#Rhizo15 week two: brief thoughts on assessment

As librarians, we often use the one-shot method for library instruction, that is, one class period workshops of library resources and search technologies. I am not personally convinced that this one-shot method is the best way of conveying “information literacy” to our students.  One might also conclude that we have not done the “necessary” in terms of assessment to demonstrate the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of the one-shot method for making our students smarter and more information-capable in the information age.

Where is there time for assessment in one-shot instruction? There is no time. But assessment can be built into instruction exercises, just as critical pedagogy can be built in. For example, in a MOOC course I am taking, multiple choice quizzes are built right into each unit sub-section, both to reinforce the information being conveyed and to “report back” the degree to which the information is being received/absorbed.

I’m not an anarchist, and I don’t believe assessment should be thrown out the window completely. But I do think that it can be embedded in the learning material, like navigation is embedded in a website, so that it is unobtrusive, and perhaps, even more effective for the student and for the teacher.

p.s.  The final frosts of the season killed my squash, cucumbers, watermelon and cantaloupe. My fault for planting too soon.  Here in the mountains Mother’s day marks the end of the final frost.  The potatoes and carrots and all the greens (collards, kale, beets) survived.  So it’s off the Lowes  to buy new seeds.  And dandelions, yes, dandelions.  We need some rhizomes in the garden!

#Rhizo15 week one: Learning subjectives (vs. objectives)

#rhizo15 Learning subjectives (vs. objectives)

So, it may not be so bad to not know where you are headed, i.e., what one’s objectives are, as long as you know how you got here in the first place. That is where we are.

As a reference and instruction librarian, I am concerned about how we help students develop tools for finding, analyzing, evaluating information and how they use those tools to further develop their awareness of the world around them. One of the tools we use are libguides, and right now I am in the middle of rebuilding my share of our libguide collection to migrate to V2 (and frankly I haven’t caught the enthusiasm bug to do it, but a deadline looms…)

But I am also the liaison to the business school, with a research focus on evidence-based management, where my business school colleagues and I are focused on the role of systematic reviews (in management education and in management practice) in providing evidence for practice.

And aside from the above, I have a personal research interest in design and communication of scholarly information, primarily the design of libguides and posters, which led me to sign up for a MOOC presently underway, Design Thinking.

All these parts were tip-toeing around each other, until I took #MOOCMOOC and rediscovered critical pedagogy after a long period of dormancy. But the parts all collided when I saw the HybridPedagogy post, Libguides: Pedagogy to Oppress (a play on the title of the Freire classic, Pedagogy of the Oppressed).

So, I have two small plots in the #CullowheeCommunityGarden, and I have been ordering seeds through the mail. When I don’t use all the seeds in a package, I pour what’s left into a brown bag because I like to use the original package as a marker on the row. Those seeds mix at the bottom of the bag, unidentified for the most part, but being the efficient guy that I want to be, I plan to plant all those leftover seeds as soon as the last frost comes and goes. Except I won’t know what they are, so I will have to plant them and wait to see what they grow into. That is how I see learning subjectives. I have these ideas, these research proposals, and I suspect they are related. Well, sort of. But I don’t know really, and won’t know until they all grow together and bear fruit, just like the seeds at the bottom of the bag.

That’s what’s up, as the young folks say.

All my blogging energy has flowed into gardening efforts. #CullowheeCommunityGardening

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April 5, 2015

traveling west on I-40

early spring is as colorful as late autumn:
the highway flora is putting on new clothes
winter’s browns and greys displaced by greens
and oranges and reds and purples

further west, the road gets curvier and trees,
more hardwood that evergreen, more long-legged,
evergreens shorter, bushier

the baby mountains start to appear,
along with their mothers and fathers –
majestic, protective, persevering

I can feel my brain starting to bend
to the mountain curves. I switch the sound
from talk radio to jazz. A Love Supreme
takes me all the way to my mountain home

Blog post for April 1, 2015

The big event of March was my wife’s illness and my return home to support her recuperation. Everything else suddenly became secondary or tertiary. I learned that being a caregiver is hard work, it is easy to make mistakes, and you don’t necessarily get better at it by trying harder. After a couple of weeks she had made significant progress in her recuperation, and I was able to turn over the day-to-day operations of caregiving to a professional and return to work.

Another teaching session occurred in March, this time English sophomores working on argumentative essays. They had already chosen their topics, so the goal of the workshop was to familiarize them with databases as information sources and how the mechanics of the search for those sources could reveal certain information types that would assist them in making their arguments. So, no hocus-pocus, just straight up library instruction.

Taking a page from the playbook of one of my more experienced co-librarians, I prepared for each student a worksheet that, once filled in, would both outline for them the search and information source selection process, and allow them to prepare a customized path to proceed, from research proposal, to search term development, to source selection. The host instructor and I worked with each student individually to resolve any outstanding issues and, and this is an important step, provide examples of ideas outside their present train of thought for developing their arguments.

Research topics were varied and interesting, personalized and relevant. Sharing among themselves their topics and experiences with the resource selection process resulted in a type of cross-fertilization that will hopefully further inform the learning experience of each student.

As an aside, today begins National Poetry Writers Month (NaPoWriMo). For the past two years, I have managed a crank out a new poem each day in April. Sometimes it’s garbage, but there has been the occasional pearl in the monthly collection. This April will be different for me, however. This year I plan to work every day on unpacking and reshaping a poem that I have already written. Unpacking to remove all the dross and junk that got invariably packed in the first time. Reshaping to open up the format, freeing the poetic thoughts from the walls that previously constricted, restricted, and even conflicted open thought and discussion.

So, if you care to join me, I’ll be posting here every day in April, with links to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

p.s. Started my garden plot at Cullowhee Community Garden last week.  Haven’t gardened since my childhood, but it’s just like riding a bicycle, right?  With any luck in a few months there will be a crop of beets, turnips, okra, cantaloupe, watermelon, jalapeno peppers, carrots, foxglove, sunflowers, and lavender to share.