Featured Teaching Librarian: Tania Alekson

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. Nominate yourself or someone great!

Name: Tania AleksonTA

Institution: Capilano University in North Vancouver, British Columbia

Job Title: Student Experience Librarian

Number of Years Teaching: 11

What is your favorite movie based on a book? The Maltese Falcon and Trainspotting

Where do you do your best thinking? At a bar, as long as it’s got character.

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

Draw a map of information – it gets them thinking about a range of options and ladders into a discussion of the various categories and authority of sources.

It’s an ice-breaker activity which gets them thinking consciously about information and its sources and gets them working together as a small group. When they sit down at the table to start the session, there’s a large piece of paper and markers. Once we begin the class, I ask them to draw a “map of information” and let them decide what that means. Most often they draw a concept map, listing various types of resources and also search environments. They usually don’t distinguish between the two at this point.

We follow up the activity by categorizing the kinds of information they’ve listed – again, leaving the groupings open to interpretation by the group.

I also ask them at this point to identify which items on their map represent actual information and which are places they can seek out information/resources.

When we come back to the whole class, they can share the various resources they’ve come up with and the search environments where they can be found. This ice-breaker can segue into a discussion or activity about academic authority and/or scope when deciding which resources they want to include in an assignment.

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

I’ve been using Poll Everywhere a lot this term – I love it for pre-assessment confidence checks (On a scale of 1-5…), choosing learning outcomes for the class (Of these skills, which do you need to learn more about?) and emotional check-ins (In one word, how does “research” make you feel?). I’ve also used it to brainstorm keywords.

What’s your teaching philosophy? Active students learn.

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