Monday, July 2, 2012

A Midsummer Day's Blog

Well, it is officially July, which means from here on out I'm constantly going to be wondering aloud where the summer has gone (likely to the point of annoyance for those around me).  Since my last post we've completed Summer Institute here at Grand View.  Summer Institute is an intensive planning and development time for faculty and professional staff.  This year GV brought in Jared A. Danielson, a speaker from Iowa State University, who shared strategies for efficient and effective assessment.  His workshop was titled Evolution, Not Revolution: Curricular Design as the Natural Outcome of Data-Driven Decisions (and how to write test items to produce the right data...), and we discussed and worked through different types of test questions to better gather authentic data.  As someone with a background in education, much of what Danielson shared was review (particularly because of the emphasis placed on assessment and effective test question writing in my undergraduate program--when you're a music teacher, you need to constantly gather and share assessment data in order to help justify your program, and Luther well-prepared its music education majors to do that).  It is nice to have a few packets to reference as we move forward in creating pre- and post-tests for our Core Sem I classes.  The rest of Summer Institute was broken up into departmental workshops, with the final day being an off-campus retreat for lunch and strategic planning for the entire campus.  

For our departmental retreat we discussed our planning for the upcoming fall semester, focusing on Core Sem I which begins the roll out of the new core (in which IL is a key outcome).  We laid the groundwork for pretesting and a series of post-tests in those classes, along with periodic informal (or formative) assessment of in-class activities (including assignments, Blackboard discussion posts, and other activities).  For the library, we are aiming for three main IL outcomes for students to reach a level of satisfactory or above (though students will also learn to apply an even wider range of IL skills, these are the ones we are focusing on at the first-year student level):

  • Information gathering: Students will gather quality, research-based information using multiple sources & types
  • Evaluation: Students will analyze information for accuracy, authority, currency, relevance, and bias
  • Differentiation: Students will differentiate between types of sources and use them appropriately
Our rubric was completed, and will be used to help guide our instruction throughout the semester and will be applied as an assessment tool when looking at the final written assignments.  We also brainstormed 6 sessions/topics that need to be covered in each of the embedded Core Sem I classes, and 4 optional, "a la carte" lessons that may be included if appropriate to the course/requested by the course instructor. Though the direct wording is still being developed, here is a general overview for the 6 required sessions (which may usually be done in any order, depending on the needs/calendar of the course):
  • Short introduction with the embedded librarian, and brief introduction to library services (this is required and must be done early in the semester)
  • Plagiarism
  • Finding and evaluating information: Websites
  • Finding and evaluating information: Books
  • Finding and evaluating information: Journal articles
  • Citations: Annotated bibliography, reference pages, in-text citations, etc. 
The a la carte options include:
  • Technology session: Windows MovieMaker, Prezi, etc.
  • The research process: creating an outline, drafting, revising, etc.
  • Choosing a good research topic
  • Understanding the information world
Depending on course calendars, some of these concepts may be combined or introduced with another, but we felt it best to break it down by individual concept first, allowing instructors to easily see how the library has planned to meet the larger objectives while still making it relevant and authentic to the course assignments.  

Our off-campus strategic planning day included all staff and faculty from Grand View.  This was the first year GV has done something like this, and it was an interesting experience to be a part of.  Basically, we all went through the strategic plan, got an update from the President, and brainstormed ways to respond to opportunities & threats by setting measurable goals--the big ones being long-term financial viability/size, academic quality and reputation, and considerations to keep in mind with the populations we serve.  We looked at current strategies in place and, in mixed groups, brainstormed other strategies.  It was really interesting to hear from other departments & have ideas grow from just something mentioned in passing, to something that could actually be implemented.  Below is one of 3 walls that were covered in post-its with ideas for improving university services while remaining affordable and relevant.  

The time after Summer Institute has also been a bit of a whirlwind.  I was away for two and a half weeks working at the Dorian Summer Music Camps as a camp counselor (two of my very favorite weeks of the summer).  This year's counseling staff was fantastic and the campers were absolutely wonderful! After camp, I returned to work for three days and then hopped in my car once again and hit the road for Minnesota be a personal attendant for one of my dear friends.  This week is also a bit of a strange week with July 4th on Wednesday, but after that I think a regular routine will emerge and help me get back into the swing of things.  It is pretty quiet around the library this summer, which is normal.  I know I should appreciate this quieter planning time, but I admit, I miss the hustle & bustle and energy students bring to the campus during the year.   I'm gearing up to finish preparing Becky Canovan's & my presentation for the upcoming Indiana University Libraries Information Literacy Colloquium, working on developing a purchase list for our new leisure reading nook, developing programming for faculty development, brainstorming for a new YA book club, and prepping 7 embedded classes (and growing) for the fall...on top of regular library duties. There's definitely plenty to do, and I wouldn't have it any other way!