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: Stephanie Evers
Institution: University of Northern Colorado
Job Title: Teaching & Outreach Librarian
Number of years teaching: 10
What are you reading right now?
Rivers of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile by Candice Millard. I always enjoy a harrowing exploration tale!
Where do you do your best thinking?
Unfortunately in the middle of the night when I’m trying to sleep. That’s when I’ll come up with solutions to problems, or new insights. Just wish my mind could find another time to be so helpful!
Describe a favorite activity that you use with students (this could be for a face-to-face class, online, or hybrid class).
For one-shot instruction sessions, I like to try and take a personal situation from my own life to help frame an example research topic which the class uses for an activity on source evaluation. For example, for a class of Education majors, I talked about how my son has the block schedule at his high school and how I have all these complaints about it but have never sat down to research the impacts of block scheduling on student achievement – so that became our research topic. Then students evaluated 3 sources around this topic, and we had a good discussion about the sources, and the topic itself. I find that making this personal connection with the students helps them engage with me and the class content, particularly in the one-shot environment where they don’t know you and there isn’t time to develop relationships.
Tell us how you assess your classes (e.g. mud cards, clickers, reflections).
One assessment tool that we take advantage of at our institution is online forms. We use these extensively in one-shot instruction as going through the form questions helps guide students through the session and then we have all that data to use for assessment purposes. Often in these sessions students are finding sources on their own research topics, and so when we look at their responses to the online form questions, we have their stated research topics and the title/author information of the sources they found. This allows us to see if students are finding peer-reviewed, relevant sources. Having this knowledge has helped us show the value of our instruction program, and of course led to changes in our curriculum. We’ve used both Qualtrics and LibWizard for these forms, and briefly used Google Forms as well, so there are several options out there for creating these forms and collecting the data.
Name two things you would share with a librarian who is new to teaching.
I would tell new instructors to try and not change who they are as a teacher too much. In the beginning I really thought I needed to put on more of a performance, but that is just not who I am. So, I’ve learned to embrace that and find other ways of engaging students, and hopefully not bore them while still being myself. My other piece of advice is to give it time. In that first year or two, you will have sessions that just don’t go so great, and you need to give yourself some grace. As with most things, the more you do it, the more comfortable you will feel until eventually you realize being up in front of the class is second nature