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On Thursday, June 13, 2013, I attended the 8th Annual Metrolina Information Literacy Conference, held at Johnson & Wales University in downtown Charlotte. The day started with a keynote by ACRL President Steven Bell, and then separated into four breakout sessions along four tracks: pedagogy/instruction, assessment, diversity, and collaboration.

Steven Bell, Higher Education Rebooted: Exploring the New Mysteries of Information Literacy

Bell framed his discussion around the concept of mysteries and wicked problems. Mysteries are important because they bring new discoveries and knowledge, and make us tackle problems creatively. Rather than being complacent about the solutions we come up with, we should continue to adapt our solutions, which will lead to more growth. Wicked problems are complex challenges that are characterized by ambiguity and shifting qualities. His examples of current wicked problems in higher education were:

  • what are students learning that will get them jobs?
  • why does higher education cost so much?
  • can we make it less expensive?

Regarding information literacy, his wicked problems were:

  • are we making a difference?
  • do students learn what we say they do?
  • are we/they academically successful?
  • do students really become life-long learners?

Clearly, assessment is an important component of answering these wicked problems. One current solution is the project to update the ACRL Information Literacy Standards, which hasn’t been done since 2000, as well as the Assessment in Action project that just got started.

Session #1: Jennifer Resor Whicker & Lisa Vassady, Radford University, A Novel Approach to Assessment: Using Worksheet Observation Assessment in One-Shot Instruction Classes

Resor Whicker and Vassady presented the observational worksheet approach they developed at Radford University to assess student learning in their information literacy sessions, which are taught in conjunction with General Ed courses. They focused on assessing two sessions: search strategies and databases, and website evaluation. They created worksheets for the students to use in class, and then collected those worksheets at the end of each session. Immediately following each session, the librarian wrote a reflection on how they felt the class went (student engagement, faculty preparation, success of active learning exercises). After the librarian evaluated herself and how the session went, she evaluated the students’ worksheets using an assessment rubric, to see how successful the students were in following and applying the information and techniques the librarian presented. Using the results from the student worksheet assessment, the librarian then wrote another reflection on whether or not the student worksheets matched with their initial impression of student learning, or if they might need to make changes to their presentation or exercises. This evaluation and redevelopment process was continuous during the semester and not limited to the end of the semester.

I liked this idea and am trying to figure out how I might be able to apply it to LIB250. I already use worksheets in the course, but usually let the students keep them so they can use them as they work on their daily assignments. It may be most useful to be more purposeful and formal in my post-class reflection on how the session went and how it could be changed.

One exercise example they used that I really liked was in regards to website evaluation. They initially show the students a website that is unreliable for academic use, and tell them that it is and why. Then they pose a research question to the students, and ask them what qualities the “perfect” website on that topic would have by answering the five w’s: Who would have written/prepared/sponsored it? When would it have been written? Why would it have been made?, etc… Then they have to search for a website they think meets these criteria. I like this idea of the “perfect” website on a topic, as I think students just search for a website that is “good enough” rather than looking for something that really answers their question.

Session #2: Kaetrena Davis, USC-Lancaster, & Deborah Tritt, USC-Aiken, Serving Information Literacy via Digital Humanities

Davis and Tritt mapped the use of various tools to the standards and performance indicators that are shared by those who work in both information literacy and the digital humanities (identifies keywords & concepts, selects and uses appropriate documentation style, etc…). Many of these tools are familiar to most of us (Prezi, Zotero, Evernote) but there were a few that were new to me, so I’ll share those.

  • Text2mindmap: an easy way to create concept maps or outlines, helps students think of key words and how concepts are connected
  • VoiceThread: allows asynchronous discussion on presentations, images, etc…especially useful for online courses
  • Bamboo DiRT: this website is a clearinghouse for digital research tools. Organized by tool type, click on the various categories for a curated list of tools that will help you if you need to: brainstorm, transcribe notes, visualize data, etc…

A few other tools suggested during the discussion:

  • Screencast-O-Matic: a free and easy program that will record video tutorials using screen capture on either Macs or PCs. More flexible and has more features than Jing!
  • bubler & popplet: collaboration & brainstorming software
  • tiki-toki & Timeline JS: software for creating timelines

Session #3: Mae Rodney & Forest Foster, Winston-Salem State University, Moving From Output Measures to Confirming the Value of the Library

Rodney and Foster shared the ways that O’Kelly Library at WSSU has been working to demonstrate the value of the library to the educational mission of the university and its impact on the success of their students. They designed a (IRB approved) study that would look at student interactions with library services (study room reservations, instruction sessions attended, media lab logins) as tracked by the email address used to login on library computers, and correlate that to student success. Being on the dean’s list was decided to be the standard of student success. Students were also asked to take quick surveys, which were administered at the library entrance on iPads, and which collected more subjective information, such as how often the student thought they used the library, how using the library impacted them, etc… Once users were identified by their email logins and all of these various streams of data were collated, they were compared to the dean’s list to see what percentage of overlap there was. WSSU is still in the process of tallying the data, so they don’t know the outcome yet, but they are hoping this will be a strong way to demonstrate that library usage contributes directly to student success.

Session #4: Jenny Dale & Lynda Kellam, UNC-Greensboro, Lost in Emotion: Emotional Intelligence and the Teaching Librarian

Jenny and Lynda always give high-energy presentations, so this session was a lot of fun! Most of us went in to the session thinking of emotional intelligence as limited to empathy and compassion. While those qualities are certainly part of the whole, there are other aspects to consider. Using the work of Alan Mortiboys, Teaching with Emotional Intelligence, and Daniel Goleman’s Working with Emotional Intelligence, they outlined these two concepts:

  • Mortiboy’s three categories for teachers: (1): subject expertise, knowledge, authority, (2): organized, gives feedback, clarity, engaged, (3): affective, positive, empathetic, open: each of these areas contribute to a well-rounded teacher
  • Goleman’s five competencies in the workplace: (1): self-awareness, (2): self-regulation, (3): motivation, (4): empathy, (5): social skills: areas 1-3 are personal competencies, while 4 & 5 are social competencies

Their suggestions for teaching with empathy were to:

  • set ground rules and explain expectations
  • use active listening skills (move on if your students understand a concept)
  • acknowledge individual learners by making eye contact, learning their names and referring to their previous class contributions
  • know your style and play to your strengths
  • know what motivates you as a teacher
  • be aware of verbal and non-verbal communication

As always, I would be happy to talk more with anyone about these presentations! I have more notes and handouts that I would be glad to share, and the slides and prezi’s should be posted to the Metrolina Conference page soon.