Saturday, May 30, 2015

IDE Final Post

Teaching Scenario

My teaching scenario is a one-shot, 75-minute instruction session for a sophomore level course called Introduction to Political Inquiry. The course is a pre-requisite for all upper division Political Science courses, and it is also a requirement for students pursuing an International Relations major or concentration.

Many of the students have received library instruction in a freshman-level College Writing course, but for some it may be their first time in the library in an instructional setting. The course is offered almost every semester, and enrollment is anywhere between 12 and 24 students. The class size is small enough to be accommodated in our library computer lab, so each student will have a computer in front of them.  The students are working on a research project (topic of their choosing with a Political Science focus), and their final assignment is a literature review.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of the in-class group activity,  students will be able to identify different information types commonly used in Political Science research. Students will also be able to analyze and select the resources most appropriate for their chosen topic.


In groups, students will analyze a given information type to see the role it plays in researching a sample topic provided by the librarian. Groups will work with worksheets or Google Docs to answer questions about their assigned resource, and the group work will be collected by the librarian for assessment.

Further, after exchanging information with other groups, students could be given a quick forward-looking assessment where they are given a "real world scenario" that relates to Political Science. Then, they'll be shown a list of five possible resources and asked to select those which are most relevant to the scenario.  Students will be evaluated on their selection of resources and the completeness of their rationale for selecting them.  More on the potential criteria and standards for this assessment can be found in this post.

Learning Theories

By leaving the group activity as open-ended as possible, I hope to incorporate constructivism into the single class period I have with these students. I want students to feel in charge of their learning, and while the worksheets will be a guide, they will also leave room for the students to form their own ideas about the relative merits of the information type they are exploring. Constructivism also informs my approach to groups sharing their work: Each group will "teach" others in the class about their information type so that they can create meaning/understanding through the act of teaching others.

Teaching Tools

In order to facilitate a longer, more robust in-class activity, I hope to move some of the "overview of the library and its website" content that I would typically include in a Intro to Political Inquiry session to a YouTube video created with Camtasia. My goal is to make this available in their Course Management System prior to the library session.

Another teaching tool I hope to incorporate is Google Docs. If the class had access to the worksheets as Google Docs, they could collaborate easily and have something that to which they could readily refer at a later date.

Course reflection

Instructional Design Essentials has definitely helped me to more thoroughly examine my instructional scenario and my goals. Week 2 was particularly eye-opening because it forced me to see how my outcomes should match my assessments, which should match my learning activities, etc. In past library instruction planning, I've usually been intentional about one or two of those aspects, but I've probably never put all three into alignment!  Week 2 was hard work, but it was definitely worth it.

Coursemates' blogs

Reading the blogs of others was extremely helpful. It was especially useful to read blogs that covered different library settings than my own to see what similarities and differences there might be between my setting (a small-ish Master's-granting university) and people working elsewhere. Specifically, I learned a lot from reading about an academic law librarycommunity college English classes, and a library serving the students of more than one college/university.

Critical Pedagogy

One of the things that the critical pedagogy readings helped to clarify for me was the way in which library instruction can so easily become a passive experience for the learner, where she or he is simply the recipient of the librarian's knowledge. I like the idea of giving students more agency in the classroom and of seeing where there might be flaws or problems in the content we're asked to teach. The sticking point of implementing critical pedagogy can be the tension between wanting students to examine these issues more critically and the constraints placed on us (in my situation, anyway) by faculty desires to make things clear for their students and to be succinct (a single class session). Integration of information literacy in a structured or sequenced way throughout  the curriculum would make it easier to adopt a critical lens in the library instruction session, and that's where I am ultimately hoping to go with my overall library instruction.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Week #4 - Education technologies and trends from the Horizon Report

Technologies Appropriate for final project


Camtasia and YouTube

In Week 2, I mentioned that I'd like to "flip" the classroom by having the students watch short instructional videos prior to the class session to cover some of the content that I've typically included in my Intro to Political Inquiry one-shot. By watching the videos ahead of time, more of the face-to-face class time can be devoted to more hands-on activities. Currently, I have a license for TechSmith's Camtasia that I use to create instructional videos, and I upload the videos on YouTube.

Google Docs

For my face-to-face activities, I am considering having the students work together in small groups on worksheets. Afterwards, the groups will reconfigure so that students can share what they've learned with students who worked in small groups on different topics.

In the past, I've used paper worksheets, but it's possible that shared and editable documents, like Google Docs, could help students teach each other and provide them with something to refer to after the class.

Alignment with Trends from NMC Horizon Reports

I skimmed the 2014 Library Edition and highlighted the trends and challenges that seemed most relevant to my place of work. Of the items I read in depth, I'd say that 'Embedding Academic and Research Libraries in the Curriculum' was the most relevant trend.  It specifically mentions things like sequencing information literacy instruction to help support learning throughout the curriculum. I envision the efforts that I'm putting into this sophomore level course hopefully leading to a more coordinated program involving work with upper-level courses in Political Science, too. I've had a lot of positive reception to the idea of "curriculum mapping" and identifying courses where more information literacy instruction might be beneficial, but even with a small department like Political Science it's been hard to turn that into concrete, systematic change. 

Implications Choice of Technology

I think that by giving students some of the material ahead of time asynchronously via YouTube, I can improve the learning experience in the face-to-face session. If the students view a couple of videos ahead of time on the layout of the library website and an overview of the general content we'll be covering, then it will free up time for  more hands-on learning and peer interaction. Incorporating Google Docs has the potential to make it easier for them to share with peers and refer back to aspects of the library instruction at a later date.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Week #3 Learning Theories and Motivation

After watching the videos and skimming the readings, I definitely feel that constructivism and cognitivism are the most relevant theories for my instructional scenario. Behaviorism requires some control over the "antecedents" and "consequences" of the learning environment, and in the one-shot setting, it's hard to imagine ways that I can really provide rewards that would be meaningful or create long-lasting change in student's behaviors.

Constructivism for Intro to Political Inquiry

I like the constructivist idea of having the student "transfer their knowledge to new and different situations" (from the YouTube video). While I can't provide students with an in-depth hands on experience, I can hopefully make the activities within the one-shot oriented around "social interaction" and "authentic tasks," as Cooperstein and Kocevar-Weidinger describe. (2004, p. 142).

Since students in the Political Inquiry need to understand both the qualities/attributes of different information formats (books, articles, position papers, datasets, etc.) and how they might best be used in Political Science research, I'll need to develop an activity where they can both search for and assess information in different formats. Given the time constraints of a single, 75-minute session, it might work best to have students work in groups and give each group a single format/information type to focus on. The groups will become the "experts" on their assigned information type.

Possible Class Activity

Here's how I'm thinking a class activity might go: Students would be divided into small groups (3-ish students) and be handed a group activity worksheet.  The worksheet would tell them:
  • Their sample research scenario
  • What type of resource they'll be looking for
  • Where they'll be looking for that resource (i.e. the name of a database, website, the catalog, etc) 
The worksheet would direct them on how to locate the search tool, but as a group they'll have to use their research scenario to come up with search terms, etc.  After they work through those searching tasks, there would be questions on evaluating their search results, locating a selected item (e.g. full text for journal articles, call numbers for books, etc.) and other questions about identifying what exactly they've found.

After selecting an item they think best suits the information need, the students would have time in their groups to answer more reflective questions that will help them understand the value and application of their particular information type. I don't know what these questions would look like yet, but hopefully they'd get at the "knowledge practices" and "dispositions" found in the Information Creation as a Process" frame of the ACRL Framework. I'd want this activity to be open enough that there's no "right answer" students are being guided towards, but I feel like it'll need some structure in order to assure they meet the learning outcomes that I'm developing.  Because I'll be deliberately presenting some of the content in segments via the worksheets, I think cognitivism is also represented in my approach

Finally, there will need to be a time for each small group to share with the larger class about the information type that they explored. They're the "experts" on their format now, so they can demonstrate for the class the relative merits and characteristics of a book, dataset, journal article, etc. I could see this happening in two ways:
  1. I invite each group to come up and demo their searching and characteristics of their assigned information type for the rest of the class; or,
  2. The groups break up and we form new small groups that contain one "expert" on each of the resource types. Then, each student goes around the table in their new small groups and talks about their resource, how they searched, etc. 
Both of these would expose every student in the class to each of the information types, but perhaps the second option does a better job of modeling constructivism's peer-to-peer learning idea.

ARCS Model incorporation

 I think my proposed lesson plan would do a good job of giving students 'variability' and 'inquiry arousal' by providing them with a problem to solve in a group. As opposed to just working on the computers or watching me demonstrate searches, they'll be doing it themselves and talking to each other about what they're learning.

In the past, my strength has usually been 'motive matching': I always try to tell students in very specific terms how their library instruction will help with a given assignment. The more information a professor can provide ahead of time, the more detailed I can be in matching what motivates them. 'Familiarity' and the notion of building on what students already know is very important in constructivism, so I'll need to be sure to draw on what (I perceive) they bring with them to the instruction session.

Here, I think that my plan will incorporate 'success opportunities' in the form of multi-stage group work and 'personal responsibility.' I like the idea of having students learn something and then teach others, and I think they'll feel a sense of ownership over the portion of the learning they're assigned to cover.

I try to encourage students in their exploration of library resources and provide verbal reinforcement/feedback ('extrinsic rewards'). Affirming the frustrations they might have with library databases can also be a part of helping students ultimately feel successful. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Week 2 Integration Post

1. Situational Factors

I think that my outcomes and assessments fit many of my situational factors well. It's a one-shot class, and I am developing an assessment strategy and outcomes that will fit the small amount of time I have with the students. The outcomes involve lower level Bloom's terms and the assessment will be a quick check of student learning and opportunity for reflection. I think that the discipline-specific outcomes match the profile of the students in the course (mostly Political Science majors).

The biggest potential conflict I can identify is the possibility that I'm being too ambitious with my learning outcomes given the constraints of a one-shot session.

2. Learning Goals and Feedback & Assessment

My proposed assessments (found in my Educative Assessment post) mostly reflect the "Foundational Knowledge" and "Learning How to Learn" goals from my Week 1 Post. Here is a quick recap of those goals:

In the types of assignments the students are completing for Political Inquiry, it will be important for them to have a working knowledge of different resource types -- texts on political theory, case studies, data and government information, etc -- and the format that each type of information is likely to take. What types of information are most likely to be found in journal articles? What is likely to be found in books?  (Foundational Knowledge Goal)
Ideally the Political Science majors in the course will learn the basic research methods and resource types for their field of study, and this knowledge will help the students be successful in future classes. The underlying ability to understand the processes and purposes behind different information formats will serve them well in other classes and their everyday lives. (Learning How to Learn Goals)
A focus on self-reflection and self-assessment could help me achieve my Application and Integration goals, too. I would consider the two outcomes quoted above to be the goals that their professor is most concerned with, so I think it's appropriate to focus on assessing their learning on these goals (at least initially).

3. Learning Goals and Teaching/Learning Activities

My teaching and learning activities haven't fully taken shape yet. One approach I'm considering is providing the students with asynchronous instruction before the class (a short instructional video or brief handout/reading) to help them get familiar with some of the content before the one-shot takes place. If the students could arrive at the library class session having watched a short video on how to navigate the library website, an overview of how databases work, and some basic material on different types of Political Science resources, then I could devote more of the class time to giving them active experiences like working in groups to explore these resources more in depth and evaluate what they've found.  That extra hands-on time in class would help me achieve the goals mentioned above.

4. Teaching/Learning Activities and Assessment

Ideally, if I can implement the learning activities I described in my answer above, then I can provide the students with an opportunity to critically consider their information needs and the most appropriate resources. Doing so would prepare them for the forward-looking assessment, bringing the activities and assessment into alignment.

Here is a draft of my Worksheet for Designing a Course from Page 23 of the Fink reading.

Week 2 Educative Assessment post

1. Forward-Looking Assessment

Since the course I'm working with is a gateway to upper-level Political Science courses, I hope the skills that students learn here will be applicable in other classes and beyond. Forward-looking assessment would be a great way for me to see if the skills might be transferable.  One skill that I am particularly hoping they develop is an understanding of different information types/formats and their usefulness in addressing different information needs.

To measure this, I could provide students with an assessment where they need to evaluate the usefulness of different information types in a real-world scenario as an in-class activity.  I've written an exercise below that is represntative of what I have in mind (though it may take some re-wording or re-thinking).

Scenario given to students:

You are an employee with the Foreign Service recently transferred to the office that manages relationships with Hungary. This region of the world is outside of your area of expertise, and you want to understand Hungarian peoples' attitudes toward to their government to help you better do your job.


1. Identify two resources you would find most useful improving your understanding:
  1. A World Bank report on trade in Europe
  2. Results from the most recent elections to Hungary's National Assembly
  3. A book on revolutions and governance in Central and Europe since World War II
  4. A literature review of educational attainment and job satisfaction surveys in Hungary
  5. A memoir of a Hungarian survivor of the Holocaust
2.  In a few sentences, please describe why the sources you chose might help you understand the people of Hungary's attitudes towards their government.

[Note: Resources 2 & 3 most directly and completely answer address the information need. The election results are a primary source with current and relevant bearing on the question of attitude towards government. A book on revolutions and changes to systems of government help to contextualize the current political landscape.]

2. Criteria & Standards

I could develop criteria related to my forward-looking assessment that would serve to assess students' performance on that task and their understanding of different information types. The criteria and standards might also later serve as a way to measure their incorporation of resources into the paper they write for Intro to Political Inquiry.

Criteria 1 (related to question 1): How well did the student identify the resources best suited to the information need?

Standard Levels: 
Beginning: Student identified neither of the two most suitable resources from the forward-looking assessment scenario.
Emerging: Student correctly identified one of the two most suitable resources
Proficient: Student correctly identified both of the most suitable resources

Criteria 2 (for question 2): How well did the student describe their reasoning in choosing those sources?

Standard Levels:
Beginning: Student's description of how they chose their resources is absent or does not provide criteria for resource selection.
Emerging: Student's partially describes their process or criteria for resource selection or adequately describes the selection of one resource.
Proficient: Student adequately describes criteria for resource selection.

[I recognize that my second criteria needs some work. I need to be clearer about what is expected at each level]

3. Self-Assessment

The second question in my forward-looking assessment asks students to describe their rationale for the answers they chose, which will hopefully help them to be reflective on their own understanding of the content. After submitting their responses, students could be given time to compare with classmates, too, as a way to further investigate, defend, and reflect on their choices.

With cooperation from their professor, I may be able to ask students to write up a similar reflection on the sources they included in the bibliography for their Intro to Political Inquiry final paper.

4. FIDeLity Feedback: 

Frequent: As it's currently structured, the current library interaction is one-shot, so there may only be one chance for feedback.

Immediate: I am imagining responses to the forward-looking assessment exercise being submitted through Google Forms or a quiz module in the Learning Management System. Feedback for the first question could be immediate, and feedback on the second question could be provided within a day of the session.

Discriminating: Using the criteria and standards developed in Question 2 above, the feedback would be discriminating and give students an indication of their place on a 'Beginning', 'Emerging', and 'Proficient' scale.

Loving: Raising student awareness of the library and increasing the level of comfort with library services is a major goal of mine. One way to create a strong level of comfort with students will be to provide encouraging feedback and genuine care for the students so that they consider me a source of help in the future.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Week #1 - Fink Worksheet on Situational Factors

1. Specific Context of the Teaching/Learning Situation

The library instruction scenario that I'll be focusing on for Instructional Design Essentials is a one-shot session that I do for a sophomore-level Introduction to Political Inquiry class in our Political Science department.  The class is 3 credits and meets twice per week for 75 minutes. The enrollment is typically between 12 and 24 students.

In the past, the librarian has been invited to provide information literacy instruction during one class period. This has always been a face-to-face session in the library's instructional lab.

2. General Context of the Learning Situation

Introduction to Political Inquiry is a required course in the Political Science and International Relations majors.  It's the prerequisite for all upper-level Political Science courses and has several learning outcomes which the library component of the class helps fulfill, including:
  • Use key methods of inquiry in political science
  • Conduct research in political science
  • Demonstrate improved critical thinking skills

3. Nature of the Subject

Students are applying their knowledge of political inquiry to a topic of their choice, so I would consider it a combination of theoretical and practical knowledge.  The subject is very divergent; students begin by learning the methods of political research, and from there each learner will explore their own (instructor approved) topic. In the past, the subjects for student research have varied widely.

4. Characteristics of the Learners

The students are enrolled in a full-time, residential undergraduate program, and many are either Political Science or International Relations majors. They come to this course likely having completed a 100-level College Writing  course or having scored high enough on standardized tests (SAT, ACT, etc.) to exempt them from the introductory writing. Many students will have had at least one interaction with an instruction librarian prior to taking Intro to Political Inquiry.

5. Characteristics of the Teacher

 In preparing for the past sessions, faculty teaching this course have stressed the importance of students finding topics of appropriate scope and the need for students to make better use of library resources.

If I consider myself in the role of the teacher (if only for one class session), I would say that my attitude to the students is welcoming. Since I will see many of them in upper level political science classes or in consultation on their senior seminar, I really want them to view me as inviting and as a resource for future help. My attitude towards the subject is one of interest but not expertise. My background is not in political science, but I know enough about their research methods and use of primary and secondary sources to work with undergraduates.

"A year (or more) after this course is over, I want and hope that students will___"

I hope that students will be able to determine what type of information is needed to answer a research question and give thought which resources might best assist them. I also hope that they will remember that librarians are available and eager to help them with their research.

Foundational Knowledge Goals

In the types of assignments the students are completing for Political Inquiry, it will be important for them to have a working knowledge of different resource types -- texts on political theory, case studies, data and government information, etc -- and the format that each type of information is likely to take. What types of information are most likely to be found in journal articles? What is likely to be found in books?

Application Goals

Students need skills that will help them to view their research question critically and consider their information needs. They will be using their resource evaluation skills to make choices about which sources to include in their literature reviews.

Integration Goals

Students should consider how the process by which they gather information for their Political Inquiry paper is both similar and dissimilar to decisions in everyday life. Reflecting on how a research paper compares to other information seeking habits will help them critically examine the type of authority valued in academic work versus other types of daily activities. Reflecting on the requirements for credibility can show students the contextual nature of authority and appreciate the fluid nature of information's value.

Human Dimension Goals

Students will be more reflective about their chosen topic. Thinking about the information they need for their topic will hopefully equip them to better critique and interpret the writings of others.

Caring Goals

Students will hopefully develop a feeling of being comfortable in the library. They will recognize the librarian as a person interested in their success and feel that their continued success is valued by the library. 

Learning How to Learn Goals

Ideally the Political Science majors in the course will learn the basic research methods and resource types for their field of study, and this knowledge will help the students be successful in future classes. The underlying ability to understand the processes and purposes behind different information formats will serve them well in other classes and their everyday lives.

Thursday, April 30, 2015


This is a test post for my Instructional Design Essentials class (May 2015). Primarily, this post is just to get something up on the blog and see if the tagging is working properly.  More to come!