Scholar Biography: Anne McGrail
I was fortunate to get to interview Anne McGrail, Coordinator of Lane’s Learning Communities.
How did you get where you are?
Anne has been in this position since 2004. She accepted the recommendation from the departing coordinator to take the role. Previously she worked as a literature instructor and experienced teaching in a learning community.
What are you doing currently in your field?
Her work consists primarily of scheduling and researching how students learn. She also works on faculty training and development concerning learning communities. Discovering and deciphering new information is Anne’s favorite part of the research process. In the beginning of her career, she was checking the National Research Council for book references. Information about learning communities is growing at a faster rate than any one person can keep up on within books. To stay informed and search through the data, she utilizes online tools, such a Twitter and blogs, to discover and follow credible sources that advertise “gold standard” scholarly publications. Instead of printing everything she wants to keep record of, she has uses a software program called Zotero, which enables her to create a virtual database. It doubles as a form of social media, allowing her to mark saved documents for private or shared use. She enjoys checking other expert’s findings. One of her favorite scholarly blogs is called The Digital Humanities Daily.
Detours, reflections, learning from your experiences:
Anne’s recommendation for students interested in the field of study of how students learn is to stay curious. This is a field of research for those who don’t enjoy getting too complacent. Be open to new ideas, criticism, and willing to pursue research again and again. She shared about her first memory of presenting research. In her college senior year, she presented her honors research. Although she was prepared from months of preparation, it was still terrifying this first time of presenting her research publicly. Her advice is if the content of your research is truly in order, then focus on your public speaking skills. Accept that criticism is part of the research process. But it’d also help to have those who defend your research in the audience!
What I learned about research by doing this biography:
My experience with research had been searching for it with databases and learning to do citations. Given that I am pursuing majoring in social media, I was ecstatic to see the ways in which Anne uses social media for research. I am been actively searching for and subscribing to scholar’s twitter accounts and blogs. This brings scholarly research into my daily internet use, enabling it to meet me where I’m typically at online. Anne also clarified a Lane slogan I didn’t fully understand: “Learn,-unlearn-relearn.” She connected this to the research process, explaining that what you may learn to be true may become invalid by later research. Thus, you must unlearn your old understanding to then relearn the new accepted truth.
McGrail, Anne. “Scholar biography.” Personal interview. 13 Mar. 2013.