Instructional Innovations

Throughout my career I’ve had the opportunity to use the classroom as a lab to explore and experiment with different teaching methods and active learning strategies. This has allowed me to grow as a teacher and educator. As my responsibilities have grown and shifted to overseeing program development and implementation, I have been able to investigate other aspects of teaching that are outside of the typical classroom.

Examples

Critical Inquiry Outcomes

The Critical Inquiry Outcomes was a collaborative effort with various different colleagues. These outcomes were developed specifically for freshman enrolled in the introductory speech and composition courses. They are written in a way to support a yearlong library curriculum. The first five outcomes cover the Fall Semester and focusing on more introductory concepts and skills. These include learning about library as space and place, becoming familiar with the ISU & Library research environment, and general search techniques. The last three outcomes are covered in the Spring semester and build upon what was learned in the Fall Semester by focusing on more enhanced search strategies, ethical use of information, and evaluating information.

Interface identification classroom activity

One thing I have noticed in the classroom as students attempt to use academic search engines and databases is that they do not use or notice the various tools available to fine tune their search results. In observations and discussions with students, most don’t use these features because they don’t understand what they mean or do. The unfamiliarity of the interface is a barrier in of itself. I created an activity where I provide students a screen shot of a search results from an academic database. I place students into groups and tell them to identify 3 ways to reduce the number of results. I tell them that they will share their selections with the rest of the class but with a challenge. No group can repeat what was shared previously. Students love this little bit of a challenge and enjoy showing off what they know. This is a great activity because students are the ones discovering the tool themselves and not me telling them or pointing out specific features. Once students start searching for sources I invariably see them using the interface features more extensively.

CRAAP activity

This activity is a revision of the typical web site evaluation exercise (Credibility Relevance Accuracy Authority Purpose) and is specifically created for a group assignment within the introductory speech course. It was modified to accommodate multiple types of information sources not just web sites. Students hand in this assignment and receive feedback from the librarian partnered with their class.

Online Module 2 (Fall)

This module was developed as a supplement to the introductory composition course, which does not have a required library session. The module outcomes are: a review of module one, distinguishing between various types of sources in a variety of ways (source type, citation style, abstract, etc), determining types of actual sources to use, and using additional features of Search Anything. I developed the structure and content for the course. Of specific note the two videos: Clues for detecting types of sources and Additional elements for Using Search Anything.

Instruction Tips

Providing professional development opportunities for Milner librarians is a component of the department’s roles and as Head, it is my responsibility to facilitate those. About two years ago the department developed an Instruction Tips newsletter. Each article is a short, quick focus on the teaching and learning spectrum. Everyone in the department writes articles. Originally the articles were located at a hosted site, accessible through a unique username and password. In an effort to make it more accessible, I moved the newsletter to a local web server and created an XML document to enable sorting and categorization of the different articles.