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Librarians Teaching Professors: Reaching Overlooked Adult Learners


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This presentation was given at the Summer Teaching Retreat for Librarians 2015 at Santa Ana College, California. This session briefly describes the characteristics of adult learners, their unique barriers to learning, potential solutions, and how I used interest in the burgeoning field of Digital Humanities as an avenue to launch a new instructional series that serves faculty members - a population often overlooked when we think about an academic library’s instructional mission.

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Librarians Teaching Professors: Reaching Overlooked Adult Learners

  1. 1. Where We’re Headed… 1. Defining “Andragogy” 2. Characteristics & Motivations of Adult Learners 3. Identifying learning needs/interests 4. Case Study: Intro to Digital Humanities Short Course at the Claremont Colleges 5. Barriers to learning and potential solutions 6. Discussion
  2. 2. 1. Defining Andragogy Instructional practices to meet the (arguably) unique needs of adult learners Malcolm Knowles
  3. 3. 2. Characteristics & Motivations of Adult Learners 0 Self-directed 0 Their life experiences inform their learning 0 Highly motivated learners 0 Desire to actively participate in the learning process 0 Learning needs to be relevant to their lives 0 They need to know why they should learn the material
  4. 4. 3. Desire to Learn: Digital Skills
  5. 5. Definitions of DH 0 Digital humanities is a conglomeration of professional practices that simultaneously enhances and disrupts humanistic inquiry through interactions with technologies. 0 Digital Humanities means tackling both old and new questions in the humanities using newly digitized sources and tools for exploring new digital cultures. The digital humanities embraces new forms of scholarship that value open access and collaboration. 0 …it offers new ways of reaching hearts and minds in community and in the classroom. It is a powerful tool that can be taken up by many, but it must remain critical and accountable, and bound to the ethics of humanity.
  6. 6. 4. Case Study: Intro to DH Short Course for Faculty This six-week group provides an overview of what DH is and how it can enhance your research and teaching. Each week we will read several articles or book chapters, explore digital projects, and get our hands dirty as we learn how to use digital tools. Our discussions will interrogate the underlying epistemologies of the practices and theories we're investigating that week, as well as how those tools and approaches support our scholarship and pedagogy, specifically. reading-group/
  7. 7. 4. Intro to DH – Syllabus Objectives: 0 Understand what Digital Humanities is 0 Develop interest in a specific area that enhances your own work o Determine the next steps to explore that area further 0 Prepare you to lead your own discovery group Learning Modules by Week: 1. Defining “Digital Humanities” & “Digital Literacy” 2. Data 3. Spatial pattern finding 4. Temporal pattern finding 5. Social networks 6. Topic modeling
  8. 8. 5. Identifying & Addressing Barriers to Learning Barriers Potential Solutions 1. Technology anxiety 2. Library anxiety 3. Fear of looking incompetent and/or unknowledgeable 4. Work and childcare schedules 5. Investment in their own prior knowledge 1. Empathy, patience, and courses that teach digital skills 2. Personal invitations, openness, welcoming environment 3. Scaffold learning to build confidence 4. Flexible scheduling 5. Assess prior knowledge & ask them to reflect on how their new learning compares to their previous conceptions
  9. 9. 6. Discussion 0 Have adult learners in your library expressed interest in learning something new? If so, what? If not, what learning needs can you identify based on your interactions and experience? 0 How might you address those needs? • Workshop • Multi-session class • Drop-in consulting • Online tutorial • Handout • Other ideas?
  10. 10. References Cannady, Rachel E., Stephanie B. King, and Jack G. Blendinger. “Proactive Outreach to Adult Students: A Department and Library Collaborative Effort.” Reference Librarian 53, no. 2 (April 2012): 156–69. doi:10.1080/02763877.2011.608603. Cooke, Nicole A. “Becoming an Andragogical Librarian: Using Library Instruction as a Tool to Combat Library Anxiety and Empower Adult Learners.” New Review of Academic Librarianship 16, no. 2 (November 2010): 208–27. doi:10.1080/13614533.2010.507388. Ismail, Lizah. “Closing the Gap.” Reference & User Services Quarterly 53, no. 2 (Winter 2013): 164–73. ———. “Getting Personal: Reaching Out to Adult Learners through a Course Management System.” Reference Librarian 52, no. 3 (July 2011): 244–62. doi:10.1080/02763877.2011.556993. Knowles, Malcolm S. The Adult Learner: A Neglected Species. Houston: Gulf Pub. Co, 1973. Knowles, Malcolm Shepherd, Ed Holton, and Richard A. Swanson. The Adult Learner: The Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development. 6th ed. Boston: Elsevier, 2005. Norman, Anne E. C. “Librarians’ Leadership for Lifelong Learning.” Public Library Quarterly 31, no. 2 (April 2012): 91–140. doi:10.1080/01616846.2012.684577. Ruthven, Joan. “Training Needs and Preferences of Adult Public Library Clients in the Use of Online Resources.” Australian Library Journal 59, no. 3 (August 2010): 108–17.