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.
Reference, Instruction and Assessment Librarian
Number of Years Teaching:
Why did you become a librarian?
I started out as a Professor of Spanish Literature. I taught primarily medieval and renaissance literature and I found the aspect of teaching that I liked the most was helping students to develop their research skills (as explorers of manuscripts and as creators of electronic resources to make research more broadly available). Eventually, I realized I would be happiest if I dedicated myself to helping students succeed in their research, so I went back to college and got a library degree. I’ve been an instructional librarian ever since.
What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time?
In my free time I have very eclectic tastes. I love doing any sort of art, but especially acrylic painting, mixed-media and photography. Not to say I’m good at it. I just like it! I also love doing anything in nature, like hiking, birdwatching and camping with my dogs. And I belong to a fiction writing group. We’re like the Inklings, though we haven’t given ourselves a name (and none of us are likely to ever be as famous as Tolkien or Lewis). We write, share, and discuss fantasy stories amongst ourselves.
Describe a favorite activity that you use with students (this could be for a face-to-face class, online, or hybrid class).
My favorite activities revolve around teaching students to evaluate scholarly sources. Even once students understand how to find and when to use scholarly sources, they struggle to do so. Beginning students have little experience reading, evaluating the usefulness of, and synthesizing scholarly sources. My favorite activity to help with that is the “Literature Review Update.” For this activity, the course instructor and I locate a relevant, but older, literature review and assign the students to read it before the instruction session. They must choose one argument in the literature review that interests them and highlight it in yellow. Then they highlight the references/evidence the author used to support the argument in another color. Finally, they highlight the author’s analysis of the references/evidence in a third color. (This can be a good in-class exercise on its own. It can also be a good analysis to have students do on their own rough draft). During the instruction session, I help the students locate two newer citations to “update” the literature review. The newer sources must do two of the following: support the original argument, support the original argument but add a new point of view in some manner, or oppose the original argument. By the end of class, the students must rewrite the paragraph of the literature review that they highlighted to include a synthesis of the new references/evidence. This activity definitely takes an entire class, but students tell me it really helps them understand what sorts of evidence to use in their papers and how to incorporate it.
Tell us how you assess your classes (e.g. mud cards, clickers, reflections).
Instruction assessment is formally one of my responsibilities in my current job and I have always enjoyed developing authentic assessment methods. At my college, the library has defined Information Literacy student learning outcomes and we are interested in assessing students’ progress towards meeting those outcomes. When planning classes, we keep in mind what SLO the instruction supports and we design an activity the students must complete to demonstrate their learning. For example, students might need to answer journalistic questions to narrow their topic, or find and properly cite two scholarly articles, or answer questions to evaluate a source, or write a paragraph to incorporate sources, etc. We can either spot check the students’ success completing the activity as we help them, collect the worksheet and evaluate it or, if the professor is willing, have the students upload the worksheet to Moodle so we can see it there. We have rubrics for each SLO that we use to rate the students’ work. We are just beginning a trial of this type of in-class assessment, but it has worked well in the classes where we’ve used it so far.
Describe your experience with instructional technologies (e.g. Kaltura, Captivate, Articulate Storyline, CMS).
Because I feel that digital literacy is crucial, I regularly incorporate instructional technology into my classes. One of my favorite tools is Padlet, which allows students to enter “notes” on a virtual board. It can be used on a phone without downloading an app and accessed easily via QR code. I use it at the beginning of class to get students thinking on a topic and throughout class to solicit thoughts. Students like it because it can be anonymous, and it gives them time to think before answering, so it works for different learning preferences. I like it because I can keep the boards the students create as learning artifacts. I also love Concept Mapping tools like Coggle. I like this tool for helping students brainstorm to narrow down their topics. Again, it’s great because the students can keep and easily edit/share their results. I also often use student response software, like Socrative, for quick assessment of key terminology and concepts. Finally, I think it is valuable to produce instructional videos that students can watch for extra help. Camtasia is my tool-of-choice for that, but I also find Adobe Spark Video, a free Adobe product, to be very useful and easy to use for this purpose.