How Do You Learn to Learn (Again)?

By Timothy Kim, Undergraduate Library Fellow (2022-23)

As a first time Undergraduate Library Fellow, I struggled to approach this question. Having gradually learned how to conduct research over the course of my academic career, I never really questioned the problem solving method I learned years ago. I simply did, and as long as the work I submitted was good enough, I was happy repeating the same process, class after class, topic after topic and using the same old routine. After all, what would be the point of learning something you already know?

But with this complacency I forgot what it meant to employ the tools available to conduct true research. The first time I conducted learning exercises with my mentors and peer research team I felt unprepared. As a peer research fellow, my colleague, Lily, and I were to conduct research consultations where we would help other students who were stuck in the research process, but to me, the library felt as complex and monolithic as it would to any other student. 

Fortunately, we had the opportunity to shadow our skilled librarians in Research 101 Workshops offered by the library to practice our academic literacy. The other research fellows and I practiced learning journey activities, emphasizing different students’ perspectives and how the learning process tied into how research was conducted. Over the course of the semester I became familiarized with how the library worked and the services they offered.

The first time we conducted our research consultations I realized we had everything we needed to help our fellow students with the issues they had with their assignments. In understanding learning outcomes and accumulating learning skills through empathy maps and information literacy frameworks, our team was able to foster a positive learning environment and help direct students to fully take advantage of the resources the library offered. Lily and I, in cooperation with the other research fellow team consisting of Sofia and Avery, had created a flexible script that approached research in a way that could adapt to the student’s individual needs. This component of creativity helped me come up with solutions to problems Lily or I might have never encountered. 

Through this experience, though, I’ve realized how versatile research can be and how this translates to how people with different academic backgrounds learn. Education requires patience and empathy to be able to interact with different ideas. I’m very grateful for the experience I’ve had working with other students as it’s made me a better student and peer fellow. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience and skills I’ve gained and now realize how research isn’t a singular process to be used class after class, assignment after assignment in the way I had originally thought.