All posts by Laura Schwartz

Discussion: Research Skills and College Readiness

A small group convened to review Carolyn’s post on Research Skills and College Readiness. We discussed the assumption that all students need preparation to be “college ready” when they arrive at UT Austin. All students should learn writing skills and research skills in the UGS courses. Sometimes professors assume that the students have a more advanced set of skills than they actually have. When teaching these classes the expectation is to start from scratch when teaching information literacy skills. In addition, some students are required to take rhetoric classes to become college ready.


We then discussed assignment design and the role librarians can play in designing research assignments that are more than just linear but fuzzy. It is not just about solving a problem but formulating it. We also discussed how the research process is cyclical not necessarily linear. It is regularly emphasized to first year students that the research process is circular.


We learned that Engineering assignments are set up with formulating problems as well as finding solutions. It would be difficult to break out of the step by step process from first year students and work towards this idea of formulating problems. Topics should be selected after preliminary research gets done but often topics get picked with very little research done.


We also learned about primary sources and how important it is to spend time with archival collections and how important it is to really look at things in the humanities. If you look closely, formulating questions should come next. This varies greatly from the social sciences where you are constantly looking at and analyzing the data and the evidence.


We discussed how to help the students ask questions when they have a research problem and why students may be reluctant to ask for research help but they don’t seem to be reluctant to ask for writing or tutoring help.   Why is this?   If they were encouraged by their peers to ask for research help this makes a difference. Research shows that students think they are proficient in research skills but much of the time they are not. This may also be a reason that they don’t ask for assistance.


We discussed research and writing expectations in high school and how these expectations are different in college and how new skills need to be taught and old skills even unlearned.

RIOT: Visual Literacy Discussion

Beatty, N. A. (2013) Cognitive Visual Literacy: From Theories and Competencies to Pedagogy. Art Documentation, 32(1), 33-42.

This article reviews the ACRL standards and demonstrates ways to integrate visual literacy instruction into the classroom. The author also reviews cognitive theories associated with visual literacy.

First the author makes the case for why visual literacy is essential to being literate in the 21st century. Images are everywhere and we interact with them on a daily basis both in our professional and personal lives. Creating and posting images is a regular activity for most of us. The author argues that librarians can include visual literacy instruction into information literacy instruction. And I would argue when it is appropriate or when it makes sense. She argues that cognitive theories such as Dual Coding Theory, Cognitive Load Theory and Multimedia Learning Theory can help teach visual literacy to students.

Here are brief explanations of the theories:
Dual Coding Theory: humans have a visual memory and a verbal memory.
Cognitive Load Theory: when new information is presented it is best to tie it with existing information already in the long term memory.
Multimedia Learning Theory: Using words to describe images. Is this a challenge?

The Visual Literacy Standards definition: “a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use and create images and visual media.”

The author mentions the following visual literacy standards and performance indicators in the paper though this is not a complete list of performance indicators. I have provided examples for application from either the author or myself:

Standard 1. The visually literate student determines the nature and extent of the visual material needed.
1. The visually literate student defines and articulates a need for an image
2. The visually literate student identifies a variety of images sources, materials and types (ex. Help students find images, show them more effective ways to find images and introduce tools)

Standard 2. The visually literate student finds and accesses needed images and visual media effectively and efficiently. (ex. Ask students to find images on a particular topic)

Standard 3. The visually literate student interprets and analyzes the meanings of images and visual media.
1. The visually literate student can identify information relevant to an image’s meaning.
2. The visually literate student situates an image in its cultural, social and historical contexts.
3. The visually literate student should be able to identify the physical, technical and design components of an image. (ex. Analog or born digital; original or reproduction; altered or manipulated)
4. The visually literate student validates interpretation and analysis of images through discourse with others. (ex. this could be done in a seminar style class)

Standard 4. The visually literate student evaluates images and their sources (ex. Comparing images of an iconic work like the Mona Lisa)

Standard 5. The visually literate student uses images effectively for different purposes. (ex. Performance indicator 2: using technology effectively. Using new digital media lab and programming available)

Standard 6. The visually literate student designs and creates meaningful images and visual media. (ex. Performance indicator 3: using a variety of tools and technologies to produce images and visual media. Again leveraging the digital media lab offerings)

Standard 7. The visually literate student understands many of the ethical, legal, social and economic issues surrounding the creation and use of images and visual media, and accesses and uses visual materials ethically. (ex. Comparing the same image and metadata/citation from two different sources)

The author talks about finding an image in an art history class but do you teach classes where the students clearly needs to find images?

Are you familiar with the ACRL Visual Literacy standards? Do you incorporate Visual Literacy into library instruction?

Do you think it is important to discuss visual literacy with students outside of the visual disciplines? Or do you think visual literacy is interdisciplinary?

Do you show students how to find images and how to use particular tools to find images?

Do you teach students how to cite images analogous to citing textual sources?

How can we create opportunities in the new Digital Media Labs for teaching Visual Literacy?

Discussion: It’s not just an event…It’s a classroom

Kristen kicked off the discussion by asking the group about collaboration with student organizations.
Benson has been involved in a student led anthropology conference. They have also worked with student groups such as a Spanish and Portuguese group who wanted information about the Benson. AJ will go to a classroom to talk to a group of students, in this case there were 15-20. This again is student initiated.
Teaching and Learning Services (TLS formerly LIS) works with student groups. RAs will ask them for a study break or pre-Law student groups will ask for a presentation about the Libraries. The Welcome Tables were also mentioned. Michele considered the learning outcomes for the welcome tables and thought relieving library anxiety would be one. Peer mentors were also mentioned.
When Roxanne puts on a Science Study Break she always makes time for information about the library and relevant to the study break to the attendees.
For Poetry month, Kristen partnered with students including a Design class who designed a broadside for an upcoming event. She has also been considering classes in the library about poetry led by students.
The art history undergraduate symposium was mentioned, both assisting students in preparing their visuals and the FAL co-sponsoring the event. Laura plans to mention the FAL and its resources at the event.
April mentioned the student entrepreneurs group and assisting the students in their 72 hour marathon. She helps the students get started with their projects and research.
PG mentioned vendors coming to campus and looking to students as their audience. Vendors have considered having experts come and lead a discussion. This is primarily motivated by marketing.
There are so many student groups, some are stable and some are fleeting. They are looking for space to meet and connect, so the Libraries has an opportunity. But we must offer more than space. We must offer the value-added service. We need to find partnerships that are related to student learning.
In the media lab focus groups, creating newsletters for student organizations came up as a need. A workshop in the space could consist of creating a newsletter and a design faculty or grad student could lead it.
The Archives workshop was mentioned. This is coming up next month. Elise steered the conversation to the Archives Week programming that she wants to do in the Fall. She is trying to work with the Society for American Archivists student group. She is hoping for a faculty panel about how archives are used in the classroom or possibly students talking about how they have used archives in their class projects.
Kelly mentioned the K-12 Mapping Workshop led by Julianne at the Benson. Two grad students who worked on mapping and worked with Benson maps presented. This was partly student led.
The conversation then moved to student initiated or student curated exhibits. Martha talked about the exhibit currently being mounted at Architecture and Planning. She also wondered about engaging students in much smaller exhibits, for example students could work on a display of special collections objects they came across in their research. She also mentioned that she was giving her end of semester presentation in the Alexander Architectural Archive for the class she was taking this semester.
The discussion then moved to engaging students in pulling materials for exhibit or display. And we talked about the difficulties of setting something up that is driven by someone else and the difficulty of doing something regularly or committing to anything these days.
AJ mentioned the Benson student photo exhibit which is not student led but students are the authors of the work on exhibit.
Brittney discussed the Library Guru idea which is to train students to go out and let other students know about the Library. This works because students tend to be more comfortable with a peer than with a librarian. These trained students should receive compensation for their work.
Building relationships with the Marketing campaign and Advertising campaign classes was also mentioned.
Martha also wondered about leveraging resources for a student competition to redesign how the journals are displayed at the Architecture and Planning.
Janelle talked about Education students and engaging with them about publishing and the publishing process. This is a service that we can grow and that will be of interest to graduate students across disciplines. A library class could be developed and recorded and learning objects could be created around it.
The Texas Teen Book Festival was discussed and its relationship with the Youth Collection. This may be the first step in moving the Texas Book Festival on to campus.
Kristen thanked everyone for contributing to the discussion.