Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Librarian as Research Supervisor: On the Personal Project

At the start of the school year in August, I took on the challenging task of a research supervisor.

I coordinate the writing of the Extended Essay of our grade 12s and supervise a grade 10 student on his Personal Project.

My supervisee showing his ebook to a guest at the WIP fair.
Yesterday, my grade 10 supervisee participated in the Work In Progress (WIP) Fair of the Personal Project. Like his batch mates, he was well prepared for it. He had his booth set-up a few days before the fair. His posters and iPad were ready. I watched and listened to him speak to guests and school mates as he explained the goals of his project, the status of his project, the difficulties he experienced and how he was able to overcome them. He looked happy, proud and fulfilled. I expect to see him next week, after the Papal Visit, for a conversation on his experience at the fair.

This is what I enjoy doing the most with my supervisee. The conversations. Listening to him allows me to understand what his thought process is, how he works his way through the research process and how he discovers new insights. I am lucky to have a conscientious supervisee. He adheres to the schedule and diligently works on task assigned to him on a regular basis. My role has really been a guide and cheer leader for him as he journey on the path of the Personal Project.

I think what helped him accomplish a good presentation at the fair, apart from his diligence and discipline, are the following:

a. He picked a topic and project he is genuinely interested in.
b. He has developed a certain level of skill in crafting questions.
c. He listens.
d. He follows through.
e. He reads.

I check his online journal once a month and I am amazed at how honest his insights and reflections are. He still needs to work on his information literacy skills as well as his thinking skills (reasoning, logic, supporting a claim). This is the point of the whole exercise. This is the reason why, high school students need a research supervisor.

And yet, this experience with my grade 10 student has allowed me to grow and learn too. For one, I am taking a great interest on the iBook authoring app. Being a research supervisor makes me revisit old and new ways of servicing young people in the context of library and information science. I am also compelled to write more. This April, I will present a paper in another international conference. Reading and writing skills need to be modeled. If I want my students to respect me as a research supervisor and EE Coordinator, they must see me "walk my talk" I sit back and further reflect on the these things. Yes, competence and cognition are essential to complete a research paper or project. But there is a lot of character building going on in the process.

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