Featured Teaching Librarian: Patricia Hartman

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.

portrait of Patricia Hartman

Name: Patricia Hartman

Institution: Auburn University

Job Title: Biology, Forestry & Wildlife and Math Librarian

Number of years teaching: 9

What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time?

In the last six months or so, I started making soap. It’s totally addictive and makes your house smell amazing!

What is your favorite movie based on a book?

This might be a controversial answer, but I’m going to go with Spike Jonez’s Adaptation, which was technically based on Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief. I loved both, but those looking for a faithful retelling of the book were sorely disappointed.  

Describe a favorite activity that you use with students (this could be for a face-to-face class, online, or hybrid class).

I primarily teach small classes for upper division students. My favorite activity is in a small rural sociology class I team-teach with our Agriculture Librarian. We introduce students to the American Community Survey and the Census of Agriculture, published by the US Census Bureau and USDA, respectively. The first part of the class is a straightforward explanation of what the resources are and how to use them. However, once students learn to view the data and export it into spreadsheets, we, along with the instructor, spend the majority of the class visiting students and asking questions as they explore it. The data speaks for itself in exposing the inequities built into our food system and for some students, it can be life-changing. 

Tell us about your favorite teaching tools (e.g. cool apps, clickers, etc.).

For larger classes, I really like to use Slido. Our department recently purchased a license, and I find it a bit more intuitive (for instructors and students) than some of the other polling/participation software I’ve used. The short answer responses serve as a great jumping off point for class discussion, the quizzes allow for instant summative assessment, and I’m always a sucker for word clouds. It is seamlessly integrated into PowerPoint.

When professors are amenable to pre-class homework, I also like to use LibWizard to get a sense of what students know ahead of time so I can adjust class content accordingly.

Are you involved as an embedded librarian? Tell us about your experience.

Yes, I have been involved in natural resources, wildlife science, biology, and rural sociology courses as an embedded librarian. Each experience is different, but all make me think more deeply about what students really need to know and how best to convey it. They also all involve working with small groups on class projects, so I get to know students more intimately. In one course, I collaborated with the professor to develop an “information literacy rubric” that was applied to their final papers. I scored the papers, and in reading them, I learned a lot about unintentional plagiarism, the kinds of sources students use, and how they use them to support their arguments. In another course, I communicated with student groups both before and after in-person research “brainstorming” sessions tailored to their specific topic. Prior to the session, students sent me descriptions of their project, along with the information they hoped to find in our meeting. Afterward, they were assigned to reflect on what they found, how they would use that information, and what they still needed to know. In every case, being embedded is time-consuming and labor-intensive but makes me a better instructor, not only in that context, but in one-shots as well!

Name two things you would share with a librarian who is new to teaching.

1) Don’t be afraid to try new things! You will be much more critical of yourself than the students will.

2) Listen to and incorporate peer feedback into your teaching practice, but do it in a way that feels authentic to you and your voice.

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