Spencer writes in the library, part 23: The holiday edition!

Written by: Spencer Greenhalgh

Primary Source: Spencer Greenhalgh

2014-12-18 17.25.01

“Of all the wonderful buildings that we have on this campus, none, I believe, is as important as the library. A library is the very heart and substance of a university. Without access of vast quantities of information, neither faculty nor student can do an accurate job. It is the foundation of research. It is the source of information, both old and new. It is a place for the ever-present challenge to dig for knowledge beyond that which is given in the classroom.”
Gordon B. Hinckley (source)

This episode of Spencer Writes in the Library took place Thursday, December 18th around 5:00pm.

The Spot

Where am I working today?

Well, the bad news is that grad school rarely stops for the holidays. The good news, though, is that sneaking away to do research while I’m on vacation gives me the chance to work at some exciting new libraries! Today’s library spot is in Provo, Utah, on the bottom floor of the atrium of BYU’s Harold B. Lee Library. This is kind of fun, since you can give the HBLL (and its clever videos) partial credit for starting this project in the first place. I didn’t spend a lot of time here as an undergrad, and I’m glad I could come back to try it out as a grad student.

What’s a perk of this spot?

Comfy chairs and a great view! From the bottom floor of the atrium, you can see all the way up to the top, and the stairs and the glass above you make a great view. I wish I had taken a picture of that, but I’ve repeatedly demonstrated with this series that I’m not a great photographer, so I probably wouldn’t have done it justice. Plus, there’s quick access to several of the collections that are found down here on the bottom level.

What’s a problem with this spot?

I was only here for a short time, otherwise I really would have missed having a plug to keep my computer charged. We’re also lucky that we were here at the end of finals week, when students had already started leaving–I know from experience that this part of the library can quickly get crowded.

What have I learned in this spot?

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One of the collections down here is the Special Collections Library, and they usually have a small exhibit right in their lobby before you enter the Special Collections proper. Currently, the collection is on World War I, since the world is now observing the 100th anniversary of its outbreak. We popped in here briefly before leaving the library so that I could learn something at this spot and report it to you. To be frank, sometimes the decision is as intentional as that: I need to “learn” something quick before I leave the library so that I can blog about it later. However, I often end up genuinely learning something important, and this was one of those cases.

Not only was there a lot to learn about the Great War from a general perspective (for example, the way that relationships between enemy pilots deteriorated from waving at each other to outright trying to kill each other during the war), but since BYU is a Mormon university, there was a lot about the connections between World War I and the world of Mormonism. Sometimes these connections were slightly uncomfortable–for example, I learned that Gavrilo Princip used a gun manufactured by a Mormon-owned arms company to assassinate Archduke Ferdinand–but there were also inspirational stories about Mormon chaplains and other individuals who tried to bring some good into what was such a terrible conflict.

I honestly wished I had taken the time to stay longer. It was a tiny, tiny exhibit, but packed full with valuable information.

How would I rate this spot?

8 out of 5 dentists. (Why dentists?)

The Work

What am I working on today?

It’s almost SITE season! The MSU EPET program usually sends a large contingent to the annual conference of the Society of Information Technology and Teacher Education, and I’m involved with several presentations this year. One presentation, which just got accepted, is focused on researching what elements of video games players take into account when giving it high or low ratings (e.g., saying that they liked it a lot or not very much). The idea is that by understanding which elements contribute most to players’ enjoyment of games, designers and evaluators of educational games might have a better idea of what to focus on when making sure their games are enjoyable.

What’s the highlight from today’s work?

We’re actually nearly finished with data analysis, which is exciting! We’ve retrieved a number of reviews from a website on video games and have been coding them to notice which game elements are appearing the most often. As we finish the coding process, we’re looking over each other’s work to ensure that we’re all on the same page, and that’s what I spent some time doing today. I’ve really grown to appreciate the process of coding qualitative data–it’s taught me a lot about just how much work goes into research to make sure that what’s being reported can be justified.

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Hi there! My name is Spencer Greenhalgh, and I am a student in the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology doctoral program at Michigan State University. I came to Michigan State University with a strong belief in the importance of an education grounded in the humanities. As an undergraduate, I studied French and political science and worked as a teaching assistant in both fields. After graduation, I taught French, debate, and keyboarding in a Utah private school before coming to MSU, where I plan to study how technology can be used to help students connect the humanities with their lives. I have a particular interest in the use of games and simulations to promote ethical reasoning and explore moral dilemmas, but am eager to study any technology that can help students see the relevance of studying language, culture, history, and government.