrote – who was the audience, what were your learning objectives, etc?

The audience for this particular class was all sophomore level students or above, and they were not all art history majors. Many were considering paper topics that benefitted from an interdisciplinary lens, so this was reflected in the resources we discussed and on the research guide for the course.

Our specific learning outcomes, detailed on the lesson plan, were:

  • By the end of the session, students will have developed a wide array of keywords to use in their research.
  • By the end of the session, students will have Zotero downloaded onto their personal laptops (an instructor requirement), and will be able to successfully add and organize items to their personal library, as well as generate a bibliography using the tool.
  • Students will also be able to determine appropriate starting points (i.e. databases, sources, etc) for their particular research topic.
Photograph by the author of a student’s response to the mind-mapping/keyword development exercise.

Were there any resources that you used in the creation of the lesson plan? What were they?

Though we were responsible for our own sections of the lesson plan, I was fortunate to have a great colleague to bounce ideas around with for the active learning components of the lesson. We did also plan this lesson with the library classroom space we have in mind – namely, its whiteboard-painted walls, which have proved vastly popular in our undergraduate liberal arts context.

How was the plan received? Would you make changes to future iterations?

This lesson was received well, from what I gathered through discussions with the students, the professor, and my colleague. I have found in my time at F&M that my lessons are more successful when they include discussions and active learning components, so I try to incorporate those whenever possible, and stay away from lecturing students. Though I’m always open to changes and iterating forward, for this particular lesson I would likely not drastically change anything, since it worked out well for the class needs.

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