On Friday the new class of doctoral nursing students came to the library for an instruction session. I had 90 minutes to tell them about the resources essential to their pursuit of a Ph.D. and to instruct them in how to use the software wonder known as EndNote.
As usual, I planned a well organized, interactive session and, as often happens, I lost control of the session after the first half hour. Many of the students began searching their individual topics in the online resources, tuning me out until they hit a snag, at which point they'd look up, notice my presence and ask me a question.
As usual, I immediately began beating myself up after the session for not directing it more effectively. I thought of the items left unclear or not covered at all.
Then I realized that what happened is exactly what should have happened. These were mature, enthusiastic adult learners. Of course they were going to dive right into those new resources! They were thrilled with the information that was available to them and asked lots of questions. The session would not have been more effective had I forced them to stick to my arbitrary structure. Either way, the students will be back in touch with many more questions over the course of their doctoral program.
Sometimes you just have to let the learning happen. I think that's what student-centered teaching is all about.
Image from Soo-Hyoung's Library Clipart