Several times a year, the ACRL Instruction Section Teaching Methods Committee selects and interviews a librarian who demonstrates a passion for teaching, innovation, and student learning.
Name: Maurice Hines
Institution: American University in Cairo
Job Title: Reference & Instruction Librarian
Number of Years Teaching: 5 years teaching information literacy and 6 years teaching Arabic
What are you reading right now?
For pleasure: Metaphysical Africa by Michael Muhammad Knight. For work: P.O.W.E.R. Learning and Your Life by Robert Feldman. For studies: Anwar ‘Ulwiy al-Ajram fi’l Kashf ‘an Asrar al-Ahram by Muhammad al-Idrisi
What’s your favorite season?
The sweet spot when the summer transitions to autumn.
Describe a favorite activity that you use with students.
One of my favorite activities to use with students is a group activity called “Academic Scandal.” It revolves around the case in which Dr. Dipak Das was accused of falsifying data. After giving students a brief background on the case, they are asked to find an academic article he published in our database, as well as primary sources about the situation. To wrap up, students are asked to reflect on what they learned in the activity. This activity touches on many aspects of information literacy: academic integrity, questioning scholarly authority, lateral reading, and information creation as a process among other things. The students’ reflections usually reveal that they have not considered a situation in which they had to be critical of a scholarly source. They usually state something to the effect that they will read more than one source to ensure the information they find is accurate. I am always pleased with the discussions I have with students following this activity.
What are you doing to make your instruction more inclusive?
An ongoing project to make my instruction more inclusive has been to make my activities more accessible for visually impaired students. In the past, having a visually impaired student has caught me off guard and I did not have much recourse short of meeting with the student individually to help them understand and complete every assignment. Being online throughout the pandemic and not having that one-to-one contact has made me a lot more aware of how students work and how lack of contact can be a hindrance to learning. Now that we are back face-to-face, I have decided to be more proactive in creating resources and activities that are accessible to the visually impaired. For instance, for easier navigation of the library website, I have created a LibGuide that arranges the major features of the library in an image-free format that’s more conducive to screen readers. Likewise, I have noticed that the way I normally teach citations relied on visual features, so I designed a version of the activity that is more verbally descriptive. I hope to continue these efforts for future generations of students.
Name two things you would share with a librarian who is new to teaching.
1) Teaching is not difficult but it does require effort. 2) Measure your teaching by what you learn about your students.
What are your favorite instructional technologies, and why? What are the advantages and/or challenges of those technologies?
My most preferred instructional technology is the Google Form. I have found it useful for a number of reasons. First, I teach a lot of students each semester (multiple sections of 30+ students for a zero-credit course), which means that I need to enable group work in order to make grading more manageable. By exhausting its features, I am easily able to make group work possible. Secondly, Google Forms has a user-friendly interface that students can access on any device (we’re not able to use our computer lab due to social distancing measures). Finally, the feature that puts the answers into a spreadsheet helps me keep a record of attendance and responses that is easily searchable. The drawbacks are that it takes a lot of attention to detail to get the forms error free. There are a lot of things that can go wrong when using Google Forms and I feel like I have experienced many of them over the years. Google Forms is also not compatible with Blackboard, our default LMS. So that means I have to enter grades manually. Nevertheless, it has served me well overall.
Congratulations to Maurice on this wonderful acknowledgement. I love you “academic scandal” activity.