Featured Teaching Librarian: Maurice Hines

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.

Maurice Hines
Maurice Hines

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.

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Orientation to the ACRL Instruction Section on 1/31/22

Are you a new member of the Instruction Section or are you interested in becoming more involved with an IS committee? Please join us for an online Orientation to the ACRL Instruction Section (IS). This will be an opportunity to learn more about the activities and resources of the Instruction Section, the benefits of involvement, and how you can get started with IS. We hope to see you there!

Monday, January 31, 2022,  1:00pm CST

Registration: https://ala-events.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIoduiprj0oGtwdF-xWU4rEkYM9omW1MOFz

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October 2021 Site of the Month

The Peer-Reviewed Instructional Materials Online (PRIMO) Committee of the Instruction Section of ACRL is pleased to announce that a new Site of the Month interview has been posted to our committee website.

October 2021 Site of the Month: Advanced Search Techniques Tutorial, Beginner: Keywords Tutorial
Creator: Renae Watson
Institution: Colorado State University

Project Descriptions:
Advanced: Search Techniques Tutorial
This is a highly interactive tutorial covering the Boolean operator NOT, truncation, phrase searching, and nesting for database searches. The tutorial includes a certificate of completion once the user completes all four modules. The tutorial was created using Articulate Storyline 360 as part of an internal grant and was made to meet accessibility standards.

Beginner: Keywords Tutorial
This is a highly interactive tutorial covering the basics of generating and selecting keywords. The tutorial includes a summary quiz with a certificate of completion. The tutorial was created using Articulate Storyline 360 as part of an internal grant and was made to meet accessibility standards.

Interview with Renae Watson: Creator Renae Watson has recently been interviewed in March 2021, for the tutorial Beginner: Search Techniques Tutorial. Read the March 2021 interview for more information on Renae’s creation process!

Archive of previous Site of the Month interviews

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Call for Nominations: ACRL Instruction Section Featured Teaching Librarian

Do you know someone who is an amazing teaching librarian? 

If yes, consider nominating them as a Featured Teaching Librarian!  
If you’re an amazing teaching librarian, consider nominating yourself.  

The ACRL Instruction Section Teaching Methods Committee wants to highlight excellent teaching librarians.  Several times during the year, the committee selects and interviews a librarian who demonstrates a passion for teaching, innovation, and student learning.  This feature provides a way to showcase amazing teaching librarians on the ACRL Instruction Section website and share their best teaching practices with others in the field. 

Consider nominating yourself or someone you think is amazing! 
Nominations are due by Friday, October 1st, 2021.

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2020 Teaching Methods Virtual Event Recording

On May 1, 2020, the ACRL Instruction Section Teaching Methods Committee presented the virtual event, “Let’s Get Visual, Visual!: New Instructional Approaches for Visual Literacy,” with speakers, Maggie Murphy, Sara Schumacher, and Dana Statton Thompson. The recording of the event may be viewed here.

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2019 Teaching Methods Virtual Event Recording

On May 30, 2019, the ACRL Instruction Section Teaching Methods Committee presented the virtual event, “Describing Realities, Imagining Directions: Critical Race Pedagogies,” with speakers, Jennifer Brown and Jorge López-McKnight. The recording of the event may be viewed here.

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Best Practices for Hosting Virtual Events

The ACRL Instruction Section Virtual Engagement Committee has completed the first version of the document Best Practices for Hosting Virtual Events. It reviews the logistics of how ACRL IS committees organize various events including panel discussions, webinars, small group discussions, and Twitter chats! There is also a section on accessibility considerations as well as sample templates for calls for proposals and advertisements. The 2019-2020 committee started this document and the 2020-2021 committee completed it. We thank them for all their hard work! Questions and suggestions can be shared with the current Committee Chair. You can always access the document at https://bit.ly/ACRLISVECbest

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New Selected Resources

The ACRL Instruction Section Teaching Methods Committee has added new committee-recommended sources to their Selected Resources for Teaching Methods and Instructional Design in Library Instruction and their Selected Resources for Assessment in Library Instruction Lists. The committee will be updating these lists with new resources and annotations annually.

You can see the committee’s entire lists, including materials the committee curated as part of the “First-Year Experience and Academic Libraries: A Select Annotated Bibliography.” and the “Teaching and Learning Information Literacy Skills Textbooks” in Zotero.

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Call for nominations for the ACRL Instruction Section Executive Committee 2022

The ACRL Instruction Section is seeking nominations for officers to serve on its Executive Committee. These elected offices include Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect, Secretary/Archivist, and three Members-at-Large. You can view the responsibilities of these officers here.

Please consider nominating a colleague or yourself. Potential candidates should have an interest in contributing to leadership of the Instruction Section’s activities, which can be found on the IS website. The leadership work of the Executive Committee involves collaborative decision-making, information-sharing, liaising to IS committees, and visioning the future of the Section.

Previous committee or leadership experience in the Section has been one path for individuals to prepare for roles on the Executive Committee, but we welcome nominations of candidates who have shown leadership potential at their institutions, in other professional organizations, or through other collaborations.  

Election to an office does not require conference attendance. Nominees must be members of ACRL and the Instruction Section at the time that they consent to be on the ballot in September 2021. The election will take place in March 2022. 

The deadline for nominations is Sunday, August 8, 2021. You can submit nominations through this online form or by emailing Meghan Sitar at msitar@umich.edu. Please also feel free to email me with any questions you have about making a nomination.

Note: If you previously submitted a nomination for 2022 through the past webform, please resubmit that information as the form was not working correctly and any submissions were lost. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Meghan Sitar, ACRL Instruction Section 2022 Nominating Committee Chair

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ILBP Exemplary Programs Interview with Silvia Lin Hanick and Ian McDermott at LaGuardia Community College

Interview completed by Michael Courtney, Outreach & Engagement Librarian, Indiana University Bloomington; Brianna Buljung, Teaching & Learning Librarian, Colorado School of Mines; Shane Roopnarine, Assistant Librarian, University of Central Florida Libraries; and Maya Hobscheid, Instructional Design Librarian, Grand Valley State University.

The ILBP Committee recognizes programs that embody best practices from the Characteristics of Programs of Information Literacy that Illustrate Best Practices: A Guideline. We recently interviewed Silvia Lin Hanick, First Year Experience Librarian, and Ian McDermott, Coordinator of Library Instruction, at LaGuardia Community College, whose program exemplifies Program Sequencing and Pedagogy.

Share some historical background on your program. How has it developed over time?

At LaGuardia Community College (CUNY), we teach 1-credit and 3-credit research strategies courses and between 680-790 one-shot library sessions in an academic year. Every part-time and full-time faculty librarian teaches, regardless of their primary assignment. ​The total number of instruction sessions has been rising overall in spite of declining enrollment at the College. English (ENG 101, 103) and First Year Seminar (FYS) instruction classes made up at least 75% of all classes in a semester. The remaining classes fall across the disciplines, including sessions for Introduction to Paralegal Studies, The Woman Writer, Organic Chemistry, or the Hospitality Club.

As a part of our effort to incorporate more conceptual learning in our information literacy instruction, we started conversations with the English Department about how best to deemphasize database demonstrations in their Library sessions. One small, but interesting change that resulted was an edit to the survey that we send out prior to the Library session. We ask instructors to select the aspect of information literacy that is most relevant to their current coursework:

  • Choosing Information
  • Analyzing Information
  • Incorporating Information

While sessions still typically conclude with an overview of, and exploration in a subscription database, the session is framed around a big picture concept that guides the class in a productive way.

Our FYS Library sessions have a more complicated history. In Fall 2014, a required Library session was introduced for FYS for the Health Sciences and Liberal Arts majors. By March 2020, there were fifteen different FYS courses. Each FYS course required a different disciplinary approach. The Library did not have a coordinated approach to this area of instruction until Fall 2017, when we created lesson plans that were aligned to the ACRL

Framework and LaGuardia’s General Education Core Competencies and Communication Abilities.

How is information literacy integrated throughout your institution’s curriculum?

LaGuardia Community College has identified three overarching Core Competencies to structure its general education framework:

  • Inquiry and Problem Solving
  • Global Learning
  • Integrative Learning

Students demonstrate Core Competencies using one of three Communication Abilities:

  • Written Communication
  • Oral Communication
  • Digital Communication

The Core Competencies and Communication Abilities are assessed, annually, via benchmark readings and ​rubrics​ adapted from the AAC&U’s VALUE rubrics.

As a part of our programmatic assessment, we went through the rubrics and connected dimensions of each rubric with the relevant information literacy topics. The rubrics may not use the phrase “information literacy,” but it is clear that our teaching content supports the competencies and communication abilities. For example, the Inquiry and Problem Solving rubric includes dimensions like:

  • Framing the issue to address a research question
  • Evidence gathering by assembling, reviewing, and synthesizing evidence from diverse sources of relevant knowledge
  • Analysis using evidence to address questions, test hypotheses, and evaluate claims and solutions

We connected those dimensions information literacy topics like:

  • How to turn a topic into a research question
  • How to expand or narrow a search using keywords, connectors, and filtering options
  • How to locate additional sources using a list of references from an article
  • How to locate appropriate sources in support of, or to challenge a thesis

This exercise allowed us to make explicit connections between our instruction content and the General Education curriculum.

How do you use the ACRL Framework to leverage the importance of information literacy in student learning?

In AY 2016-2017 the Library Department received a grant from the College to connect our FYS instruction with the ACRL Framework and the Core Competencies and Abilities. At LaGuardia, a one-hour Library class is built into every FYS. While this additional hour of Library instruction was a welcome opportunity to reinforce the information literacy lessons introduced in required sessions for English classes, it also introduced a content challenge. Each FYS was designed to introduce students to their chosen discipline; fifteen different FYS meant fifteen different disciplinary priorities. Even within the same FYS, content might vary—while one professor used Malcolm Gladwell’s ​Blink​ as a textbook, another used the principle of mindfulness to anchor hers. The Library Department, then, had to answer an important question: How can we teach meaningful library instruction sessions for each FYS course?

The ACRL Framework gave us a starting point for this conversation. It gave us the vocabulary and structure to be specific and ambitious about our teaching content. Working together, librarians mapped each FYS course to a frame. Business FYS students, for instance, were introduced to the “Information Has Value” concept via conversations about the role of high-cost information in gaining or protecting market advantage. Then, we worked together to write lesson plans for each FYS based on the assigned frame.

What excites you most about the future of your program?

It will be exciting to build upon the work we’ve done over the last few years. As the FYS program at LaGuardia has expanded to include new courses, from computer science to fine arts, the Library has provided course-integrated instruction. It is always exciting to work with Library faculty colleagues to develop new lesson plans–we are all engaged with and invested in library instruction. We love working with faculty in other academic departments, who are more often than not eager to work with us.

Teaching online during a global pandemic is challenging but we are motivated to support students. It has been exciting to create and share teaching materials that address our current situation; the Library has been closed since mid-March 2020. This situation has exposed our need for concise modules focused on skills (e.g. developing keywords) and basic information (how to chat online with a librarian). Other materials require updates due to access. Some vendors expanded access early in the pandemic, increased access to online textbooks was especially useful, but that’s no longer the case. On the other hand, we can now tell students they can pick up books from select public libraries across the five boroughs. These modules also need to work in synchronous and asynchronous situations! We teach many sessions in addition to the required ones for FYS, ENG 101, and ENG103. Similar to our work with the English Department described above, these courses have heterogeneous needs.

Even so, it’s fair to say that our efforts are almost always focused and coordinated. Programmatically, we think about how instructional materials fit into the big picture of our information literacy instruction. We also take these opportunities to create instructional materials that reflect Laguardia students’ lived experience, or that incorporate the work of BIPOC authors, artists, and thinkers.

What about your program’s development has most surprised you?

We were ill-equipped for online teaching. From teaching materials (slides, handouts, videos) to experience with instructional technology (Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate, the two primary programs used at LaGuardia), we were underprepared for the transition to remote learning. This new reality forced us to change the way we teach, and to teach each other. Our program was designed for in-person instruction, with students sitting in front of computers.

For example, it was surprising how quickly we reverted to demo-based instruction. We may have been concerned that students would only have one library session to access the skill-based instruction they may encounter more frequently via in-person Reference, or we may have opted for what felt easier for everyone, us included. These changes were also driven by the preexisting inequities and injustices foregrounded by the pandemic. Do students learning at home have access to a computer or are they using a phone? Do they have a quiet place to do their school work? Are they forced to attend school while they are at work? A database demonstration had to, suddenly, account for many more variables.

We need time, without a pandemic raging through New York City, to develop meaningful, effective information literacy instruction. Still, as we have moved away from the worst moments of the pandemic, it is surprising to feel confident about where we need to improve, and where we need to focus our efforts. We are finding ways to re-incorporate creative, active learning into synchronous or asynchronous online instruction; this is an opportunity to think about how online instruction fits into the broader instruction program when we get on campus. This year forced us to learn together, more than usual, and to confront our own gaps in knowledge. It has been impactful and left us feeling somewhat hopeful.

What advice can you provide for other programs that are looking to develop in those areas?

We have been working with the ACRL Framework since Spring 2016; the lesson plans written then have been revised, and revised again. As the Framework reminds us, Information Creation is an (iterative) process! Committing to, and prioritizing continuous revision of our teaching has been crucial.

At LaGuardia, full-time Library faculty meet twice each year to discuss and update our instruction content. Recently, we’ve decided to introduce a standing Instruction agenda item for our Department meeting; we’ll take turns sharing new activities, tools, or stories about our teaching. Our progress in this area is a reflection of departmental collaboration and consensus about what we teach when we teach information literacy. The Framework does not have to be everything for everyone; it does not have to replace or usurp the parts of your instruction program that already work. It can, however, offer a path into building a supportive practitioner community.

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