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Enriching the Academic Experience: the Library and Experiential Learning at Middle Tennessee State University
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Enriching the Academic Experience: the Library and Experiential Learning at Middle Tennessee State University


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Enriching the Academic Experience: the Library and Experiential Learning at Middle Tennessee State University …

Enriching the Academic Experience: the Library and Experiential Learning at Middle Tennessee State University

William Black, Christy Groves and Amy York, Middle Tennessee State University

Middle Tennessee State University adopted its experiential learning program as part of the 2006 academic accreditation process. Experiential learning (EXL) merges classroom teaching with the work environment to enhance the overall educational experience. Through EXL, students, faculty and external organizations collaborate to strengthen learning.

The James E. Walker Library has taken a proactive program approach to EXL @ MTSU, through the creation of partnerships with instructional faculty and student groups. Through these partnerships, members of the library faculty have been engaged in a number of entrepreneurial activities to enhance student education and involve the library more directly in the university’s mission to develop educated men and women.

We propose to talk about some of the library’s entrepreneurial partnerships that enhance learning through experience. These programs include initiatives such as the Student Art Partnership which offers the Library as a learning site for art installations that raise student awareness, the Printing Press Project which brings the library’s locally crafted 18th century reproduction printing press into university and county K-12 classrooms, and the Assessment Project which utilizes skills of Management & Marketing and Anthropology students to evaluate library effectiveness across campus.

We will discuss a representative sample of EXL partnerships at MTSU, describe the activities and outcomes, and assess how, by thinking entrepreneurially, the programs have strengthened the library’s relationship with students and brought the library more fully into the educational process.

William Black is a Professor & the Administrative Services Librarian

Christy Groves is an Assistant Professor & the Coordinator of User Services

Amy York is an Assistant Professor & the Distance Education Librarian

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  • 1. Enriching the Academic Experience The Library and Experiential Learning William Black Christy Groves Amy York Middle Tennessee State University INSPIRATION, INNOVATION, CELEBRATION an entrepreneurial conference for librarians June 3 & 4, 2009
  • 2. Introduction and Overview  Define EXL  EXL @ MTSU  EXL experiences @ MTSU Walker Library  EXL formal class  EXL as a new role for libraries
  • 3. Several EXL Definitions  Internships  Cooperative Education  Undergraduate Research  Study Abroad  Service Learning  Leadership Development  Student Teaching
  • 4. EXL @ MTSU “that learning process that takes place beyond the traditional classroom and that enhances the personal and intellectual growth of the student. This education can occur in a wide variety of settings, but it usually takes on a ‘learn-by-doing’ aspect that engages the student directly in the subject, work or service involved.” -- Experiential Education in the College of Arts and Sciences, Northeastern University, 1997.
  • 5. EXL @ MTSU  Develop an experience-based knowledge & apply theories to practical problems  Create connections between experience and discipline  Cultivate good citizenship through contributions to community  Develop as individuals -- understand needs of others, cultural awareness, and appreciation of differences  Develop & demonstrate managerial & leadership & research skills  American Democracy Project, McNair Scholars
  • 6. MTSU EXL Requirements  18 hours of EXL classes  At least one external activity – a research project requiring interaction external to the department or university  Internal service component – leadership role in campus sponsored charitable activity, volunteer with campus office, or campus leader  Completion of an E-Portfolio (a Web site created by the student showing learning outcomes during the EXL Scholars Program experience)  Participation in assessment activities
  • 7. EXL Benefits to Faculty  Participating in the EXL Program at MTSU can provide valuable opportunities to:  Keep abreast of changing needs in industry  Interact with professionals in the field  Become familiar with employers  Evaluate classroom instruction in relation to students’ preparation for employment  Explore new possibilities for working relationships  Explore new possibilities for public service
  • 8. EXL Experiences @ Walker Library  Library as Partner: Revisioning the Library  Marketing students and survey  Anthropology students and focus groups  Art students and paper projects  Library as Leader  Spring 2009 EXL 2010: Revisioning Walker Library  Library as Lab  Anthropology and Garbology  Printing Press Project
  • 9. Library as Partner
  • 10. Revisioning the Walker Library  Assessing the Library’s Role  Evaluating Performance  Structuring the Partnership  Goals  Outcomes
  • 11. Revisioning the Walker Library Focus Questions  What Activities can be stopped?  How could continuing activities use less resources?  What changes could be made to improve efficiency?  What new services/activities could be provided to faculty and students to improve the library’s relevance to the campus?  What relationships with other campus units should be established or expanded in order to improve library’s relevance to the campus?
  • 12. Marketing Initiative  Purpose  Explore why students come to the library  Determine how often they would come if certain changes were made  Discover ways that could student use of the library  Methodology  Paper & pencil survey handed out and completed in classes (869 responses)  Restricted choice questions  Margin of error = +/- 3.3%  Data entered into computer & compiled
  • 13. Marketing Initiative  Results  Students primarily come to the library to a) use computers b) meet with study groups c) do research for a class  Students would come more often or stay longer if the library had a) more computers b) increased open seating, more comfortable seating c) the ability to reserve meeting rooms d) longer hours, particularly 24 hour access during exams e) the ability to bring food & drink into the building
  • 14. Marketing Initiative  What we learned:  Collaboration has value  Population counts
  • 15. Anthropology Project  Three overriding questions:  How do students conduct research for class assignments?  Do students use the library during the research process and  What are student perceptions of the library?  Focus Group Discussion Issues: How students conduct research  Who students consult about research  If and how students use the MTSU library  Student awareness of library resources and services  Student satisfaction with library resources and services
  • 16. Anthropology Project  Methodology  Student researchers solicited participants  The Library provided food for Summer focus groups  Researchers took notes and transcribed audio sessions  Discussion questions developed as a group with anthropology instructor
  • 17. Anthropology Project  Research Outputs  Written field reports  Oral presentation  Typed transcripts  Summary of findings by instructor
  • 18. a Anthropology Project  Assessment  Review of focus group transcripts  Assignment of identifiers  Identification of common themes
  • 19. Anthropology Project  We learned about why students use the library:  Use computers, study alone or with a group, do research for a class, find books and articles  How they do research:  Internet (Google, Wikipedia, Amazon), book and article research, database preferences  Who they contact  Classmates, friends in major, students who have taken same class, instructor, reference desk, Jesus
  • 20. Anthropology Project  Application of Research Results  Question Tent – Fall 2008  More laptops and increased laptop checkout period  Circulation limits increased  Food and drink policy changed
  • 21. Anthropology Project  Drawbacks of Partnership – Library Diminished control Reliance on inexperienced researchers Increased visibility = increased accountability
  • 22. Anthropology Project  LESSONS  Clear research questions  Preliminary education  Deeper discussion about project goals  Realistic timeline  Increased involvement Anthropology Project information from K. West & S. Mangrum Walker Library, MTSU
  • 23. Art Studen Amy Spring 2008 – Paper Rewind
  • 24. Library as Leader
  • 25. EXL 2010: Service Learning Practicum Revisioning The Walker Library What is it? A class in the library where you do a project, learn skills, get practical experience Why take a course in the Library? Earn 1 hour class credit Get research and analysis skills Flexible class schedule Class meets on campus and online Work with other students and individually What will I be doing? Review what services the Walker Library currently offers Review library services offered at other institutions Lead research projects to assess library services and facilities Recommend practical changes to services offered to the MTSU community
  • 26. EXL 2010: Revisioning the Walker Library Spring 2009  PLAN A: Student Advisory Board  Class credit = participation  Brainstorming new services; helping with events; administering surveys  Regular meetings ENROLLMENT = 5 students 4 students 3 students  PLAN B: single research project and discussion questions  Meet online (in D2L)  Students work independently and together online  Answer “reflection” questions about library usage/preferences (e.g., noise levels, food and drink policy, personal study habits and library)
  • 27. EXL 2010 Research Project Space Utilization Study* Methods:  10 days of observation: M-F and M-F  4 times per day (except Friday): 10 am, 2pm, 6pm, 10pm  Record occupation of open seating, computers, and group study rooms  Library is divided into zones for observations Goals:  Determine most popular seating choices: carrels, tables, or soft chairs  Identify most popular “zones” in the library  Determine peak computer and group study usage times Student participation:  Help design study parameters and observation sheets  Record observations  Analyze data * Modeled after Xia, Jingfeng (2005). Visualizing occupancy of library study space with GIS maps. New Library World 106: 5/6. pp. 219-233.
  • 28. Library as Lab
  • 29. Anthropology and Garbology A Material Culture Investigation of the James E. Walker Library, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee by Owenby and Cavlovic In this paper we will explore the material culture left behind by people using the James E. Walker Library on the Middle Tennessee State University campus. We will do this by examining the trash left behind by students and faculty in the library study rooms, student break rooms, faculty break room, and the Starbucks in the library. We will reveal our expectations, methodologies, what we found, and interpretations of these findings. We will also include a critique of our methodologies and recommendations for future projects of this genre.
  • 30. Printing Press Project The journey of reading begins with the act of printing  Back to the future  Collaboration  Construction Partners  Funding Partners
  • 31. Support  MTSU Foundation  Local Donor  Private Foundation  Friends of the Press
  • 32. PROJECT GOALS  Enhance the educational experience  Serve as a cultural resource PROJECT ACTIVITIES  Partnerships with county middle and high schools  Community workshops  Visiting artist program
  • 33. EDUCATIONAL INITIATIVES  County Schools  MTSU Classes  Community Outreach
  • 34. EXL and Libraries
  • 35. Pros: Free work Part of larger academic community Library takes active role in learning Students have active role in library services Sets up new role for libraries Cons: Results may be less than perfect Can be a lot of work for librarians Are you ready to accept student ideas? And follow up? Grades
  • 36.  Cultivating Partnerships Create list of library needs Tap your friends in academic departments Contact EXL or Service Learning Office Get to know the curriculum (senior capstone project?) Go to student exhibits, scholars day, senior showcases Use web 2.0 to invite feedback/projects (blogs, twitter, facebook, wikis) Exhibit some radical (or moderate) trust
  • 37. Mystery Pillows  Class assignment  Pillows highly used by students  Students created this on their own  Several pillows disappeared....
  • 38. Keys to the Entrepreneurial Spirit  Expect success  Be willing to try  Find a nucleus of support  Dedicate to the task  Learn from others  Snatch success from failure  Culture of experimentation
  • 39. Other Examples  Marketing/advertising  CSU San Marcos: library marketing plan1  Texas A&M: advertise e-books2  Illinois Wesleyan: promote reference services3  Database instruction (English students)  Hampton University: created database guides4  Eastern Washington University: Refworks workshops5  Ergonomics  Cornell University: library signage and workstation design6
  • 40. ENDNOTES References 1. Meulemans, Yvonne Nalani and Ann Manning Fiegen. (2006). Using business student consultants to benchmark and develop a library marketing plan. Journal of Business and Finance Librarianship. 11(3), 19-31. 2. McGeachin, Robert B. and Diana Ramirez. (2005). Collaborating with students to develop an advertising campaign. College & Undergraduate Libraries. 12(1), 139-152. 3. Duke, Lynda M., Jean B. MacDonald, and Carrie S. Trimble. (2009). Collaboration between marketing students and the library: an experiential learning project to promote reference services. College and Research Libraries. 70(2), 110-121. 4. Rhodes, Naomi J. and Judith M. Davis. (2001). Using service learning to get positive reactions in the library. Computers in Libraries. 21(1), 32-35. 5. Meyer, Nadean J. and Ielleen R. Miller. (2008). The library as a service-learning partner: a win-win collaboration with students and faculty. College & Undergraduate Libraries. 15(4), 399-413. 6. Library ergonomics. Cornell University Ergonomics Web. Retrieved May 28, 2009, from 7. Katula, Richard and Elizabeth Threnhauser.. (1999). Experiential education in the undergraduate curriculum. Communication Education. 48, 238-255.