Posted in Teaching

Teaching Legal Research

Today was a first for me: my first time lecturing in a law school course!  For the first-year Legal Research & Writing course, the reference librarians each teach two guest lectures on legal research per semester.  I had my first today, on statutory research in Bloomberg Law, Lexis Advance, and Westlaw Next.  Certainly, I can admit to having been nervous, as I have never formally taught before; however, I prepared and practiced my lecture thoroughly, and by the end of the week was really only concerned about time.

As a whole, things actually went better than expected!  I didn’t have any time issues; I got to everything I wanted to cover; and students [seemed to] understand.  Teaching electronic research can be tricky, and in my experience students can get very frustrated trying to follow along – it’s easy to get lost.  Knowing this, in my lecture I paused frequently to make sure the students could see where I was and to give them time to catch up.  From what I can tell, this technique worked quite well; the professor I was working for, in particular, seemed pleased with my technique.

Another aspect of the lecture I will confess to having been nervous about was getting questions during and/or after the lecture.  To be sure, I invited the asking of questions, but I was worried they might throw me off, or even stump me!  As it turns out, I did get some good questions, and I feel I competently answered them as well.  Some were even great segues into the next topic in my lecture!  The students had a research assignment due today as well (statutory research with paper codes), and the instructor asked me to help field questions for it too – I had no idea what to expect, since I had not designed the assignment, but these too went quite well.  Students in both sections queried the usefulness of books in the age of electronic; both the professor and I had prompt, practical responses for that question.  My favorite was probably the question about whether there is greater eye strain when using print or electronic – I probably would have suggested consulting an optometrist; the professor suggested that no matter what type of resource you use, the legal profession lends itself to eye strain generally!  Good answer!

Suffice it to say that, with my second lecture coming up in two weeks, my nerves are significantly reduced!  Certainly, the same preparation technique will be utilized (starting Monday – I get a break this weekend!), but I think I will go into my next lecture more confidently, inside and out!