Librarian Stereotypes: Do they hurt our image as instructors?

Interesting post over at In the Library with a Lead Pipe:

Ice Ice Baby: Are Librarian Stereotypes Freezing Us out of Instruction?

In Brief: Why do librarians struggle so much with instruction? Part of the problem is that we have so many facets to consider: pedagogy, campus culture, relationships with faculty, and effectiveness with students. Research on student and faculty perceptions of librarians combined with sociological and psychological research on the magnitude of impression effects prompted us to more thoroughly examine how perceptions of instruction librarians impact successful teaching and learning. In this article, we look at theories of impression formation, the historical feminization of librarianship, and suggestions for next steps that we should take in order to take charge of our image and our instruction.

Read the rest of the article over at the blog.

The One-Shot Session: ONE chance to get it right!

I saw an excellent post over at Designer Librarian on employing what she calls the Rule of One to make the most of a one-shot information literacy session.The author, Amanda Hovious, is a librarian with a background in instructional design. She blogs about applying instructional design principles to library instruction.

Amanda recommends planning your one-shot session carefully to make sure your learners get the most they can from it. She offers guidelines on offering an efficient session using the Rule of One:

  • One Learning Goal
  • One Objective Per Task
  • One Strategy Per Objective
  • One Culminating Activity

There is a  LOT of value in having a fully formed Learning Goal for each session. A goal is simple, yet hard to come up with: what do you want students to be able to do at the end of the one-shot session? One sentence is all you get. The Learning Objectives are the stepping stones to getting your students there.

See more about each bullet point over on Amanda’s blog.

End Plagiarism Now: Let’s Ctrl-X the Essay

I read an Annie’s Mailbox advice column featuring a parent’s letter complaining about plagiarism charges leveled against her student:

The teacher ran the paper through one of the commercially available online programs designed to catch plagiarism, and part of one sentence popped up. She insists he copied the sentence from some book published in the 1950s and expects him to cite his source.

The parent argues that she walked the student through every step of the essay writing process and that no plagiarism occurred – that it’s mere coincidence that part of one sentence just happened to match the 1950s book.

Annie’s response:

[Y]ou need to be practical. If teachers use these online programs to check for plagiarized phrases, it makes sense for students to double-check their papers the same way.

Annie gave some solid advice: use the same tool as your teacher to make sure you don’t get pegged for plagiarism.

There’s gotta be a better way!

Clearly college students have a culture all of their own, and educators aren’t going to be able to change that without student buy-in.

But why can’t we be more creative in the assignments we give students?

Students copy and paste for two reasons, in my unscientific opinion: First, because it’s easy, and by pre-emptively running it through something like, they can get away with it. Second, they plagiarize because their creative online activities generally center on re-using or re-appropriating someone else’s content – and fresh content is extremely accessible. They’re spending their free time connected to the internet and they’re doing amazing and hilarious things (just see Tumblr f0r good [and bad] evidence of this. But when it’s good, it’s gooooood).

I think the current education system enables plagiarism by continuing to emphasize essays as the default demonstration of content mastery. This is an assignment format that is extremely susceptible to becoming copy-and-paste masterpieces. Students have always plagiarized – it’s just much easier now. So let’s let students put their online creative urges to academic use by coming up with new ways of assessing their mastery of course content.

How about more presentations – but NOT with PowerPoint? Have you tried Glogs or VoiceThread? How about more group work with deliverables that mirrors what they’ll have to do in professional jobs? How about letting students come up with their own ways to show you they understand the course, without rigidly forcing them to produce 1000 words on the subject?

Let’s make assignments more interactive and more reflective of the culture that students and professional workers actually live in. Good writing skills are very important. But so is getting students engaged in the material they’re supposed to be studying. I bet, like me, you do your best work on subjects and mediums that are most engaging for you.

What do you think? Got any creative ideas for tackling the culture of plagiarism?

Flip Your Classroom

What does your library instruction session look like? Most academic library instruction sessions are a one-shot deal: usually an hour, hour and a half at the most, to give college students a quick crash course in basic research skills.

Your time with students is so limited. How do you know if they “got it” with little-to-no hands-on time? There might be a better way!










Many instructors, in libraries and out, are trying a “flipped classroom” model to make the most of their time with students:

A flipped classroom inverts the traditional educational model so that the content is delivered outside of class, while class time is spent on activities normally considered “homework.” For example, students may access instructional material through videos, podcasts or online tutorials before the class meeting. Then during class time, students work on activities which force them to apply what they have learned. (

I spend a lot of time in my instruction sessions demonstrating database use and citation shortcuts. If I’m lucky, there’s time at the end for students to do some searching on their own. Why not have students watch my lecture/do tutorials on their own time, and then dedicate class to hands-on practice?

Now, this teaching model does mean a potentially greater time investment for the instructor. For one-shot library workshops, the library instructor has to work closely with the class instructor to make sure students are prepared beforehand. Also, the library has to prep the tutorials and screencasts for students to watch, and has to maintain these materials to keep them current.

But the dividends can be great! Imagine doing no lecturing during the class-time you have with students, and being able to work one-on-one or in groups to help students “get it.” Something to think about as we move into a new school year!

Check out the original post “Keep Up With…Flipped Classrooms” over at ALA. More resources below!