Trends, Achievements, and Perspectives
April showers bring May flowers. Remember that little ditty? As a wee squib, I recall my mother and grandmother liltingly delivering that charming limerick as we trod through rains, splashing puddles and holding hands on our way to the paddock to feed the calves, or walking to the one-room schoolhouse where my sisters and I spent a few years.
Well, it is April and this academic term is closing. While there is no rain falling here, I am thinking of the sprouts and blossoms that will come in the month of May, anyway.
Papers have been researched, written, and submitted. Students are preparing for exams. I am consulting with faculty on library instruction and Information Literacy Skills Development (ILSD) sessions that have been delivered, exploring ideas for improvement and enhancement of the program. It may be the end of term, but it is the beginning of a very busy term for me. Summer months are usually filled with professional development opportunities, documenting reflections on the previous years’ work, and evaluating outcomes.
Some instructors asked for one ILSD session this past term. That session focused on a specific skill or concept relevant to the subject area or assignment. For example, students in an anthropology class were researching culture in the context of commodity exchanges. The learning opportunity focused specifically on using databases where students could locate detailed information on the chosen commodity and searching business databases where company profiles are found. Other instructors had requested multi-pack sessions. These sessions commonly covered one research strategy and a database, followed by a session covering the concepts of academic behaviour, honesty, and integrity, as well as avoiding plagiarism with proper attribution.
This term also saw the completion of the second pre-pilot program where ILSD sessions were integrated into all English 100 classes. Collaborating with the core subject faculty, my integration was structured to support assignments, in-class activities, and course curriculum:
A key element differentiating this pre-pilot from the previous was the formal assessment tool used. In the first pre-pilot, sessions were assessed informally using student feedback, questions posed and feedback from students, observing in-class activities and presentations. A formative assessment instrument was used in the first term of this pre-pilot program which I analyzed to improve in terms of active-learning activities, session structure and content, and use of educational technologies.
I had the great pleasure of attending the University of Alberta Augustana Information Literacy Workshop again, in October of 2014. The topic “Building Capacity for Information Literacy Through Wisdom, Courage, and Humor” was timely and relevant. During that conference, I reconnected with Nancy Goebel, Head Librarian. Nancy’s work in the field of information literacy is highly regarded and she is recognized as an authority in innovative library instruction and information literacy in the context of higher education. Nancy won the 2015 ACRL Women and Gender Studies Section (WGS) Significant Achievement Award, for her work creating the Augustana Human Library.
The encouragement and support of Nancy helped us as we adopted the Information Literacy Assessment & Advocacy Project (ILAAP) assessment tool for this ILSD pre-pilot. Participating institutions span across Canada and the United States, ranging from small colleges to state and provincial universities. The tool is very easy to use and deliver to learners, the gain analysis is quickly computed, and the results are sent electronically. I consulted with subject faculty, deciding which questions from the assessment bank were to be used for the pre- and post-assessment. Learners were given a link to the assessment tool and approximately 20 minutes to complete it during the first of 5 sessions. The post-assessment was given during the last session.
The assessment questions were carefully chosen by the subject faculty and myself to align with the content of the sessions and the learning outcomes we identified. The gains analysis was very enlightening. Correct answers to questions relating to research strategies increased between 13% and 32%. Correct answers to questions pertaining to academic integrity and avoiding plagiarism increased 13% – 15%. This indicates significant strength in both the program content and delivery and in the assessment tool itself.
What are our next steps? The subject faculty and I will further analyse and reflect on the term, identifying gaps and opportunities. The gains analysis will be reviewed. We anticipate that the future format, assessment, instruction, design, and content of the integrated ILSD program will be guided and informed by the gains analysis. As we review both pre-pilots, we will look to the newly minted college strategic plan, ensuring that the program, learning objects, and outcomes align.
Then perhaps in 2017-2018 we will launch a formal pilot program after Deans, faculty, department heads, and VP’s have approved the proposal.
Oh, this is an exciting opportunity and tremendous learning adventure.