Daily Archives: June 11, 2007

Sudden Thoughts And Second Thoughts

I Finally Jump On The Bandwagon

After resisting for a while – well waiting for a good reason is more like it – I finally got on the Facebook bandwagon (for librarians at least – everyone else and their mother (see this) is already there). I friended a few librarians and got freinded by a few others. I joined a group. I’m not planning on too many friends and even less groups. I just don’t have time to follow all the messages that activity generates. I did create a group at Temple University. I want to see if I can encourage our students to take pictures of the library and then add comments on what they’d like to see us do with the spaces. This is for a building renovation project, and it could be a good way to get our students involved and get their feedback. I don’t see myself going in the direction of a library group and trying to push our wares in Facebook, but rather hope to use it strategically for unique projects – like the group I just described. I also got interested in the applications and experimented with the LibGuides Application. Apparently LibGuides got mentioned in a few places last Friday and they’ve been deluged with demo requests. I’ve been working with it about two months now and think it has pretty good potential. Springshare is a company that definitely gets it. Anyway I mentioned this to my class last week. Class ended at 9 pm – when I checked email at 11 pm one of my students had already friended me.

There’s No Place Like The Academic Library For Serendipitous Discoveries

As part of a space planning discussion the senior management team at MPOW did a walking tour of our libraries upper levels – you know – the stacks. Browsing the stacks is a serious occupational hazard for me. I’ll get to looking at books and things and before I know it an hour has gone by – so I try to be careful about that. But something caught my eye that day. I came upon an odd single volume of Look magazine, from 1969. So I start leafing through the pages and hit on this awesome article about Johnny Winter that’s all about this new guitar sensation and his first album. That was a great – and totally serendipitous find. Only at your library.

Quiz Them Often For Better Learning

Anyone who has ever taught library instruction sessions has likely wondered if the students retain anything covered about research, databases, etc. We’d certainly all like to have techniques for helping students to not only retain what we share in user education programs, but to get that information into long-term memory – in other words – to really learn it. The interesting article in the June 8, 2007 isse of the Chronicle titled “You Will Be Tested On This” suggests that students learn more effectively when they are quizzed early and often (pg. A14). I think giving a quiz at the end of an instruction session is pretty rare. It may be more common in the library 101 type course where the logistics for quizzes are manageable. Based on the research presented librarians might be able to make a case to faculty to allow time in class for information literacy quizzes at the end of instruction sessions. But just one might not do the job. I hope someone picks up on this and does some research that could tell us more.

More Libraries (yawn) Join Google Books

Is it news anymore when a library or a group of libraries joins the Google Book Search Library Project? I think we get it now. Google is partnering with libraries and then scanning their books – to what end no one really seems to know. But we do know libraries like to join the project. So must all the library and higher education news outlets report every time a new library or group of libraries joins? I could live without it. Will it be news when Podunk Community College joins the Google Book Project in 2011? Maybe they should just start writing stories about which libraries haven’t joined the Google Book Project yet.

Give Them The Spirit Of Learning

Well, that’s what Woodrow Wilson said about 100 years ago. The actual quote used by Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman in her commencement address on June 5 was “What we should seek to impart in our colleges … is not so much learning itself as the spirit of learning. … It consists in the power to distinguish good reasoning from bad, in the power to digest and interpret evidence”. Sounds a bit like he was promoting information literacy programs. Tilghman’s address takes on the issue of assessment in higher education, and she urges us to be wary of federal government efforts to impose performance standards or testing for college students. For more on what’s being said by commencement speakers in 2007 check here.

Celebrating Research and Creativity on Campus

How can something so energizing leave me so exhausted?

We just wrapped up a week-long workshop on The Student as Scholar for a group of Gustavus faculty. (I’ve been co-coordinator of faculty development programs at Gustavus for the past two years, though I have to credit my colleague Laura Behling with most of the heavy lifting on this workshop. Literally. Every morning I’d get to the site of the workshop and she’d moved all the furniture after coming up with some brilliant group activity.) Almost all departments were represented and the interdisciplinary conversations were amazing. It left me feeling a little dazed by the creativity and dedication of our faculty – and encouraged by the realization that stuff I care about isn’t just a weird library obsession, it’s valued by faculty across the entire curriculum and is woven into courses and labs, mentoring and modeling everywhere.

This workshop theme was inspired by a campus planning process out of which emerged a focus that bridged academic affairs, student affairs, and all other units of the campus: student engagement. It’s nothing original; there’s plenty of research that indicates practices that engage students in their own learning lead to better learning. At my campus many of the right ingredients have been in place for years. But just having them in place doesn’t always mean students will take advantage of them. According to Ernie Pascarella and Patrick Terenzini the real difference is in what students do.

Other things being equal, the more students are psychologically engaged in activities such as use of the library, reading unassigned books, individual study, writing papers, and course assignments, the greater their knowledge acquisition and general intellectual growth. If the literature of the 1990s says anything, it is that, although colleges can fashion an undergraduate academic experience characterized by a plethora of learning opportunities, it is the extent to which students become engaged in and fully exploit these opportunities that largely determines the personal benefits they derive. (How College Affects Students: A Third Decade of Research, 2005, p. 613)

During this workshop we looked at developing programmatic support for student research with Jill Singer of Buffalo State University (and past president of the Council on Undergraduate Research) and then delved into activities that are part of courses (such as senior theses and labs) and those that are outside of the context of courses (summer research with faculty, performances, internships, and the like). Each day a group of faculty had lunch with our new VP for College Relations and our media relations guy so they could hear the cool stuff faculty are doing. On the final day we talked to administrators and the director of web communications. As we looked at his new template for department pages we held an impromptu vote to feature more student and faculty research on our website. It was unanimous.

One thing I came out of this with (and hope others did) was a better understanding of what student scholarly and creative activity means in different disciplines and a deep respect for and excitement about what’s going on across campus. Today – having had a weekend to recover – a group of us is getting together to start planning an annual celebration of creative inquiry on our campus. We want to make sure everyone gets to see the exciting work our students are doing with the guidance and encouragement of faculty.