Marian is a mid-career librarian. She has given more library instruction sessions to English Composition students than she can recall. She is particularly proud of the instruction that she does. But lately, the unspoken truth is: She has become a little burned out.
Even so, she remains committed to improving her instruction. And while she has identified several things that she would like to address in her library instructions sessions, she feels blocked or even overwhelmed on several levels.
For example, learning styles has always been a source of befuddlement for her. Marian has always had trouble with the idea of appealing to different types of learners, while covering all of the necessary material in fifty minutes.
This leads to another difficulty that Marian is experiencing. She is beginning to feel that she is dragging these English Composition students instead of teaching them. Over time, she has grown to dislike the once comfortable role of the “Sage on the Stage” role. She wishes that someone or something would help her to become the “Guide on the Side.” She feels certain that technology, hard and soft, could assist in this process.
In this regard, there are several platforms that she would like to more fully integrate into her teaching, but she’s at a loss on how best to do this. Blackboard, Clickers, LibGuides, and other types of software and hardware are all of interest. But which platform should she choose? What software has the most potential? Marian is genuinely confused.
She has heard from many sources, including her colleagues, that active learning is very helpful in improving student learning. But how can she increase the students’ activity and not lose her ability to control the content of the class. Marian is concerned: Won’t active learning mean even less time for everything that needs to be covered? Might it even help to create an environment that has additional problems with student behavior and classroom management? Marian is worried that some of the changes she is contemplating are not going to work.
On top of all of these concerns is that of assessment. In the past, Marian has not felt that she has gotten a lot out of assessment. So, her students’ scores improve from the multiple-choice pretest to the posttest, but what she is she doing right? What is she is doing wrong? At a single-question level, or overall, assessment does not provide the kind of information that directly leads to improvement. This leaves Marian is at a loss.
In addition to the multiple-choice assessment, the English Composition instructors have been surveyed concerning library instruction, from time-to-time. At Marian’s institution, it should be noted that a majority of the English Composition instructors are adjuncts. Here are a couple of their responses. One instructor wrote, “I don’t remember her name, but she’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Very helpful.” Another replied, “She didn’t leave enough time for them to practice. She spent too much time with the databases, and not enough time on books. Overall, I was a little disappointed.” Marian remembers doing similar instruction for a similar assignment for two different instructors. If these two replies were theirs, what did this say about her teaching? And more importantly, what information can she glean from these two, apparently contradictory, responses that would help her to enhance her teaching?
Marian needs help if she is to change and improve upon what she has been doing with library instruction for the last several years. As her colleague, can you help her? Can anyone?