Teaching LIS Students to Teach

“Unconference” style session (all materials will be available online–I’ll post link when we get it)
by Melissa Wong, Mega Oakleaf, and Jim Elmborg

“To Textbook or Not, That is the Question: Selecting Course Materials”
Jim Elmborg

Elmborg hasn’t seen a textbook that is great for his course–likes flexibility of using articles and book chapters. Librarians need to be teachers. The topic of instruction is very large and hard to wrap one’s head around. Trying to establish a mindset, ways of thinking about self and what the library is: a literacy activity, learning organizations. All library users are learners. Need to think about where course fits in the curriculum. Tries to sequence an extended argument in his course. Need to think about learning as a contextual activity.

“They Told Me I Should Learn to Teach: Addressing Student Anxiety”
Melissa Wong

Looking at student anxiety around learning to teach. Students know they should take the course, but are anxious about it. Reasons: students don’t see themselves as teachers, afraid of being bad teachers, students afraid that they don’t have “teacher traits,” but the main idea is that they don’t identify with being a teacher. So, how do we help students see themselves as teachers? Develop a personal style of teaching? Have confidence in their own efficacy?

“I Don’t Know if They Got It: Teaching Assessment and Evaluation”
Megan Oakleaf

Using questions by Understanding by Design: what do you want students to learn? What does learning look like? What activities will show learning? (make the assessment as part of your teaching activities= merge teaching activities with assessment) Satisfaction does not equal learning. Other facts can impact satisfaction: instruction enthusiasm, student expectations, and tendency to over-report satisfaction. Look at reflective learning/teaching (ILIAC, EBLIP, etc.). Talk about tools for assessing learning: teaching strategies that engage students, rubrics, classroom assessment techniques, tests, and self-report. Talk about problem of product versus process assessment. Look at good artifacts of student learning assessment. Then look at assessing teaching (CAT, videotape, and peer feedback). Uses for assessment data: improve instruction, improve the assessment, and/or throw a party.

The lightening talks followed by group discussion. Looking at tensions between theory and practice in library school classes. Talking about how to operationalize everything that we are talking about–different in every context. Need to work to have relevance in each context. Internships for students in teaching are very important. Lots of different ways to inspire and teach instruction.

Information Literacy Research Papers at ALISE 2011

ALISE 2011 session of three juried papers on information literacy (IL). The session was titled, “Helping Students be Competitive,” but I didn’t find this to be the best title for the session. It’s a session about information literacy (and yes, being information literate makes one more competitive), so have information literacy in the title. Anyway, onward to the summary!

Evidence-Based Design of Information Literacy Instruction: Innovation in Pedagogy for the Library and for the MLIS
by Heidi Julien and Kathleen DeLong (University of Alberta)

This project looks at pedagogy in LIS education, which is influenced by many factors: ALA Committee on Accreditation, faculty experience, etc. Project wanted to develop empirical evidence for improving pedagogy. The project also looks at practice and instruction in University libraries which is influenced by similar factors: standards, experience, talking with colleagues, etc.

Study looks at experiences of undergraduates transition from high school to the post-secondary environment. Looking to improve design of IL pedagogy. Assesses skill development of selected secondary and post-secondary students, focusing on arts and social sciences students. Looking at the gap in the literature as research studies do not look at both secondary and post-secondary education together in IL research. Examines students’ experiences as they complete their last year of high school through the start of their undergraduate studies. The researchers are using the James Madison University’s “Information Literacy Test.” Recruitment of undergraduates for interviews proved difficult.

Findings and Implications: students recognized the importance of IL skills but were unaware of the resources available to support them. Librarian-taught courses are still rare. Students are not entering post-secondary education with well-developed IL skills.

Information Literacy and Its Discontents: Lessons from College Students with Below Proficient Skills
by Don Latham and Melissa Gross (Florida State University)

Talking about “Attaining Information Literacy Project” which is IMLS-funded project. Purpose: to identify students with below-proficient IL skills, gather data about their conceptions of and experiences with IL, and develop an IL intervention that will address their needs. Defining IL as: finding, evaluating, and using information.

Guiding principles: evidence-based approach (yay!), focus on issues of student perceptions, develop learner-centered instruction, and develop reality-based instruction. Used the Information Literacy Test from James Madison University. (Second yay! Latham and Gross used Bruce’s relational model of IL.)

Findings: students didn’t perceive IL as a discrete set of skills, below-proficient students in the study greatly over-estimated their performance on the IL test and described their IL skills as “good” or “above average.” Students wanted in-person instruction and interactive learning.

Conclusions: Used Bruce’s Informed Learning Approach (which emphasizes learner experiences and perceptions and the need for a personal relevance framework) to focus on self-generated rather than imposed information seeking, web searching rather than database searching and provide an incentive.

Goals of Instruction: change learners’ conception of skills required, change learners’ conception of their personal ability, and teach one skill that learners can readily use that will improve both self-generated and imposed information task outcomes.

Developed ASE (Analyse, Search, Evaluate) Model developed as an intervention and tested in an iterative process. Will deliver intervention in February and assess model.

Information Seeking Experiences of the Post-Secondary Distance/Online Student
by Nancy E. Black (University of British Columbia PhD candidate)

Questions: what does information seeking look like for the distance student? What are the lived experiences? What are the: barriers, strategies, themes and contexts?

Black used the theoretical frameworks of: hermeneutic phenomenology and communicative action. She used semi-structure interviews, verbal analysis protocol, and reflexive journals as her methodology.

Findings: majority thought of Google first for searching, not a surprising finding for Black (and not surprising for most), then used Wikipedia and Google Scholars, and interviewees also talked a lot about time (different conceptions of time and when searching ended) and motivation (different motivating factors and different degrees of motivation). Other patterns: appreciation of the option of distance learning, technological barriers to searching, and dislike of collaboration/group projects.

Final Thoughts
It was great to hear about evidence-based research on information literacy and researchers from North America using Bruce’s work and not exclusively relying on the ACRL definitions/standards of IL. It will be interesting to read more about the results of these multi-year projects when they are finished.

ALISE Keynote: LIS Education in the 21st Century

Big, Complex, Demanding, and Competitive: The Road to Library and Information Science Education in the 21st Century
by Jorge Reina Schement (Dean of School of Communication & Information at Rutgers University)

First, yay for getting the code for the conference wifi (makes blogging so much easier)! And double yay to seeing some other people on iPads, laptops, and notebooks at the conference! On to the actual keynote–allons-y!

Converging Trends
1. The historic public commitment to higher education is at risk.
The percent support of state support is decreasing in some states, but others are increasing (but not by a lot given the low support). Many states are “stepping away” from their support of public higher education. Our challenge is to create a business model that “positions ourselves successfully.” We aren’t prepared for the period that is coming. The demand for higher education is continuing to increase, unlike the level of state support.

Schement posits that the state support level will not return to previous levels in our lifetimes.

2. Household income lags farther behind the growing cost of a university education.
Tuition continues to increase, but household income is not increasing. Undergraduates are engaging higher education as a “pay-as-you-go” proposition because of the realities of the economy. Also, we need to change how we “do business” at the university because of the increasing diversity of our country and our undergraduates.

LIS Education and Profession
Obviously, the above trends will affect LIS programs and the profession. We will have issues with attracting students if tuition continues to increase while the job market (and salaries) stagnate. Also, our faculties are not changing as rapidly as our student bodies to reflect the diversity of the students.

“Librarianship is an aging, largely white, profession that must plan for its future. Without aggressive recruitment among diverse student populations by librarians & library program faculty, the profession will incur the consequences of cultural isolation.” We need to figure out a way to get a more diverse profession to reflect the communities we serve. Schement suggests that, “LIS faculty should consider a joint campaign to recruit younger students to the profession” (and also to recruit minority students). (However, there is already a trend of younger students at LIS schools–at least at San Jose and Simmons.)

Four Modest Proposals for LIS Education

  1. In the midst of an economic transformation, we must recognize ourselves as an enterprise and minimize our dependence on subsidies from the university and the state.
  2. We must ride the demographic wave sweeping America and attract and recruit a diverse profile of students and faculty.
  3. To succeed nationally, we must succeed within our own institutions by showing our centrality to the mission of the university.
  4. Just as Americans are developing a national narrative to explain economic hardships and demographic change, we too must craft a national narrative of value, service, and leadership.

What about distance education?
Distance education is clearly something we have to do. We might think about offering distance education programs collaboratively with other programs. “Distance education is thinking outside the box.”

How do we succeed when there are no jobs for our students?
There are tension between profession and function of librarianship. (I don’t think that this question was answered well because we can’t deny that this is a tough economy for finding work, no matter what you call the degree or job. If organizations aren’t hiring, there isn’t much one can do.)

How do you change the face of LIS faculty when people want to hire people who “look like us”?
“Give people the benefit of the doubt.” People just need to find the most qualified person for the position, regardless of ethnicity, sexuality, gender, etc. We also need to cultivate people for these positions.

Interesting review of changing demographics of the United States and how LIS schools need to change to reflect the diversity. I agreed with much of the talk, but I’m not sure how I feel about even more aggressive recruitment of students to LIS programs. I am in favor with increasing diversity in both the LIS faculty and student bodies, but not by promising that there will be employment after graduation for our students. I did completely agree with the need to be aggressive about showing and telling the value of librarianship to the public in order to create a narrative of value for the library that reflects the needs of society. Nice start to the conference.