Friday, April 23, 2010

ACRL Information-Literacy Competency Standards

Academic librarians love to talk about instruction and reference. We like talking about students as well. Today we had ten librarians attend our monthly instruction meeting, which is about two-thirds of the total number of librarians who give instruction in our library. For the bulk of the meeting we talked about information-literacy skills. After a quick review of the information-literacy competencies, we ranked them, giving a rank of one (1) to the competency we felt students have mastered best and a seven (7) to the one for which they may have the least ability. Granted, this was just a survey on the perceptions of our librarians, but it sure generated some good discussion.

ACRL’s Information Literacy Standards
  1. Determine the extent of information needed

  2. Access the needed information effectively and efficiently

  3. Evaluate information & its sources critically

  4. Incorporate selected information into one’s own knowledge base

  5. Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose

  6. Understand the economic, social, & legal issues surrounding the use of information

  7. Access and use information ethically & legally

We had junior and senior undergraduates in mind for this survey. The rankings seemed to be all over the place without too much consensus. The only two standards that a majority seemed to agree upon were the last two. Eight of the nine ranked Standard #6 a six (6) or a seven (7). We tallied the rankings, so the rank each received added up for points toward that standard. Like golf, the lowest point total wins as the standard our librarians considered that students had mastered the best. Here are some of the results:
  1. Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose = 24 points (ACRL Standard 5)

  2. Determine the extent of information needed = 26 points (ACRL Standard 1)

  3. Access the needed information effectively and efficiently = 27 points (ACRL Standard 2)

  4. Incorporate selected information into one’s own knowledge base = 31 points (ACRL Standard 4)

  5. Evaluate information & its sources critically = 39 points (ACRL Standard 3)

  6. Access and use information ethically & legally = 47 points (ACRL Standard 7)

  7. Understand the economic, social, & legal issues surrounding the use of information = 52 (ACRL Standard 6)

Of course, at least one librarian filled the "maverick" or "outlier" role by ranking Standard 6 number one (1). This same librarian may have been the one who ranked Standard 7 dead last with a seven (7). This "maverick" librarian may have been the one who was grading student papers last night, or perhaps she was grading bibliographies, which certainly indicates that librarians' perceptions may certainly differ from instructors' perceptions, who assess student work and work with students through the whole process.

Following this ranking exercise, the handout asked us to identify which standard or competency that students believe they have mastered more than the others. A unanimous vote for Standard number two (2). Librarians perceive that students think they are excellent searchers. A Google mindset means that they think they can find anything and everything when provided a search box or a browser at least.

When asked which standard we as librarians feel we address the best in our instruction sessions, we responded with Standard 2. We mainly focus on accessing the information, including demonstrating the mechanics of our catalog and databases. With only 50 minutes we must show them where to go in order to find the articles or books for their research project.

Idaho State University librarians (at least the two-thirds in attendance today), maintained that focusing on accessing information efficiently and effectively, as well as evaluating information and its sources critically (Standards 2 & 3), should continue to be emphasized during library instruction sessions.

View the PowerPoint presentation (ACRL Info Lit Standards) from the instruction meeting, which includes the results of the voting. My Slideshare account provides access to other presentations as well.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Facilities as Recruiting Points

A week or two ago I learned about a study that discovered the importance of facilities in recruiting prospective college students to campus. I needed that information again today, so I thought I'd share it with other in case they had not heard about it already:

The Impact of Facilities on Recruitment and Retention of Students
by David Cain, Ph.D. & Gary L. Reynolds, P.E.

Yesterday I attended a workshop on creating an emergency survival kit for the workplace, and the presenter happened to be one of our campus recruiters for the College of Technology. In fact one of his other recruiting colleagues also attended. As the Coordinator of Instruction I am also involved with outreach and coordinate tours and instruction for students in local high schools. Anyway, I thought to share one of our promotional brochures on the Library with him and all the other campus recruiters, reminding them not to forget about the Library in their conversations with prospective college students. Additionally, I invited them to work with me to schedule tours of the Library. Student opinions of the Library can influence their enrollment decisions as suggested in the above-mentioned article.

It interests me that attending a workshop introduced me to new people who gave me some new information and ideas on how I can help recruit college students, plus some tips on emergency kit items.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

English 101 Class

So I have been teaching students in the library one-shot sessions for close to three years now, but I still get nervous. Preparation for this class began two or three weeks ago, but I still felt like I was scrambling to get ready. Last week I sent a tentative outline with some tentative worksheets to the instructor. He asked if this would include/allow for a "quick tour." Then I looked at his request a bit more closely and saw that he did ask for an introduction to the Library's resources, so a tour made sense, though I wonder if librarians know how to give a "quick tour." We love libraries, so where do we stop?

As with other classes, I asked for a list of student topics. Instead, the instructor gave me access to his Moodle course, which allowed me to go see students' posts within a class forum. This proved to be very useful. With the topics I chose one that allowed me to find a resource on three of our four floors (apparently there are not many books on human genetic engineering in our Special Collection = basement). With call numbers in hand, we went straight to the spot on the shelves where the resources could be found. This emphasized that items with call numbers can be found on all floors of the Library, so researchers to pay attention to the "Library Location" within the catalog.

Once we found and discussed the book a bit, I had students read previously printed questions, which just happened to be color coded. Students with a blue question read it aloud on the 3rd floor before I answered it. It did tax my memory to remember which floor went with which color; perhaps I should have written it out on my outline, which I did take with me. This livened up the tour a bit, and it even solicited a few extemporaneous questions. Many refer to this as the Cephalonian Method.

Admittedly, the tour was not so quick as I wished it would have been, but the instructor commented that he had never had one of classes take a tour, but he was glad we did it today. He thought that the questions would be used after my spiel, sort of as a review exercise, but he said that this actually worked better having students ask questions. It seems that students become owners of their questions, they get to hear someone else's voice, and they tend to pay a bit more attention.

Ideally, it works even better if you can insert a couple humorous questions, anecdotes, or bits of information on the tour. If you have any examples, please share. My tour spiel could use some improvement. I did not tell them everything I know about the Library, which is always tempting, but students do not remember it all anyway. It's good to emphasize to them to come ask us for help in case they do forget stuff.

During the class we also talked about the research process and looked up materials in our Library catalog, so this seemed to be a good course to follow for an English 101 class. The active-learning, Cephalonian exercise contributed to make the class a bit better.