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sooooo much!

15th Annual New Reference Research Forum July 12, 2009

Filed under: ALA 2009,Conferences — ellie @ 3:00 pm

15th Annual New Reference Research Forum
The Research Forum is one of the most popular programs at ALA Annual, where attendees can learn about notable research projects in reference service areas such as user behavior, electronic services, and reference effectiveness. This year’s Forum features three presentations: Building a Model of Excellent Reference Service Based on WOREP (Wisconsin-Ohio Reference Evaluation Program) Data, the recipient of RUSA’s 15th Anniversary Reference Research Grant; “Teachable Instants” in Instant Message Reference: Taking the Opportunity or Taking a Pass?; and Measuring the Effectiveness of Online Tutorials: A Pragmatic Approach.
Speakers: Julie Gedeon, Kent State University; Carolyn Radcliff, Kent State University; Megan Oakleaf, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University; Amy VanScoy, North Carolina State University Libraries; Cindy Craig, Wichita State University Libraries; Curt Friehs, Kansas Public Library

What WOREP Results Say About Reference Service, Patron Success and Satisfaction

WOREP = Wisconsin-Ohio Reference Evaluation Program

This is a survey in which patron and staff both fill out survey after the transaction. They had a huge amount of data. There were over 100 participating libraries and years and years of participation (1984-2008).

They gave an overview of what methods they used. This part had a lot of statistical jargon that I didn’t know.

They had mostly positive results. Patrons felt they had personal attention and librarians were professional. Their final thoughts: play to your strengths – librarians ranked highly in personal attention and professionalism. Also, continue to do the things that are highly correlated to success: offering enough help, enough time, giving clear explanations, and “librarian appears knowledgeable.” They offered that they didn’t know what that last one meant, maybe everyone should wear glasses. I imagine it has more to do with confidence and skill.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Online Tutorials: A Pragmatic Approach

They started with some assumptions and refutations:

  • “Interactivity is the online hallmark of active learning.” ~ Nancy Dewald
    • Maybe not so if interactivity turns into interruption.
  • Technology is naturally intuitive to college students and young adults.
    • Not really true. Students claimed high satisfaction with the tutorials, but weren’t able to complete the tasks.
  • Tutorials are too hard to make and “I’m too old.”
    • Then you’re down before you start
  • Why can’t we just use the vendor tutorials?
    • You ask what time it is, the vendor is going to teach you how to build a watch. You want something to get to the point quickly. They don’t need to know every feature.
  • “I’ll just put my handouts online. It’s the same thing as an online tutorial.”
    • No, it’s not.
  • “Online tutorials are going to make my job obsolete.”

Some conclusions:

  • Students learn more from video tutorials than from html tutorials
  • Interactivity is not necessary for learning, may even hinder

The Research:

  • surveyed 140 finance students after watching Value Line Online tutorial
  • tutorial left students wanting to know even more
  • more research was needed

The second part of the research was with lower level biology students who came in to the library for instruction with their class – a captive audience.

They looked at some principles in terms of html vs. streaming media tutorials. The principles were modality effect, dual coding theory, and constructivism. For those first two html does poorly since it is visual only while media has video and audio. For the third principle, html looks good because navigation allows for choice while video is linear with (minimal interactivity).

They made 2 tutorials – video and html. The information was the same, only the format was different. After watching the tutorial, students got a survey with an opportunity for feedback and a quiz. They found that confidence increased more with students who watched the video, but more importantly people who watched the video scored way better on the quiz questions. They hope to expand on it more in an upcoming article. They feel there need to be more studies on the effectiveness of different types of tutorials and that libraries should be creating more animation plus narration brief tutorials.

“Teachable Instants”: Taking the Opportunity or Taking a Pass

Megan Oakleaf and Amy Van Scoy

This was a particularly fantastic presentation with wonderful ideas and examples of things we should all be trying.

They took an academic and a teaching and learning focus. They looked at a few models of educational theory in particular.

  • metacognition
  • constructivism & active learning
  • social constructivism

Then they tried to create catchier titles that would be easier to apply:

(great slides with examples)

  • catch them being good – reinforcing positive behaviors
  • think aloud – describe cognitive process, they can learn from our coping tstrategies perhaps even more than when it works out perfectly
  • show, don’t tell
  • chunk it up
  • let them drive – examples “what do you think of those results”
  • be the welcome wagon
  • make introductions – to other staff, to come in in person
  • share secret knowledge

Their methodology included coding 1 year of virtual reference transcripts. They looked at how often the above strategies were used.

62% had at least 1 of the strategies. Show don’t tell had the highest at 43%, but only 15% if they omit page pushes. The lowest was 2% – catch them being good. Also very low at 3% was “chunk it up.” They felt chunk it up was particularly important – showing that this is a process with steps.

Another interesting discovery was that they found a lot of students asking “how?” Students really wanted to be taught.

They had a handout with examples of chat transcripts. The last page was an example of a librarian who took a pass. It was clearly a librarian who wanted to be helpful, but missed an opportunity for instruction.


  • reference transactions are instructional opportunities
  • many librarians take a pass on the opportunity to teach

meganoakleaf.info/teachwithtech.pdf – article

Their handouts will be on the research and statistics website.

There was a strong question and answer section at the end of the presentations. One audience member asked how long people took with the video vs. the html tutorials. He suggested that might have impact. He also suggested they use a task based exam at end rather than a knowledge quiz. I agree with this questioner. The html group might have breezed over it and not bothered, as opposed to when a student chooses to go to the tutorial because they want that information. The captive audience made it an artificial study IMO, since the students don’t have a self directed reason to be going through the tutorial.

An audience member suggested that librarians establish a rapport with students by talking their language.

An audience member said that his library has a student advisory board. They wanted all video tutorials. And just for one little skill. Ex: Find the x date issue of x magazine.

There was a suggestion that 3-5 minutes is appropriate for video length.

There was also a discussion about when to suggest the student come in to the library. You don’t know why they’re on chat. One person had whooping cough. They might be a distance education student, etc.


Preparing Yourself To Teach: Touching all the Bases

Filed under: ALA 2009,Conferences — ellie @ 12:00 pm

Preparing Yourself To Teach: Touching all the Bases
Whether you’re trying to identify, learn or improve your teaching skills, this session will help you get to the top of your game. Get coaching on how to adapt to your teaching space and your audience. Train on how to repare lesson plans and where to find examples. Even if you just want to learn how to look and sound like a pro, this session will help you hit a homerun.
Speakers: Monika Antonelli, Reference Librarian, Minnisota State University;Lisa Hinchliffe, Coordinator for Info Literacy, University of Illinios-Urbana; Beth Woodard, Reference Library Head, University of Illinois-Urbana

The handouts and ppt are available online at ALA LIRT’s page. I’ll mention ones by number that I thought were particularly informative but didn’t have time to transcribe.

Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe started with assessment as learning. She warned us that if we don’t tell people when they do something wrong they assume they’re doing it right. Misinformed is worse than naive. And that goes for us as teachers too.

Slide #5 – assumptions underlying classroom assessment

  1. One of the most promising ways to improve learning is to improve teaching.
  2. Teachers need first to make their goals and objectives explicit and then to get specific, comprehensible feedback on the extent to which they are achieving those goals and objectives.
  3. Students need to receive appropriate and focused feedback early and often.
  4. Assessment most likely to improve teaching and learning is that conducted by faculty to answer questions they themselves have formulated in response to issues or problems in their own teaching.
  5. Systematic inquiry and intellectual challenge are powerful sources of motivation, growth, and renewal for college teachers.
  6. Classroom Assessment does not require specialized training.
  7. By collaborating with colleagues and actively involving students in Classroom Assessment efforts, faculty (and students) enhance learning and personal satisfaction.

She also plugged the book “Understanding by Design” by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe.

Librarians teach too much content – we cover too much and uncover too little for students.

She said we need to determine acceptable evidence ahead of time. For example, we want to assess students finding articles, not a set of questions around that.

Beth Woodard started her section with a “think-pair-share” exercise – “What does it mean to be a good learner?” My section came up with:

  • interested
  • engaged
  • some innate
  • some motivation
  • know why they’re there

The presenter offered that good learners are internally motivated. You don’t have to entice them. They are self directed and have confidence in their task.

She talked about learner centered classrooms vs. teacher centered classrooms and the balance of power. You are more likely to have learners who are self regulated if they have some control. Other principles involved in creating a learner centered classroom include the function of content, role of the teacher, responsibility for learning, and purpose and process of evaluation.

Slide 19 had good notes on what learner-centered teachers do.

  1. Do learning tasks less.
  2. Do less telling and get students doing more discovering
  3. Do more design work to meet goals:
    • Take students to new skill levels
    • Engages students’ interest and involvement
    • Involves students in authentic work of the field
    • Develops content and skills awareness
  4. Do more modeling
  5. Do more getting students to learn from each other
  6. Work to create climates for learning.
  7. Do more with feedback.

Students benefit from knowing their learning styles. They know when they need to put in the extra effort.

Slide #25 has a graphic on Kolb’s experiential learning cycle. You need all 4 to have a good learning environment.

She also covered the learning styles and how to teach to the different ones.

The last speaker focused on performance. She said this is the icing on the cake. Theatrical techniques help maintain attention.

Think about your body position:

  • posture – body language
  • placement
    • position
    • level – you don”t have to stay on one level
      • you can get on a chair – cements a memory
      • can get down on a knee – “please, please don’t use Google”

Use voice exercises, articulate, and pause to eliminate ums and ahs, to highlight points and to let listeners catch up.

Break the 4th wall by going out into the classroom.

Use music – if you have it at the start, when it goes off they know it’s time to start.

During the Q&A someone argued we need to move towards having a conversation with the faculty where we don’t ask them what they want us to cover. We ask – what do your students need to be able to do? Then in our judgment, we decide – they’re going to need to know X- here’s what I can do – libguide, in session, etc.

Focus on the students.

1.Do learning tasks less.
2.Do less telling and get students doing more discovering
3.Do more design work to meet goals:
Take students to new skill levels
Engages students’ interest and involvement
Involves students in authentic work of the field
Develops content and skills awareness
4.Do more modeling
5.Do more getting students to learn from each other
6.Work to create climates for learning.
7.Do more with feedback.

ALA 2009 – Bringing the Immersion Program Back Home July 11, 2009

Filed under: ALA 2009,Conferences — ellie @ 5:00 pm

Bringing the Immersion Program Back Home
Find out what the ACRL Immersion program can do for you and your institution! Immersion Program alumni will describe significant learning experiences gained from the program, and how they applied this experience to transform their teaching and their IL programs. Discover the benefits and outcomes of the Immersion Program and gain insight into the application process through the panel discussion and poster sessions. This program is sponsored by the ACRL Immersion Program Committee.
Speakers: Amy Mark, Coordinator of Library Instruction and Associate Professor, University of Mississippi; Jim Hahn, Orientation Services Librarian, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Monica Fusich, Head of Instruction and Outreach Services, California State University, Fresno; Merinda Kaye Hensley, Visiting Assistant Librarian for Instructional Services, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

I was excited about this program because we’ll be doing a 2 day teaching boot camp kind of thing at my work.

The speakers all agreed that Immersion is an intense experience – both theoretical and practical.

Merinda went to both teaching and program track. She had three big concepts she wanted to share:

1. A learning community

  • learning that allows questioning underlying assumptions
  • ex: are we pushing our own agendas too hard on students, faculty, etc.?
  • she asked students where they struggle in the research process

2. Learning outcomes and assessment

  • decided pre and post test weren’t feasible
  • use the 1 minute essay

3. Inspiring a shared vision

Monica focused on the program track. She already had a lot of teaching experience. A change she made – she switched all basic instruction to online tutorials. She created an assignment research calculator. She shared her goals for attending – she wanted to learn latest instructional developments, see the big picture and learn tips and tricks from IL leaders and colleagues.

learn latest instructional developments

  • lots of readings as prep
  • had to write history of your institution and SWOT of your program

She also emphasized what a bonding experience it was, but she ran short on time and didn’t get to finish up.

Jim changed his library’s tour. Now, in the FYE class everyone has to grab a book that is authentic to them (their major, whatever) and then do a show and tell. He talked about the video of re-engineering the shopping cart and how that inspired him to be a leader in overthrowing the tyranny of “it’s been done before.” He also said that a good way to avoid burnout is to try different things and that you get a great cohort and look at the library in a new way.


ALA 2009 – Librarian/Scholar: From Research Question to Results

Filed under: ALA 2009,Conferences — ellie @ 3:00 pm

Librarian/Scholar: From Research Question to Results
Have an idea for a research project, but don’t know where to start? Our learned panel will inspire you to think critically about your research question, methodology, research process and publishing/presenting your results. Insight on best practices and common missteps in the process will be provided, while active researchers in our field will share their experiences with qualitative and quantitative research. Join us as we explore how to become skillful and motivated researchers. This program will be followed by the EBSS Research Forum.
Speakers: Peter Hernon, Professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Simmons College; Robert V. Labaree, Head, Von-KleinSmid Center Library, University of Southern California; Penny Beile, Head, Curriculum Materials Center, University of Central Florida

I walked in to this one late from lunch with a new friend. The speaker was talking about choosing a method appropriate for your research question. He chose content analysis since the data was already present in his case. He gave an overview of qualitative methodology and cautioned that you have to be careful not to assume causal relationships.

The next speaker discussed quantitive methodology. This was a prerecorded narrated powerpoint. Overall this presentation was a little too basic for me to pull much from. Except when it jumped into methods without explinations, then it was over my head. Very odd combination.


ALA 2009 – Library Research Round Table – Research to Understand Users; Issues and Approaches

Filed under: ALA 2009,Conferences — ellie @ 12:00 pm

Library Research Round Table – Research to Understand Users; Issues and Approaches
This session will feature three library-related research papers investigating users and their use of libraries and information. An LRRT committee will select the winning papers based on quality of study design, significance of the research topic, and potential for significant contribution to librarianship. Topics include: Community public-access computers, Online Community of Individuals in Crisis, Recreational Reading in Academic Libraries.

Note to all presenters – the slide just hanging out on the scree before the presentation starts should be the name of the program as written on the schedule to assure people they’re in the right place. This one was showing the title slide of the first presenter – “Insights from the Under-Served in Rural Washington” – S. Patricia Rempel PhD

This session is one of 4 on research from LRRT.

All three of the studies were very interesting. The first had a very finely delimited research question: What are the perceived reasons for access and usage of public-access computers among Spanish-speaking adults in agricultural communities of the Yakima Valley?

One of her study findings was that a mastery of email provided a personal sense of having crossed the digital divide, of empowerment. Yet another reason I feel that my library should start offering introductory computer classes for our students.

The second was my graduate adviser – Lynn Westbrook – Silent Crises: Understanding the Information Landscape in an Online Community of Individuals in Crisis. It focuses on intimate partner violence. Lynn stressed that this is an ongoing project. She gave an overview of her research, stressing the places that libraries have expertise that is applicable, in particular, helping women find local resources (books, people, websites, etc.) and connecting them with online support communities.  Her presentation is available on her website.

The final presentation was – Reading Matters: Examining the Role of Recreational Reading in Academic Libraries. I particularly liked how the researchers debunked some of the “reading is declining” studies that have been circulating. They addressed barriers to student leisure reading. Time was the biggest one, but they also found that students loved lists and challenges/competitions. They’ll be creating a separate fiction area pulled out from LC, setting up reading nooks, creating reading lists and starting a book blog.


ALA 2009 – Closing the Gap: Making Information Literacy Seamless Across K-16

Filed under: ALA 2009,Conferences — ellie @ 10:00 am

Closing the Gap: Making Information Literacy Seamless Across K-16
The alignment between ACRL’s Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education and AASL’s Standards for the 21st-Century Learner will be presented. Short presentations will follow highlighting effective collaboration between K-12 and higher education library personnel to bridge the information gap. The session will close by sharing resources to facilitate similar collaborative efforts, including a resentation about the Committee’s toolkit.
Speakers: Judi Repman, Professor

IMG_3866Closing the Gaps is a big initiative in Texas right now, so I was interested in see what others were doing with this initiative. The shuttle ride was longer than I expected, so I wound up missing the first presenter. When I arrived Jane Prestebak was sharing her personal background, then moved on to sharing her project – a Research Project Calculator – based on student standards for Minnesota. They had the goal of breaking the research process into meaningful steps. It was based on an Assignment Calculator developed by another university. That original calculator had 12 steps, they took it down to 5 steps (with subsets). They felt it was important to start with a question, then ask the student to make a value judgment.  Asking students to write “about cats” invited copying. Whereas ‘Cats make better pets than dogs’ invites debate.

A couple of other takeaways that I really enjoyed:

  • The suggestion to perform research aloud – model the process. Don’t focus on here’s the print button, etc. Instead talk about what the results are, what you think of them, which articles you might be interested in and why.
  • Dribbling analogy – when you teach kids to play basketball you have a lot of dribbling practice. Translate that into information literacy practice exercises. For example – have the students summarize an article every Friday. This one fit well with the story about math as mental weightlifting that I read about in Made to Stick.

There was a fair amount of time spent on discussion standards, core collections, etc. which is not what I came for, but the last presenter had some very engaging and inspiring stories of collaborations he was able to facilitate in his incredibly rural area. He pulled groups of people (students, librarians, etc.) together on Wimba and let them set their own agendas, some of  which just included talking about what it was like in the country vs. the city, but also moved on to citation software. He also shared a story of working with what you have – example of guy with no budget for books, magazines, etc. But he can catalog, lead to donations.

All the links will be on the ALA Connect Site – K-16 Information Literacy Group.