I was able to take a break from preparing a committee presentation yesterday to focus attention on another conference session on IL assessment.  Rudy Leon (SUNY Potsdam) has outdone herself with conference presentations and has arranged for 2 separate, but connected, panel sessions on assessment techniques.  The first will focus on program assessment, and a colleague of mine will report on Milne Library’s experience with SAILS.  Not sure if Bonnie will also talk about assessment techniques used for our campus’ required freshman writing course.  At present, all sections of INTD 105 are required to bring their class to the library for at least one visit.  This is the only FULL program where we can target a specific cohort of students and know what level of instruction they’re getting and what they “should” know before moving on to other subject-specific courses.  The system is not perfect, however.  Some students won’t take INTD 105 until their spring semester and could possibly be involved in heavy course-integrated library instruction before taking INTD 105 (but in most cases, will not even enter the library until the spring semester).  In other cases, some professors do not bring their INTD 105 class into the library, despite the requirement.  If professors opt for that one-time visit, the focus is typically on a basic introduction to the library’s services and resources.  We’ve been fortunate to have many professors request multiple sessions.  So, we see all sorts of instruction levels that our freshmen receive.  It has been a real chore to boil down the bare minimum of what every student should get, as far as research skills, if we assume that every student will be involved in at least a 50-minute library instruction session.  Then, we worked together to revise our assessment tool, making questions correlate to those bare minimum skills, using practical, real-life examples.  There hasn’t been any talk of administering the survey to our incoming freshmen at summer orientation.  I hope that we can get this done since we have no information thus far on what skills our students come into Geneseo with.  It’s great to know what they have captured after a library session, but it’s possible that some students come to college with that knowledge already engrained.  It all depends on the level of resources and instruction provided by the individual high schools.

The second panel session (ah, yes, back to my original thought of SUNYLA 2008) will focus on assessment at the classroom teaching level.  My portion of the presentation is a little bit of a hybrid since the assessment is done at the classroom level but in an attempt to have all Anthropology majors up to speed on the research skills needed to become scholars within their field.  The cumulative list of assessment techniques date back to Fall 2003, with new ideas popping up every semester.  Kintz and I have certainly accumulated a whole packet of different tools, some that have worked better than others.  I’m pleased with the 2 slide powerpoint presentation that I worked up and the structure of what I plan to say.  Now, I just need to have a good idea of how I’m going to say what I want to say.  All within 15 minutes.  I think I can do it.  Not so sure I can get my husband to stay up and listen to a rough rehearsal.

With Ellen’s retirement – although I’m so happy that she’s staying on to teach one class in the fall – I’ll have to work closely with ANTH faculty to keep the program alive.  Baby steps.  The real-life proof of what the professors have been seeing as far as the quality of student work far outweighs any statistics we can throw at them, but still I wonder if the casual statistics we’ve been keeping are worth much.  Ellen and I would really like to publish a paper but our “methodology” has been so back and forth, again based on whatever we pulled together each semester.  In total, we have some pretty good tools, qualitative and some quantitative data, but is it too scattered?

A communication professor and I met earlier this morning  to develop a general set of lesson plans to be used in this summer’s D.I.G. camp.  It was really an amazing experience, working together and seeing how many of the NYS standards our new curriculum, Research & Rhetoric (R&R – formerly C.T.U. for Critical Thinking Unit), hit.  And when you combine our curriculum to that of our teaching partners (Chemistry, Anthropology, Digital Arts, and Math), we really do touch upon all of the intermediate standards as a whole.  The standards addressed in R&R include:

  • English Language Arts, standards 1-4 (Listening & Reading and Speaking & Writing)
  • Social Studies, standards 1-3, 5 (History of US & NY, World History, Geography, and Civics, Citizenship & Government)
  • Math, Science and Technology, standards 2, 5-7 (Information Systems, Engineering Design, Tools, Resources & Technical Processes, Computer Technology, Management of Technology, Systems Thinking, and Strategies)

Meredith and I talked about how, at the college level, we aren’t used to preparing formal lesson plans to guide our teaching practices.  We agreed, however, what a useful tool these completed plans will be when July hits and we start preparing for the students’ arrival on campus.  Where student or novice teachers may begin looking at educational standards and develop lessons and activities around them, we preferred to dive into the lesson planning first and then align our activities to the standards.  From last year’s camp experience, I knew that Meredith and I would work well together, but now that we’ve joined forces, I am thrilled to be brainstorming with her.  Although our current lesson plans are fairly general and will be tweaked as July approaches and while the students are on campus, we have a really good start, including some very specific ideas about how each class will be run.  We agree that ice breaker and self-esteem boosters are essential for the beginning of each class session.  I think Meredith and I make a natural teaching team.

I was expecting to write more of an opening post to my new blog, but considering that I am in the midst of sifting through the NYS standards in order to design lesson plans for the D.I.G. summer program, it seems appropriate that I launch right into librarian-faculty collaboration.  This program has been the epitome of educational collaboration.  Last year, the camp focused on CSI techniques under the premises of a series of fictitious art thefts that happened on SUNY Geneseo’s campus.  Each of the disciplines was dependent on each other, especially in the lessons provided by the Critical Thinking Unit (CTU) – a mixture of sociology, ethnographical and library research, and overall critical thinking.  In the CTU curriculum, students put the pieces of the puzzle together working with interview transcripts, forensic evidence, information found from the web, and tips and additional pieces of evidence left by a secret admirer.  Story boards were used to visually tie the different disciplinary information together in one place.  With this information, a communication professor and a graphic arts specialist worked with the student teams to develop an oral and pictorial presentation to be delivered to a “grand jury.”  Depending on how compelling each team’s case was presented, a panel of three judges ordered an indictment for our four criminals

I never would have been involved in such a fantastic program had it not been for the Sociology professor with whom I had been working in her semester courses.  Because she saw that I was able to weave in research skills to cover the content of her designated lessons, she knew we could work well together to deliver a fun and meaningful curriculum to our middle school students.  You never know what good things will come out of your everyday work responsibilities.

Anyway . . . back to those standards . . . This year’s mystery – an archaeological dig where we hope to find Seneca artifacts – goes even further as far as seamlessly merging academic disciplines.  Archaeology, chemistry, history, math, english language arts, technology, art – each subject will rely heavily on the other in the hope of providing another enriching experience for our young scholars bound for college . . . in about 4 or 5 years.