Sunday, October 15, 2017

Resurrecting ye olde library "treasure hunt" exercise to teach students the research skills employers demand

In this recent article published in the Law Library Journal, Clinical Professor Nancy Vettorello (Michigan) proposes resurrecting an updated version of the old "treasure hunt" library exercise that we all used in the old days as a way of addressing employers' concerns that kids today don't know jake about how to research effectively.  It's a good article that does a nice job explaining the "process" versus "bibliographic" debate concerning the most effective research instruction methodology (and if you don't know what I'm refer to, you need to school yourself, like, pronto by reading this article).  Below is the introduction to Professor Vettorello's article, called Resurrecting (and Modernizing) the Research Treasure Hunt, which you can find at 109 Law Libr. J. 205 (2017):

First-year associates will spend forty-five percent of their time on legal research; second- and third-year associates will spend thirty percent. And unfortunately, employers find their associates' research skills lacking. This is not a new complaint. Employers have been complaining for more than a hundred years that recent law graduates cannot research well.


None of this is lost on those who teach legal research, who have long debated the best way to do so. Techniques for teaching research have changed over time, and methods once thought appropriate were sometimes later disfavored. Changes were driven both by pedagogy and by the ever-changing interface of legal research.


This article explores the types of research skills employers see lacking today; traces the debate over teaching methodology for research instruction and reviews modern proposals; and suggests that those who teach legal research reconsider one of the methods that has been disfavored--the research treasure hunt. Incorporating the treasure hunt as a small part of the curriculum achieves several goals. It exposes students to a greater number of research resources, gives them more opportunity to research, allows students small victories, allows them to customize their experiences, and marries well with the skills and expectations of the millennial law student. It also reflects the type of quick-turnaround research projects that students are asked to do in their summer employment.


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