IIG Spring Workshop 2017

ALAO IIG Spring Workshop Banner

Registration is now open for the Academic Library Association of Ohio’s Instruction Group Spring Workshop, “Learning from Experience: Sharing Applied Threshold Concept Methods in Instruction.”

Date: Thursday, April 20

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Registration begins at 9:00 a.m.)

Location: State Library of Ohio

Cost: $35 (ALAO members), $45 (ALAO non-members), $25 (student members)

Registration Link: https://www.alaoweb.org/event-2484443

IIG’s Spring Workshop offers a variety of different sessions on ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. Come with your questions about the new Framework and leave with great ideas and tips.


In “Bring in the New by Tweaking the Old!” Information Literacy Coordinator Rares Piloiu (Otterbein University) will introduce librarians to instructional methods and strategies to help them incorporate the Framework into their teaching.

Sherri Saines, Subject Librarian for the Social Sciences at Ohio University, will discuss how she rewrote the ACRL Framework in “lay language,” useful for faculty workshops and collaboration, in her presentation “’How Information Works’: Translating the Frames for a Wider Audience.”

Starting the afternoon session, Social Media Coordinator and Subject Librarian for Ohio University’s Scripps College Jessica Hagman and Rebekah Perkins Crawford, Doctoral Candidate and Associate Basic Course Director for Scripps School of Communication, will share their collaborative work on creating assignments that integrate the new Framework in “Building an Information Literacy Structure in the Public Speaking Course.”

In “Integrating College Learning Goals and the ACRL Framework into Information Literacy,” Special Initiatives Librarian Rosalinda H. Linares (Oberlin Colleage) and Visiting Asst. Professor Kathryn Miller (Oberlin College) will discuss a librarian-faculty collaboration to map college learning goals and the ACRL Framework to essential, discipline-specific threshold concepts in two introductory course.

The day will also include round table discussions about the ins and outs of the ACRL Framework to provide participants the opportunity to share their own ideas and experiences.

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Library Instruction Nirvana vs. Library Instruction Reality: Balancing & Prioritizing Instruction Strategies, Reflections by a New Librarian–Hanna Schmillen

“I just realized this week that I cannot do it all, so I will do what I can fabulously.”

– Clinton Kelly, 2013

Yes, I just quoted a fashion expert and media personality, but it’s insanely relatable. As a fairly new professional (not quite two years in) who consistently fills her plate too full, likes to experiment, and has high expectations, I have to remind myself that doing it all does not imply that I am doing it all well. Sometimes…let’s be realistic, most of the time we have to choose and prioritize our ‘To Do’ lists and balance our capabilities. And our ‘To Do’ lists continue to grow.

This same principle carries over into instruction methodology. Most of us have one-shot sessions in order to teach our students how to be information literate and effective searchers. Not only that, but we are trying to balance the expectations of the course instructors, the students, our library, and ourselves. Oh, and don’t forget about the ACRL Frameworks, active learning strategies, and session assessment. Again, our lists continue to grow. So how do we prioritize? How can we ensure that our sessions are active, and relevant, and meet not only our expectations, the expectations of others while addressing our elusive Frameworks? I don’t have the answer, so don’t get too excited, but I would like to share what I have learned so far that is bringing me one step closer to that answer (Library Instruction Nirvana?)

A wise, seasoned colleague of mine, Sherri Saines, once shared her golden rule of instruction when it comes to selecting her session content: one learning outcome/concept per 15 minutes of your session. What this means is that within an average, 50-minute session, you may teach three concepts. (Perhaps three Frameworks.) Three. Why? It’s estimated that the average student can focus and absorb a new concept for about 15 minutes at a time. In theory, if you spend less time, they may not understand or remember what you taught them. However, if you trail on forever, you could lose their interest. So 15 minutes is a guideline for time spent per concept, but assuming this guideline applies to everyone and every concept may not be accurate.

I myself tend to think of ‘concept’ more as a theme. For example, I should not teach search strategy without ensuring the students know where to access the library databases. Or I cannot discuss searching for a specific level of evidence in healthcare and medicine if the students are unfamiliar with the different levels of evidence. So depending on the experience of the students, I may make the assumption that reminding them where to click on the library’s website will not take a huge amount of brainwork. So I might wrap these together as one theme and not two individual concepts that will independently take 15 minutes to make concrete.

Including active-learning strategies and engaging activities is very important to my instruction methodology. There are two reasons for this: the first is I really enjoy interacting with the students and experiencing their engagement with me, the content, and each other. The second, and more important, is that active-learning strategies have proven to be the most effective method when working with diverse learners. For example, lecture is more ideal for those learners who prefer to listen and absorb. I tend to include PowerPoints, reflection time, and self-paced activities for those self-learners. And for those learners who need an example or need to activity try something, I plan an activity where they perform a task or discuss with their peers.

My goal is to create a learning space that is flexible and adaptable to different kinds of learners. Balance, variety, and natural flow are important to me when I build lesson plans. I begin by dividing my more traditional lecture content into smaller tidbits, or themes. Then add an appropriate active-learning strategy per theme. While doing so, I remind myself that the active-learning strategy, if done well, should lean more towards replacing my lecture or demo time; not simply reiterating my concept.

Side note: you can integrate a simple assessment into an active-learning activity, so two birds, one stone. That being said, you can’t do every, creative active-learning strategy invented in one session, and you shouldn’t try. I mean, technically this is possible, but I do not see how successful it would be. You still have to guide and create a learning space that jives with different kinds of learning styles.

So let’s look back to the math. For a 50-minute session I can teach three concepts, one through a well-designed, more intense, active-learning strategy. This builds my base of prioritizing my content because it’s a formula. Adding this method to the madness works for me, providing a solid foundation on which to place my creativity and expectations.

Not everything you do in a session needs to be ground-breakingly brilliant and meet very instruction criteria out there, another pressure we put on ourselves. What we should do is focus on steadily working towards that “perfect” instruction session with the understanding that we will probably never get to Library Instruction Nirvana- if it exists. I’m not asking you to lower your expectations but rather strategize your pace and methods. By intentionally choosing to experiment with active-learning you make slow, more accurate progress toward Library Instruction Nirvana; which is the goal, right? Trying to do everything does not ensure you are doing it well. Choose what is most important, most valuable, and most exciting right now– and do it fabulously.

Resources

Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.

Burkhardt, J. (2016). Teaching information literacy reframed: 50+ framework-based exercises for creating information-literate learners. Chicago: Neal-Schuman, an imprint of the American Library Association.

Cardiff University. (2015). Handbook for information literacy teaching. Available at:                http://sites.cardiff.ac.uk/ilrb/handbook/

Concordia University. (2016). Interactive teaching styles used in the classroom. Retrieved from http://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/tech-ed/5-interactive-teaching-styles-2/

Kelly, C. (2013, August 26). Clinton Kelly’s official Facebook page. Retrieved from                 https://www.facebook.com/Clintonkellyofficial/posts/542729859113885


Author

Hanna Schmillen is a new professional who started her first post-MLIS position July 2015 as the Health Sciences and Professions Subject Librarian at Ohio University. She’s engaged in Academic Library Association of Ohio (ALAO), the Music Library Association (MLA), the Midwest chapter of MLA, and the Ohio Health Sciences Library Association (OHSLA). Her research interests include instruction strategies, the training and education of new and soon-to-be librarians, as well as data management and eScience. Hanna also has the cutest mutt named Mosby, who is a German Shepard, Corgi, Basset Hound mix; likes to kayak, hike, and hammock whenever possible; and loves to cook and bake.

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ALAO Spring Workshop: Call for Presenters

Instruction Interest Group Spring Workshop–April 20, 2017
Learning from experience: Sharing applied threshold concept methods in instruction

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Have you begun piloting or experimenting with applications of ACRL’s new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education? Do you have an assignment or activity to share on a threshold concept? Do you have a fruitful collaboration with faculty in implementing the Framework at your institution? If so, the Academic Library Association of Ohio’s (ALAO) Instruction Interest group invites you to share your activities and experiences at our Spring Workshop, “Learning from experience: Sharing applied threshold concept methods in instruction” on Thursday, April 20th at the State Library of Ohio.

ALAO’s Instruction Interest Group (IIG) is looking for presenters who have designed and taught library assignments or activities that teach any of the six threshold concepts. Do you have fresh ideas you’d like to present? Now’s your chance!

We are interested in breakout sessions that offer insights in any of the following topics:

  • Adapting or creating new assignments or activities
  • One-shot instruction and the new Framework
  • Practical applications of the Framework
  • Setting learning outcomes
  • Best practices and discoveries
  • Finding common ground between the old Standards and new Framework
  • Collaboration with Faculty
  • Curriculum mapping
  • Online learning modules/tutorials

The deadline for proposals for is Feb. 15, 2017. To submit your idea, please click on the following link and fill out the form: https://goo.gl/forms/5nylQF3nUW6hYU1d2. Session proposals will be reviewed by the IIG planning committee.

Please e-mail any questions to IIG Co-Chairs Dana Knott (dknott@cscc.edu) and Mark Eddy (mxe37@case.edu).

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A Follow-Up: Teaching Creatively by Mandi Goodsett

Thanks to the generosity of the Instruction Interest Group, I had an opportunity to present about creative library instruction at the ALAO conference in Wilmington, OH, this past October. I thought it might be helpful for those who missed the session or wanted some more in-depth details about creativity in the classroom to share some of the ideas I discovered while preparing this session.

The idea of changing-up library instruction can be intimidating, overwhelming, or uncomfortable, especially for those who have an instruction routine that has typically worked well. However, adding new elements to library instruction has several important benefits:

  1. It can be a defense against the discouraging and unrewarding feeling of teaching the same material over and over, sometimes to the same students. Presentations and articles about academic librarian burnout have been circulating quite a bit recently (some examples here, here, and here), demonstrating how important it is that librarians feel their work is valued and rewarding. Creative library instruction can help.
  2. It can be a way to add variety to library instruction for the students. Often, trying something new in class means taking a risk and giving the students more control, which can engage students and, if they’ve already had the “library session” before, may jolt them out of their sense of complacency.
  3. Creative library instruction spurs librarians to try new—albeit well-vetted—ideas in the classroom, which may lead to better instruction and assessment. In my own experience, the more I tweak my instruction, the better it becomes.

But how can someone become more creative? The field of psychology provides some clues. The personality traits most commonly associated with creativity are plasticity, divergence, and convergence (Kaufman, 2013). Plasticity describes one’s openness to new experiences, and it’s this trait that is more consistently predictive of creativity than any other (Kaufman, 2013). In the classroom, this could mean trying something new, no matter how small, in every library instruction session. Found an instruction idea you’ve never used before? Give it a shot! The more open you are to the unfamiliar experiences that result from trying new things in the classroom, the less fear you will feel trying creative classroom endeavors in the future (Henrikson, 2013; Nerdi, et al., 2014).

Divergence is a buzzword that is usually associated with coming up with many different solutions to a problem, and this is certainly relevant to creativity (Dietrich, 2015). However, as a personality trait, divergence has more to do with independence and nonconformity. Divergent individuals may even be unpleasant to work with at times, since they often ignore the ideas of others and move in entirely new directions. This departure from what has been done before is very important to creative thinking, however (Kaufman, 2013). In library instruction, this might mean starting with someone else’s idea and putting a completely new spin on it to see what happens. It might also mean rethinking how to teach an information literacy topic, entirely ignoring the standard way of doing so. The result could be something radically different, yet also effective.

The final personality trait commonly associated with creativity is convergence, which has to do with precision and persistence. This might surprise you—aren’t creative people supposed to be disorganized and free-spirited? As it turns out, psychologists have found that unless creative people can find practical ways to apply their creative ideas to real-world problems, they lack a trait that is important for the success of creative endeavors (Kaufman, 2013). Consideration of how creative ideas can be organized and promoted can be just as important as the divergent, non-conformist thinking that generated the ideas. In library instruction, this means considering the implications of trying a new creative idea in the classroom. How will the students be affected? Does the timing of the lesson need to be changed? What else will need to be done to prepare the students? This also means assessing creative instructional activities to be sure they were as effective as you’d hoped, as well as making decisions about future instructional design based on the assessment.

The biggest take-away I got from reading about creativity in the field of psychology is that creative thinking often involves bringing two or more existing ideas from different domains or people together to make something new (Dietrich, 2015; Kaufman, 2013). Librarianship often embraces idea-sharing, so I think librarians’ capacity to teach creatively is enormous! Looking at what else has been done and adapting it to your own teaching is a great first step to making your instruction more creative. And this doesn’t only mean exploring what other academic librarians have done. Talk with your colleagues in other disciplines, or with librarians at other types of libraries—what do they know about how people learn that can help you find an exciting, effective, new way of teaching information literacy? In the end, creative teaching isn’t about reinventing the wheel; it’s about keeping an open mind to make connections where none existed before.

References

Dietrich, A. (2015). How creativity happens in the brain. New York: Springer.

Henriksen, D., & Mishra, P. (2013). Learning from creative teachers. Educational Leadership, 70(5). Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb13/vol70/num05/Learning-from-Creative-Teachers.aspx

Kaufman, S. B. (2013). Beautiful minds: The real neuroscience of creativity. Scientific American. Retrieved from https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/the-real-neuroscience-of-creativity/

Kaufman, S. B., & Gregoire, C. (2015). Wired to create: Unraveling the mysteries of the creative mind. Perigee, New York, NY.

Nerdi, C., Goodwin, M., Vetting Wolf, T., Olive, S-B, & Maher Wizel, M. (2014). The five habits of creative teachers. Education Week Teacher. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2014/08/19/ctq_nardi_creative.html


Author

Mandi Goodsett is the Performing Arts & Humanities Librarian at Cleveland State University. For more helpful information on creative library instructional design, be sure to visit Mandi’s research guide and her blog. Mandi Goodsett can be contacted at a.goodsett@csuohio.edu.

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ALAO Annual Conference 2016

I hope that everyone had an enlightening time at ALAO’s Annual Conference in Wilmington, Ohio!

It was the Instruction Interest Group’s privilege to sponsor the session “Improving Learner Experience through Creative Library Instructional Design,” presented by Mandi Goodsett from Cleveland State University. As instruction librarians I’m sure that we’ve all had moments when we need to reignite that creative spark to add new life to our library instruction classes. Mandi shared many fascinating bits of information about how creativity is wired in the brain. The good news is that humans are hardwired to create, but a lack of control over classroom content and time constraints present barriers that may hinder creativity, especially in one-shot instruction sessions.

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Mandi Goodsett presenting “Improving Learner Experience through Creative Library Instructional Design.”

In addition to connecting with interests and establishing achievable goals, instruction librarians can seek help from their colleagues by developing collaborative and critical friendships. Mandi suggests having two peers, neither of them supervisors, meet and observe a class to offer a critique. Teaching squares offer a less critical and more reflective approach: A group of librarians can observe each other’s classes and instead of a critique focus on self-reflection. Librarians should always answer the question, What specific steps will you take to cultivate creative habits of the mind?

To help answer that question, here are Mandi’s Top Five Creative Approaches:

  1. Real-World Examples.
  2. Brainstorming, such as concept maps.
  3. Storytelling. The novel How Opal Mehta got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life works well to demonstrate plagiarism.
  4. Games.
  5. CATS (Classroom Assessment Techniques), such as the minute paper.

Technology can also help with brainstorming sessions and sharing ideas. Mandi uses Padlet, an online tool that allows students to share ideas on a virtual wall. Even a simple tool can add another layer to library instruction.

For more helpful information on creative library instructional design, be sure to visit Mandi’s research guide and her blog. Mandi Goodsett can be contacted at a.goodsett@csuohio.edu.


Dana Knott, IIG Co-Chair
Columbus State Community College

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Registration Is Now Open!

ALAO Spring Workshop 2016 Banner

Registration is now open for the ALAO Instruction Interest & Assessment Groups’ Spring 2016 workshop!

WHEN: Wednesday, April 20, from 9 AM to 3 PM

WHERE: The State Library of Ohio (Directions)

HOW MUCH: $35 (ALAO Member), $45 (Non-Member), $20 (Student), meals included

REGISTER: http://alaoweb.org/event-2186472


Evolve in your thinking about ACRL’s new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education!

Keynote speaker Professor Craig Gibson, Interim Head of the Fine Arts Library at The Ohio State University, will lead the morning session with “The Framework for Information Literacy: Moving Forward with Implementation.” His presentation will be followed by a hands-on workshop of redesign library activities to meet the new framework.

The afternoon sessions will feature Mary J. Snyder Broussard presenting “Facilitating Formative Assessment with Interactive Tutorials” and Melissa Engleman presenting “The Other LO: Limiting Outcomes (and Objectives).” Both are great real-word examples of using assessment in library instruction.

The afternoon will end with a round table discussion Information Literacy Assessment Therapy where colleagues can share experiences and answer questions on information literacy assessment.

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ALAO Spring Workshop 2016 Rev

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