Friday, April 20, 2007

TLA 2007 Conference Notes, Day 3: Session on Bridges and Information Literacy

Session: Randy Hensley, "Building Bridges Through Information Literacy."

(This session was definitely worth getting up for on a Saturday morning. The session also resonated a lot with me because Dr. Hensley's institution, University of Hawaii at Manoa, is very similar to UHD--commuter campus with not so good retention and very diverse student population. We lack the nicer weather and beaches, for one. Allegedly, the slides of the presentation will be available in the TLA website sometime soon. If they ever get to it, I will add an update note.)

  • Teaching and learning is about relationships. So, we should be roaming and getting close to the students.
  • Bridges involve retention and graduation; the process does not stop because you got them to come to college from high school.
  • Instruction is the academic way of outreach. (Amen. This is a core in my philosophy of librarianship and teaching. If I could only get a few more people to believe it, my work would be a lot easier)
Bridge program examples:
  • College Succcess Programs. This is the most traditional.
  • High School Success Programs. Colleges reach outside of their terrain to help with high school success and strengthen the high school experience.
  • Job Success. Faculty working with vocational programs.
  • Choices Success. This would be exemplified by career and college fairs.
Reference: See "Ways of Thinking: Doing Research and Being Information Literate." In Student Engagement and Information Literacy, ed. Craig Gibson (ACRL 2006). (Hmm, it seems one of my "sister" campuses actually has the book. Time to put in a request for it)
  • Research is a college's best product because it mandates critical thinking and provides a framework for problem solving.
  • If you look back at the ACRL Standards, it how research functions. The Boyer Commission added the concept of inquiry in advocating the teaching of research as a critical thinking/problem solving model.
Some premises:
  • Information literacy standards are outcomes of learning (a note to myself to verify an article that discussed the language used to talk about IL).
  • Information literacy defines learning.
  • An information literate student is a learner.
Students lack a model for a larger context, but they have been solving problems all their lives (family crises, having to hold down jobs, etc.). So, tell this to the arrogant faculty members who think 18 year-olds are not ready to learn how to do research.

You can look at a journal article as a story in a particular form. Teach them in terms of the elements of a scholarly narrative. (This is definitely a nice tip and a positive way to look at this. One of the challenges I face at times is students with difficulties when it comes to reading an academic journal article. For a while, I have been giving thought to how to best address this. This little piece of advice definitely gives me something to think about)

Scan the environment for trouble, where help is needed. Look for risk. Use this to find and create your inquiry opportunities.

Some things that at-risk students miss (in terms of IL concepts):
  • Ability to differentiate sources.
  • Credibility and ability.
  • Definition of research (it is problem solving, not a literature review).
  • Reading diligence and comprehension (staying with a text and reading it).
A common faculty complaint is that kids can't write (I hear this one quite a bit). In fact, in some ways the kids can write. They can often tell a story very well. What they really are missing is the argumentative, inquiry way of writing, the analytical writing (which is what the faculty should be teaching in the first place).

Students at risk have some advantages:
  • Creativity.
  • They are opinion writers.
  • Have group process skills.
  • They are teachable, if you (the teacher) are aware the new students are in a state of "becoming," moving to the next step.
Students are aware of the Google mess, but Google is still easy to use. What they really need/want are other research options (in other words, don't go telling them not to use Google without offering a viable alternative).

To get collaboration, get people on the same page of a concept or value.

Rivers needing a bridge (in other words, where the students need help):
  • From questions to hypothesis to research artifact (notice the word "artifact" not just a 20 pg. paper).
  • Some additional information sources.
  • Mentors (some to help in community collaborations, etc.).
  • Evaluation of sources.
  • Comprehension.
  • Haphazardness.
On the Student Success Center at U of H-Manoa (things they have done and to consider):
  • Increasingly the library will be evaluated on the basis of its impact on student learning. (In other words, it's not about the stuff in the library; it's what you do with it for student learning. This is something that we need to take more into account here, and I am not talking about pretty new spaces and just adding more computers).
  • Minimal perceptual baggage (the library seen as a place to learn).
  • Geography (the location advantage. In the case of U of H-Manoa, their library has a pretty central location. In our case, we are barely in a good geographical position. Though located in the main building, we are not easy to access, which negates the concept of geography).
  • Tutoring.
  • Writing assistance.
  • Study groups.
  • Study skills.
  • Research paper process.
  • Career exploration.
  • Information literacy.
  • Also, workshops, consultations, scheduled arenas, chat reference, podcasts. Think more of different ways to reach individuals on their time.
  • Marketing. You have to get word out of the services offered and created.
  • Faculty integration.
  • Assessment.
  • Remedial AND enhancement.

Optional reading: My final thoughts on the conference are scribbled over on the scratch pad. This is strictly optional.

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