Category Archives: Faculty Collaborations

RIOT Recap – 10/20/15

Krystal’s RIOT enabled us to have a rich discussion regarding the role reading plays in developing student’s information literacy skills while in the library instruction classroom.  To be sure, it would be difficult to evaluate information without reading it, but, as Krystal notes in her blog post, this is often what happens within the classroom setting when we have limited time to integrate active learning and model the research process.
Time is a constant obstacle in the library instruction classroom in even the most concept-driven and pedagogically sound classes. Creating an inauthentic classroom environment, something Roxanne’s earlier blog post investigated, feels appropriately off. However, framing the short evaluation exercises as good habits rather than retain content could help instructors reinforce that the activity is to build skills. Then, after they have developed the skills to evaluate a source, they can deem that source worthy of follow-up and close reading.
So, instead of an active learning classroom scenario like this:
Librarian: “Okay, now take the next five minutes to read your source, in a group develop criteria you would use to evaluate it, and develop a sound argument as to why or why not you would list as a source for your paper, and don’t worry if you don’t finish the article because there isn’t enough time to do that anyway, this is just for a class discussion…” (slightly dramatized)
We could frame it as:
Librarian: “Okay, now take the next five minutes to skim over your source noting elements within and about this source that would help you decide if a closer reading of this source is useful for your paper. Your criteria should be broad enough that it could be used in any class regardless of the assignment or research you’re doing.”
The latter framing would hopefully reinforce that this is a conceptually exercise rather than a content-driven one.
We also discussed a few other strategies, such as:
  • Reaching out to the faculty member to ask if s/he has talked about reading with the students in an effort to compliment or augment that dialogue.
  • Using and promoting educational technology, such as Endnote Web and Noodletools. Roxanne mentioned that she uses Endnote Web to teach students how to keep track of the research they are finding as a way to organize and conceptualize the research process. Michele mentioned that NoodleTools also enables students to annotate their references and add tags which can be used for critical reading.
  • Designing scaffolded assignments, such as the annotated bibliography assignment, which allows students to build skills and draw connections between readings and assignments over the course of the semester.
  • Framing the research question in a way that elicits a more targeted answer. For example, “Does XYZ solve this question” rather than “how does XYZ effect …”?
Many of us already have great relationships with faculty and have collaborated deeply on their courses and using the successes from these partnerships, we discussed ways to reach out to other faculty and illustrate a collaborative approach as a proof of concept. Additionally, are there ways in which we currently support faculty, such as the Information Literacy Toolkit, that can be redesigned to meet faculty where they are or to reach faculty before they have begun to plan their course.
We also discussed that the way in which students reading patterns have changed, mostly online and in segments, could be challenging the way we teaching information literacy.  Students may write a paper first only to go back and find sources that support their points rather than build it from a body of evidence or they may cherry-pick quotes from an article without having read it in entirety.
Roxanne offered up using review articles as a strategy for helping students better understand the synthesis of research papers. You can start with a review article and point out that scholar’s a + b say one thing, scholar’s c + d say this other thing, and then ask students to go back to the original article to see it in full context and how the author of the review article summarized their research. Sarah recommended asking students to read the first paragraph of an article and ask the to pull out keywords from there.
We ended our RIOT with a discussion of the potential of adding an additional approach to our current Signature Course program as a way to reach all students to instill information literacy skills. Because this program already catches all incoming students, it is a captive audience and we already have buy in from the School of Undergraduate Studies. We discussed what such an approach could look like — something online, a tutorial, an interactive video – and perhaps it would be something online that all students are required to complete, that would complement any of the rich course-integration interactions we currently have. Finally, we ended with a reiteration that curriculum mapping could help us define faculty and areas for partnership.

TLS Tips: Designing Meaningful Archives-based Assignments

Some of us are lucky to work with faculty or staff who incorporate our campus’s fantastic special collections into their work. And some of us wish our students worked with these collections more and wonder what we can do to encourage curiosity for these one of a kind objects. Seeking a richer dialog surrounding archives and special collections based assignments for undergraduates, I co-developed, with a then-lecturer in English, a half-day workshop for faculty in spring 2014. Too often archive and special collection based assignments result in tours or show and tell affairs. As librarians and archivists, we recognize that archives offer rich possibilities for undergraduate teaching and learning and want to encourage faculty using archives in their classes to create meaningful assignments that support course objectives.

My involvement in this conversation came about because of the Gem requirement for UGS classes. We in TLS and other librarians with whom we collaborate wanted to find a way to link the information literacy requirement with the Gem requirement. As a preliminary step, I sought out partnerships across campus to learn more about what a fruitful engagement with an archive or special collection can look like. This included joining a campus-wide archives working group (co-chaired by T-Kay) and building deeper partnerships with campus archives and special collections in order to facilitate the exchange of ideas surrounding this topic.  All across campus and disciplines, I found individuals who were excited about getting undergraduates in the archives.

The resulting workshop was designed for faculty wishing to integrate the use of archives and special collections into their undergraduate courses either in a short term manner or in a semester long engagement. We communicated useful information about how faculty can work with archivists and librarians on archives-based assignments and projects, the logistics and preparation required for bringing students into archives, working with archivists and incorporating their expertise into the engagement, and integrating the use of digital archives into the classroom. We also shared examples of archives-based assignments that could be adapted into their courses.

There is still so much work to be done around this topic! I’m excited to be presenting at ACRL this spring, in poster format, some of the work I did. I hope to meet people from other institutions who have thought creatively about this issue.

Here is the guide we made for faculty attending the workshop. Would you guys like to see this workshop adapted for librarians? What would you like to know? What would you like to share? Email me!

Our Partnership with the School of Undergraduate Studies

We have been working closely with the School of Undergraduate Studies (UGS) since it was formed in 2006 and I frequently get questions about our involvement and collaborations.  So I decided to blog about it and hope it will be useful to people interested in the information literacy work we are doing in the core curriculum here at UT.

About the Signature Courses:

UGS offers over 200 Signature Courses each year.  Knowing a little about the Signature Courses is essential to understanding our involvement:

  • Signature Courses are required of every student in their first year at UT.
  • These academically rigorous courses are designed to help students transform from excellent high school students to excellent college students.  Each course has 7 required elements – one of which is information literacy – selected to ensure that students learn how to write, discuss, present and find, evaluate and use information.
  • Distinguished faculty from every discipline across campus teach in this program.  If they are interested, they propose a course which may or may not be accepted by UGS.
  • Courses labelled UGS 302 and TC 302 are small format and capped at 18; courses labelled UGS 303 are large format and can be anywhere from 25 to 300.  The large format classes have discussion sections that meet weekly and are run by specially trained TAs.

History

When we learned that the undergraduate curriculum was being reformed, we began our quest to integrate information literacy into that curriculum.  We spoke with members of the Faculty Senate working on curricular reform as well as influential faculty on campus who supported our goals.  When the inaugural Dean of Undergraduate Studies was appointed, we also approached him and were successful.  We established program-level learning outcomes based on the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards.

Our Program

Our goal is to integrate our program-level learning outcomes into each Signature Course in a way that support the goals of the particular course, and to assess our work to ensure students are learning.  To achieve our goals, we reach out individually to every faculty member teaching a UGS course.  We offer assignment design and course consultations to help faculty incorporate information literacy into their courses; instruction sessions tied to research assignments; tailored research guides; assignments and exercises; tutorials; and training of TAs to teach information literacy skills during discussion sections.   In addition, we work with the UGS’ Sanger Learning Center to support the TAs directly, visiting their learning community cohort meetings to talk about how to teach information literacy skills to freshmen.

We also maintain and develop an Information Literacy Toolkit.  Faculty may browse it to find learning objects they can use as is or adapt to their course on their own or with our help.  It also includes examples of how other faculty have incorporated information literacy into their Signature Courses.

We offer an annual information literacy award to students enrolled in Signature Courses.  While most students are nominated by their faculty, students are also allowed to self-nominate.

Our assessment plan outlines our approach in the Signature Courses, which includes pre and post-testing large numbers of students and assessing individual student work.

Other UGS Programs

In addition to working with the Signature Courses, we are involved with UGS in other ways.

One of our larger programs is with the First-year Interest Group program, or FIGs.  We train all of the FIG mentors (upper division students who lead the interest groups) to lead a game-based program to teach their students what plagiarism is and strategies for avoiding it.  You can read more about our plagiarism prevention approaches here.

We work closely with the Sanger Center in UGS on UGS TA support, but also partner with them to offer workshops in the Libraries on a variety of topics ranging from career exploration to public speaking.  We partner with the Writing Flag Coordinator to teach workshops about teaching writing since it so often overlaps with teaching research.  We support the Honors Colloquium each summer, promote Freshman Reading Round Up and work with the Office of Undergraduate Research.  We are always looking for ways to expand our partnerships.

 

 

 

RIOT: Global Literacy

http://www.emeraldinsight.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/doi/full/10.1108/00907320610716431

Stevens, Christy R., and Patricia J. Campbell. “Collaborating to connect global citizenship, information literacy, and lifelong learning in the global studies classroom.” Reference Services Review 34, no. 4 (November 2006): 536-556.Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts, EBSCOhost (accessed December 1, 2014).

The International Relations Global Studies Program (IRG) at UT began in 2009. It is an interdisciplinary major that draws students primarly from Government, Economics, Sociology, Area Studies and Languages. Since the 2nd semester of the program I have been working with the 3 lead instructors in IRG primarily through their Junior year Capstone program. I’ve provided library information sessions related to their Capstone thesis. I’ve found the students in these classes to be very motivated and knowledgable about their topics.

In searching the professional literature about topics related to global studies, I came across the concept of Global Literacy. In our RIOT discussions, we’ve talked about media literacy, visual literacy and of course, Information Literacy. I wondered if these ideas differed much from this concept of Global Literacy and I found this article that describes some ideas and concepts for librarian-faculty partnerships to develop skills for global citizenship.

This article looks critically at the concepts of lifelong learning, information literacy and global citizenships (terms that are used extensively throughout academia) and shows how they are interdependent by using theories of social capital. Essentially taking the desired competencies of Information Literacy and applying them to a larger global context.

This article describes, in great detail, a series of assignments designed to build these globally aware, communitarian competencies. Principally the assignments dealt with the examination of specific resource conflict from a varity of perspectives from interested parties and the way individuals and institutions influence or are affected by the conflict.

Some topics I’d like to discuss.

To the instructors who have worked on classes that dealt with international topics, have you approached these classes differently? Have you thought about this idea of global literacy?

When teaching students about evaluating information to determine authority, bias etc. do we need to think differently when discussing international topics?

Discussion: Talking Research Data Management

At our February 25 RIOT, Robyn started with including us all, reminding us it’s not just the sciences requiring data management: the NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) and the IES (Institute of Education Sciences) require data management, too. (Tellingly, perhaps, the NEH data management plan executive summary is a PDF. The IES offers a detailed data sharing implementation guide.)

In her post, Robyn outlined a dream workshop building graduate students’ information literacy through data management skills. At the session, we worked through how to move towards such workshop.

Start with a small, focused group: One starting point would be to focus the workshop by working with a small group of graduate students in one lab, or starting with one Principal Investigator, or doing a drop-in session at the Pickle campus. Then, move outward to a department or area. Research says data management education gets too expansive in interdisciplinary groups, so it’s best to focus on a small group.

Perspective of scale: Schools doing this well have teams of dedicated data curation librarians. Purdue (linked to in the original post), for example, has money to invest in infrastructure like this. So, we need strategies to make this scalable as we get started.

So what does this look like? From the librarian’s perspective, data curation might start with a website or online modules teaching students how to organize and manage their files, preparing students to think about and create effective metadata so that the data is truly shareable.

Starting where we are: Structurally, we can start by sharing what we have. Let’s let students know about Box and the UTDR. We also have data sets available through subscription to ICPSR (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research); using this tool, we could build data literacy.

Then build skills: The critical scaffolding for using Box and UTDR effectively includes issues like copyright and the ethics of open data. These conversations open up space to think about how graduating students leave data behind, how well-structured data can increase citation.

Sharing data: This approach could build capacity within UT, since people want free data sets to use with undergraduate classes, particularly with the growth of digital humanities. Building UT awareness of data management frameworks and metadata best practices would allow UT classes to use UT student and faculty data sets, an exciting prospect.

Connected to Learning Commons Initiative: During focus groups for the learning commons, students and faculty said they wanted help using Excel to manage data. This would include both help using Excel and help understanding data analysis (as well as understanding that changing how we analyze the data can change our results).

Next steps:

  • Build data management discussion/awareness into graduate student orientations.
  • Add data management resources to research guides.
  • Curriculum mapping to find out where students are using/creating data.
  • Get started with small, scalable groups.

Our role is in building best practices, connecting researchers with data networks for the future.

RIOT: Research Data Management (aka Data Management, Data Curation, and Data Stewardship)

One of my goals is to provide a workshop on data management for engineering graduate students.  Instead of presenting on a particular article, I’d like to highlight some of the initiatives done at other universities.  Many of these schools have dedicated library staff working, to some degree, on data management instruction and/or outreach.  Many of my engineering colleagues are working on this issue, but this is not solely an engineering topic, librarians from the natural sciences and social sciences are often part of an interdisciplinary team.  I’m curious if others are working in this area with your students/faculty?

Why would students want our help with managing their data?

  • Prevent data loss (preservation)
  • Continuity among rotating graduate students
  • Providing unusable data is not nice.  In other words, if a dataset is made available in an acceptable format other researchers, educators, and the general public can benefit from your work.  [Of course, personal/private information, patent and proprietary issues are taken into account.]
  • Funding requirement*

*Data Management Plan: This is a requirement of funding agencies including the NSF, NEH, NIH, IMLS and the Institute of Education Sciences.  Straight forward(ish) – a data management plan demonstrates to the funding agency how you will make your datasets freely available to the public.  Colleen has a helpful page and the DMPTool is a service that provides step by step instructions for researchers.  Not a place to re-invent the wheel.

Big data: So I’m not talking about managing “big data”. This is the type of work being conducted by the likes of CERN, the federal government, and Target.

Why should we be interested in providing Research Data Management services?

  • There is a definite need among graduate students and post docs.
  • This is an important trend within our profession.
  • This with be a topic for a future UT Strategic Initiative.

Sample of ARL institutions:

MIT – Data Management and Publishing: MIT has a great website, one that I will use as a model in creating my own research data management web page.  While they don’t have a dedicated position for data management services, they do have a team of 5 librarians from various departments including engineering, economics, and biosciences.

Purdue – Research and Data Services: Data Curation Profiles

University of Minnesota – Managing your data: Another great website, I will borrow from these guys as well.  They also have videos of previous workshops.

University of Virginia Library – Data Management Consulting Group: U.Va. has 4 data consultants! In addition to having a great website they have a Library Research Data Services Newsletter, provide Data Services office hours, and conduct a series of data management workshops.

Potential Modules:

  1. Overview (i.e. why managing your data is important)
  2. File organization best practices/standards
  3. Metadata
  4. Data storage and security protocols
  5. Data sharing options (i.e. Institutional repositories vs subject based repositories)
  6. Copyright and Ethics
  7. Funding requirements/Data Management Plan (DMP)

Resources/Toolkits for Librarians:

All RIOT: communicating value with dwindling time

I’ve been looking at articles about communicating value, faculty librarian collaboration, outreach, etc. until I want to barf. I can’t find anything that grabs me and swings me around, so I am going to pose some thoughts about communicating value. Sorry to not have an article.

First, a positive thought. Luis Carcamo-Huechante was overjoyed with the results of his UGS class “The Art of Human Rights.” He had three different library sessions, including Krystal and myself doing an instruction session, Christian Kelleher at the Benson doing a session on how (and why) one would want to use an archive, and T-Kay did one on how the libraries is approaching archiving fragile human rights materials. He said that students responded positively to all of the sessions, and is hoping to repeat the class in the future. He came by a couple of weeks ago and was adamant that the course would not have worked without the contributions of the libraries.

Next, a frustration. The value of the Benson is not difficult to communicate to most faculty. However, what they value (usually the archives), and how they want their students to use the Benson (usually the archives) isn’t always the best use of the library or their students’ time . I constantly have these poor undergrads coming in and needing to find primary resources in the archives on their topics. Usually topics  like immigration along the Texas border, or Mayan astronomy.  More often than not we end up finding the primary source online, or in our regular collection, and I fear how a professor will react to that.

Finally, I would like to a few minutes discussing continuing to communicate value in the face of dwindling time/resources/ability to collaborate on multiple levels, including instruction.

All RIOT: If we pay them, will they come?

In my search for innovative faculty collaboration models and mind-blowing secrets of success, one thing became clear. We (librarians) are usually the ones seeking collaboration. When I couldn’t find anything I wanted to RIOT on in the library literature, I turned to a multi-disciplinary database only to find more of the same. With this in mind, how do we convince faculty members that we are worth collaborating with, and how far are we willing to go?

Miller, I. (2010). Turning the tables: A faculty-centered approach to integrating information literacy. Reference Service Review, 38(4), 647-662.

In this case study, librarians secured a grant to invite faculty members from two departments per year to participate in a workshop designed to help them write departmental information literacy standards, and to formulate assignments and assessments to integrate them into their curricula.

Faculty participants were given copies of the ACRL information literacy standards (both general and discipline-specific), but were instructed to develop their own standards and learning outcomes for information literacy. The authors reported success (especially in the second year of the program), and recommended (amont other things) paying participating faculty and giving them ownership in such collaborations.

I was particularly interested in what didn’t work. They found that even though they were being paid, faculty failed to read chosen workshop readings, and therefore failed to hold fruitful discussions of information literacy. Assessment planning also failed, in part due to the lack of reading. Faculty members were very interested in the technological skills that librarians had to offer, but it sounds like they were less interested in techniques that we believe lead to student learning such as scaffolding skills from one course to the next. They had trouble understanding the concept of sequencing learning outcomes throughout the degree program.

What do we take from this? While I think that we have room for innovation in collaboration models, I think we need to be careful not to water down our expertise in an attempt to appeal to busy faculty members. How can we invite collaboration while still upholding the standards developed by our profession and making sure that students get the best of what we have to offer?

The Timing of the Research Question: First-Year Writing Faculty and Instruction Librarians’ Differing Perspectives

Jennifer E. Nutefall, & Phyllis Mentzell Ryder. (2010). The Timing of the Research Question: First-Year Writing Faculty and Instruction Librarians’ Differing Perspectives. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 10(4), 437-449.

[In case this sounds familiar, this article draws on the same research that the authors published in an article Michele discussed in an earlier RIOT, but from a different perspective.]

The study reported in this article used an extremely small and focused sample, but I’m hoping we can use it as a jumping off point for discussing librarian and faculty expectations across our different disciplines as well as our own expectations regarding the timing of the research question.

The authors interviewed four faculty members who taught within the first-year writing program at George Washington University and three instruction librarians who supported the program in 2005.  The faculty/librarian collaboration in this program is written into the program description:  “Each semester, faculty and librarians are partnered according to interest and research expertise, and ongoing partnerships are supported. Faculty and librarians are encouraged to collaborate on all stages of the course including choosing course texts, devising effective research assignments, and planning and teaching information literacy sessions.”  The transcripts of these interviews were then coded to facilitate discovery of common themes in the discussions between the two populations.

Participants agreed on some basic tenets of a good research question:

1) It should be complex and not have an immediately obvious answer.

2) It should be worth answering with consideration of its meaning and value to the intended audience.

3) It should be interesting to the student.

The point of disagreement arose when the timing of the research question was discussed, with varying opinions about whether the research question should actually be a question and when that question should be formulated.  The authors write, “Faculty members talked about the process of narrowing down a topic to a question and how this can occur over the better part of the semester. On the other hand, the librarians stated that a student’s topic needs to be narrowed down as one of the initial steps.”

Examples from the transcript highlighting these differing opinions are shared, with both faculty and librarians describing their work with students to help them reach a research question.  Faculty reported that they tell students they probably won’t know their actual research question ’til the end of the semester, while several of the librarians insisted that students needed to narrow their focus at the beginning of the semester.  While faculty seemed to embrace the idea that students would be inundated with relevant information that would lead to a more nuanced understanding of their topic, the librarians were concerned with students reaching a level of focus that would allow them to examine a smaller set of sources.

If you only read one part of this article, jump to the Discussion, which includes two contrasting faculty and librarian quotes that really get to heart of the difference in approaches.

From my perspective, this is really about the faculty and the librarians wanting the students to approach research like either a faculty member or a librarian — and the authors reach the same conclusion.  The faculty members wanted to be immersed in information, taking the time to learn more and generate questions from that point of immersion, using prior knowledge to focus and narrow these questions.  This is the professional scholar’s job and an expectation of how they will spend their time.

The librarian wants the student to start from a clear point of inquiry where keywords can be brainstormed and information can be searched and synthesized into an answer to the research question for a particular audience.  Again, this is the professional librarian’s job — to take the question and find the relevant information, with a reference interview often helping to clarify the question to facilitate this approach.  And, to oversimplify matters, the librarians  support the faculty member’s research process, providing information to answer the questions that happen along the way, but librarians aren’t there during the immersive experience that generates those questions. It doesn’t surprise me that this becomes a point of conflict when both faculty and librarians are attempting to support the same students towards the same goal in a semester-long course.

But taking this conclusion out of the environment of a semester-long collaboration and translating it the administration of an instruction program built mostly on one-shots, you can see the same point of conflict causing frustrations.  It explains why a faculty member might not think it’s important for students to have their topics when they arrive at the beginning of the semester.  It explains why drafting an outline for a session to demonstrate a research process can feel so artificial for courses where students are given the freedom to develop a topic that interests them over the course of the semester.  And it explains why we sometimes run into research assignments where the faculty member hasn’t considered whether or not the information is going to exist for students to successfully answer the research questions they’re likely to generate based on the prompt — we expect people to look into the future and envision the information they need from the start.

The following questions come to mind:

1) Is this situation unique to writing faculty and courses or is it to be expected from across disciplines?

2) How can we provide better support for the exploratory stage of the research process being encouraged by faculty?

3) The conclusions states, “The authors’ recommendation is for faculty and librarians who teach collaboratively to meet and explicitly discuss their expectations for when students will arrive at their research question, what that question might look like, and what roles the faculty and librarian will play in guiding them to a research focus.” What would this conversation look like when translated to a one-shot collaboration?