Tuesday August 1, 2017

Librarians Welcome New STEM Majors

By Joan Plungis and Meg Barkley

Workshop's hands-on journal activities give first-year STEM majors an introduction to the scholarly research cycle.

On a July 25 visit to Roesch Library, 52 incoming first-year students in the Minority STEM Summer Bridge Program got a crash course in the scientific publishing cycle.

Librarians Meg Barkley and Joan Plungis used an active learning exercise to help the students understand the process by which scientific research turns into the journal articles they are going to hear so much about once school starts.

The session — one of several summer programs for incoming first-year students — is part of the University Libraries’ strategic commitment to supporting scholarship throughout the research cycle. The Libraries have taken a leadership role in the Academic Senate’s plan for information literacy and work continuously with students and faculty to improve discovery and delivery of library resources.

In this case, the students’ task was to work in teams to figure out the order of the steps authors follow from research idea to publication, then illustrate the publishing cycle by positioning sticky notes with the steps on colorful posters. They also learned about peer review and its importance in their evaluation of articles for their own future research.

Another hands-on activity about scholarly journals ended up being the first time some of the students — all born in the digital age — had ever actually put their hands on a journal.

"I had never seen a print journal before," one student said after the teams examined a single article, a journal issue and a bound volume of the issues, then discussed the relationships between them. By visualizing these artifacts, they gained a better understanding of how to cite articles they discover online — not to mention how to find them in the stacks.

Other lasting impressions from their time at the library?

“Definitely the nun dolls,” another student said.

- Joan Plungis, research and instruction librarian and Meg Barkley, life & health sciences librarian. 

ABOUT THE MINORITY STEM SUMMER BRIDGE PROGRAM

Since 2007, the University of Dayton School of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences have held the weeklong Minority STEM Summer Bridge Program on campus to introduce incoming first-year students to the academic resources and services offered at UD, to help form a community of support and to facilitate success in the rigorous STEM disciplines, all with the goal of increasing diversity in engineering and scientific professions. Programs such as this one can bring about a stronger transition from high school to college; increase retention in STEM fields; improve the likelihood of graduation on schedule with a bachelor’s degree; and create a stronger sense of belonging at the University of Dayton. The Virginia W. Kettering Foundation, Messer Construction and Marathon Petroleum​ have helped underwrite the program​ over the years. The School of Engineering and the College of Arts & Sciences now support the program costs.

Photo credit: Julie Noeth, Walling Photography.

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