Diving into the USER Method: (U)nderstand (Blog 7)

Instead of diving into the lesson planning and creating materials, the USER Method for library instruction planning developed by Char Booth asks us to start by stepping back and making sure we understand the context of our lesson.

By taking time to analyze the situation, we can better design a lesson or tool to meet the specific needs of our learners.

Good to Go: Identify the Problem and Analyze the Learner

I am most confident about my ability to identify the problem (USER 1a) and analyze the learners (USER 1b: Element 1). Most library instruction sessions start with a problem or a frame of some sort–a class assignment, a new technology, and observed problem. Sifting down to a core problem can take work, but feels natural to me. Likewise, I am more confident about analyzing the learners. Thinking about the students I’ll be teaching seems like a natural step to me. Booth’s questions and processes definitely help to clarify it though.

Still Struggling a Bit: Needs Assessment, Content Analysis

While I am comfortable identifying the instructional problem, I’m less comfortable with processes to identify problems on a larger scale. Perhaps it is because the needs assessment/user research strategies are more useful for people coordinating entire information literacy programs, but the various assessments seems far removed from planning a one-shot lesson. The list was also a bit overwhelming.

Content analysis was also a bit fuzzy for me. I understand the general concept, but it seems repetitive to broadly identify knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs) in this step only to repeat the process with more precision in the very next step.

Understanding by Design

I missed our discussion in class last week while I was at MLA, but after reading about the Understanding by Design (UbD) method, I think I might prefer it. While I was reading about UbD, everything we had read about and discussed so far started to click. Working through the UbD chart (I know, I know, we aren’t supposed to rely on that chart completely, but I’m new) felt much more natural when compared to the USER process. Maybe this will change as we move forward, but so far, my ideal method would be to start with some of the questions asked in the Understand section, and then dive right into UbD.

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2 thoughts on “Diving into the USER Method: (U)nderstand (Blog 7)

  1. I have pretty much the same comforts and discomforts with the Understand process as you do. We did talk in class last week about how the USER method may be a bit too rigorous to actually be useful every time you create a lesson plan. I agree that some of it is basically intuitive, but it’s nice to have it spelled out when you’ve never actually taught before just to back up these intuitions. I think once we get in the habit of making lesson plans we’ll be able to do this without filling in every box in Booth’s lengthy tables.

  2. I always get so weirded out when I go to your blog and there’s a video of, like, a snowboarder or someone dying their hair! Haha! I always think you’re trying to incorporate something artistic. #ads.

    I agree with you completely that UbD seems a lot more intuitive than USER!

    I do agree that analyzing the learners is a natural next step to identifying the problem, but I struggled and wrote about this week how impossible it seems to try and fit different learning styles into the one-stop session. Should you really take out valuable content to do the same thing over in different ways?

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