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CDNLAO Newsletter

No. 88, April 2017


"Research Begins with Curiosity:" National Central Library's Young Scholars' Cultivation Workshop

By National Central Library, Taiwan

1. Objectives

With its abundant collections of contemporary books, journals, electronic databases, as well as ancient rare materials, the National Central Library (NCL) has long served the research needs of scholars in Taiwan and aboard. To inspire young adults' interests in academic research, the NCL initiated the Young Scholars' Cultivation Workshop for high school students nationwide. The first workshop took place in summer 2015 and received very positive feedback from 90 participants. In 2016, the NCL launched the second workshop with the expectation to make the event a permanent summer activity.

2. Workshop

2-1. Overlook

From July 18th to August 5th, 2016, 105 students in three batches participated in the five-day workshop. The workshop was designed to encourage students to discover questions and to transform their curiosity to concrete research skills. NCL's experienced librarians gave lectures on various topics related to research methodology, including finding topics, locating materials, using online resources, analyzing data, and writing a research paper. Two university professors from different research fields were also invited to share their own research experiences with students.

Students were also required to put what they learned in classes into concrete practices in carefully designed activity sessions. During these sessions, they were divided into small groups and engaged in team works. Each team was required to design an online questionnaire and analyze the results by using Google Docs. On the last day, students worked together to present their research findings. Best presentations were awarded. Each participant received a certificate by the end of the workshop. A special Facebook page was created for the workshop and all the participants, as well as the instructors, were encouraged to post and share their ideas and comments. As many students, coming from all over Taiwan, developed friendship with fellow participants during the workshop, the Facebook page continues to serve as a platform for communication and exchange of their progress.

2-2. Agenda

2016 Workshop Agenda
Day 1 08:50 12:00 Orientation
Lecture: Research Experience (guest speakers: Professor Kao Yeong-chuan, Professor Hsu Kuo-neng)
13:30 17:30 Introduction to Different Types of Libraries; NCL Tour
Group discussion
Day 2 08:50 12:00 Special Topic: Research Methods
13:30 17:30 Special Topic: Introduction of Resources and Searching Techniques
Activity 1: Finding A Research Topic and Locating Materials
Day 3 08:50 12:00 Special Topics: Guidelines for Writing A Research Paper
13:30 17:30 Activity 2: Analyzing Historical Resources
Activity 3: Designing an Online Questionnaire
Day 4 08:50 12:00 Activity 4: Analyzing the Results of the Questionnaire
Activity 5: Writing the Paper Outline and Abstract
Activity 6: Making PPT and Practicing Oral Presentation
13:30 17:30
Day 5 08:50 12:00 Final Group Presentations and Commentaries
13:30 17:30 Workshop Wrap Up
Interactions between Instructors and students

2-3. Highlights

2-3-1. Sharing Research Experience

< Prof. Kao Yeong-chuan talks about his own experience >

Learning from others' experiences can always be rewarding. The NCL invited two guest speakers with different backgrounds to share their experiences in the Research Experience session. Professor Kao Yeong-chuan from National Taiwan University is a physicist specializing in quantum field theory. In his talk, he not only introduced basic theories of physics through simple examples to encourage the students to explore science in daily life, but also shared with the students his own inspirations from Albert Einstein and Zhuangzi (an ancient Chinese philosopher). The other guest speaker, Professor Hsu Kuo-neng from Taiwan Normal University, is a famous writer and poet. He used both Harry Potter series and the Tang poetry to demonstrate the importance of applying scientific and systematic methods in finding research answers. The cheerful and inspiring talks stimulated the participating students and warmed up the first day of the workshop.

2-3-2. Analyzing Historical Resources (Day 3)

< Students visit the Rare Books Room >

During the tour of the NCL on the first day, the students visited the Rare Books and Special Collections and were amazed by the copious collection of valuable ancient Chinese prints and manuscripts. Thus, in one of the special topic sessions, they had a chance to learn how to use these historical materials to conduct research. The instructor, Huang Wen-de, is the editor from the Special Collections Division who holds a doctoral degree in history. He showed the students the format and structure of academic writing in the fields of humanities. He used history writing as an example and provided the students a step-by-step instruction from finding the research questions, locating historical or archival materials, analyzing the texts, to writing a final paper.

2-3-3. Presentations (Day 5)

After getting to know some of the research methods, the students were required to design their own questionnaires for their chosen topics on the third day of the workshop. Among the themes explored were "On General Reading Habits of High School Students in Taipei," "The Impact of Reading Habits on School Performance," "What Novels Do High School Students Read and Why Do They Read Them," to mention just a few. The students then learned to use Google Docs to post their questionnaires online. On the fourth day, they collected and analyzed the data. They also learned how to make PPT and how to deliver oral presentations.

< Students make online questionnaires >

On the last day of the workshop, all students participated in the final presentations as a way to summarize what they have learned over the five-day program. Every presentation had to cover the following aspects of their research: the research objectives, the literature review, the research findings, and the conclusion. During the presentation, every team member took a part and had a chance to show his or her effort. The NCL committee, formed by three experienced research librarians, evaluated the presentations for their choice of topic, depth of analysis, structural flow and overall clarity. The winners were awarded in the closing ceremony hosted by NCL's Director-General Tseng Shu-hsien.

< During the presentation >

3. Learning Outcomes

3-1. Learning Outcomes Questionnaire

In the beginning and the end of the workshop, a questionnaire, designed by the NCL team, was given to all the students to fill out. These questions helped the team to understand the learning outcomes of the workshop.

Learning Outcomes Questionnaire
  Question Pre-Workshop
AVG. (A)*
AVG. (B)
Performance Change (C)
Q1 I can tell the differences between the NCL and other libraries 3.52 4.41 0.89
Q2 I know that there are reference books and electronic resources available in the libraries to help me with my research and study. 4.17 4.38 0.21
Q3 I am familiar with electronic databases in finding information and archival materials. 3.33 4.02 0.69
Q4 I know many or all the research methods. 3.17 4.1 0.93
Q5 I know that questionnaire survey is a method to collect research data. 4.47 4.47 0
Q6 I know how to use Google Docs for online questionnaire survey. 2.94 4.37 1.44
Q7 I am familiar with the format of academic writing. 2.78 3.85 1.07
Q8 I know how to write a research proposal. 2.60 3.9 1.31

* 5 points total for each question.

Learning Outcomes Scattered Diagram

3-2. Analysis of the Learning Outcomes Questionnaire

  • -The students generally felt that they learned much about research methods and writing techniques after the workshop.
  • -The students knew better about library resources after the workshop.
  • -Many students learned to use Google Docs for online questionnaire survey for the first time in the workshop and considered it a useful research tool.
  • -After the workshop, the students were mostly confident about the format of academic writing and knew how to write a preliminary research proposal.

4. Conclusion

After holding the Young Scholars' Cultivation Workshop for two consecutive summers, the NCL team was satisfied with the results and the performance of all participating students. Through professional librarians' introduction and guidance, these high school students learned how to utilize available library resources, including digital databases and historical materials from the special collections. They also learned to develop preliminary skills required to conduct independent research, such as forming questions, collecting data, analyzing materials, writing academic papers, and presenting the findings.

The NCL believes that libraries should play an active role in pushing for social changes. Planting seeds and cultivate them at the high school level to stimulate interests in learning, research and exploring different possibilities is one of the missions that the NCL strives to achieve. The flowers of the Young Scholars' Cultivation Workshop are expected to bloom in the near future.

< Students happily receive a certificate for completing the workshop >

Copyright (C) 2017 National Central Library, Taiwan