alao instruction interest group workshop, part 1

I attend ALAO’s Instruction Interest Group‘s annual workshop the other week. I attended last year and this year was also fantastic. The keynote speak was Michelle Millet, the Immersion Faculty & Director at John Carroll University Library. Michelle mentioned she is on the committee for the ACRL information literacy standards updates. She talked about her experience in Backwards Design for instruction.

Michelle mention an experiment where Teaching Assistants in History (or English, I don’t recall the subject) taught half the instruction sessions for the discipline while librarians taught the other half. At the end of the semester, assessment found that retention of the skills taught in the library sessions was better with the TAs than the librarians.

This was a reminder that information literacy is not a library issue and doesn’t always need to be taught by librarians.

Michelle said “embracing student learning means letting go of some of your teaching.” She talked about how we need to stop teaching one shots. She pointed out that there is no other learning happening on your campus that only happens once!

It’s a good point; agreeing to teach information literacy as “one and done” subtly suggests that we don’t value what we do. Of course, many of us feel we are left with no other option. There was a lot of conversation about negotiating with faculty and trying to get buy-in from library administrators.

We need to learn to say no to one-shots (especially first week of the semester and those babysitting jobs) and provide other ways of learning. How can you get faculty to something other than a one shot? Some ideas were holding shorter classes more often or giving homework assignments that you grade with feedback.

Backwards Design is meant for K-12 and is explained in Understanding By Design by Wiggins and McTighe. I first heard about this book at ALA in 2013 from Megan Oakleaf (mentioned by Michelle).

In Backwards Design, you start by asking “What do you want the student to be able to do? What is the understanding?” This is not “how” or “what tools” but simply “what.” What do students need from you, the librarian, versus what they need from the faculty member?

Of course, our “what” list will be longer than the time you have (since really, one-shots aren’t on the way out any time soon). So, you need to decide:

What is “worth being familiar with?” Those things, LET THEM GO.

What is “important to know and do?” Sure, cover in class, IF YOU HAVE TIME.

What will lead to “enduring understanding?” This is WHAT MUST THEY LEARN FROM YOU as opposed to the faculty member, on their own, etc. And honestly, this list is probably a lot smaller than you think it is.

Michelle also talked about assessment. If the student can do Skill A, what will you see? How will you know? You need to look for evidence in activity-based learning. Sometimes, the faculty member might see the evidence, after class. So think, how will you get that evidence from the faculty member? Again, negotiation is key.

Now that you’ve answered those questions, you can start designing your instruction (yup, we haven’t even started that yet):

What will you need to teach them in order to see what you just identified as the evidence?

1. Identify desired results.

~ established goals and big ideas that you want students to understand

~ essential questions that will stimulate inquiry

~ knowledge and skills that need to be acquired given the understanding and related content standards

2. Determine acceptable evidence.

~ keeping the goals in mind, what performance tasks should anchor and focus the unit

~ criteria that will be used to assess the work; will the assessment reveal and distinguish those who really understand versus those who only seem to understand?

3. Plan learning experience and instruction

Michelle refers to this as an AUTHENTIC assessment cycle . You plan, implement, assess, and then report and revise.