Journals for Learning, Journals for Teaching (LILAC 2009)


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Presentation given at LILAC 2009, which was held in Cardiff, Wales.

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  • Journals for Learning, Journals for Teaching (LILAC 2009)

    2. 2. Presentation Outline Context:  Authentic Assessment for Information Literacy Instruction  Reflection in the Learning Process  Journal-keeping as a reflective learning tool  Reflective practice in teaching  “Assessment-Evaluation-Revision” Cycle Information Literacy in UCD: The Case Study  Module overview  Analysis of student research experience reported in 2007  Using students’ research experience to adapt module
    3. 3. Framework
    4. 4. Authentic Assessment Traditional methods of assessing IL outcomes (i.e. quantitative, standardised tests, product appraisal, evaluation surveys) – only assess certain level of learning or student satisfaction Authentic assessment: “an evaluation process that involves multiple forms of performance measurement reflecting the students’ learning, achievement, motivation and attitudes on instructionally relevant activities” (Callison, in Sharma, 2007, p.127)
    5. 5. Reflective Learning  Metacognition - “awareness of [one’s] own cognitive machinery and how the machinery works” (Meichenbaum, in Woolfolk et al, 2008, p.319)  Declarative knowledge – knowing what to do (skills, strategies)  Procedural knowledge – knowing how to use the strategies  Conditional knowledge - knowing when and why to use strategies  “Learning is enhanced as learners become aware of their own learning strategies and begin to monitor the use of these strategies” (Grassian & Kaplowitz, 2001, p.48)  Three skills which enable individuals to regulate thinking and learning – Planning, Monitoring and Evaluating (Woolfolk et al, p.320)
    6. 6. Learning & Reflective Journals/Portfolios “Journals, logs, diaries, portfolios are containers for writing that is recorded over a period of time” “A learning journal is:  diverse;  not necessarily written - but most of the time assume written format;  generally reflective and accumulated over a period of time with the intention to learn, i.e. not purely descriptive;  flexible (it can be structured or unstructured)  a useful back-up to learning;  something that accentuates favourable conditions for learning - e.g. space, time, reflection.  •applicable to all disciplines (not just literary)” (Jennifer Moon for UCD Centre for Teaching & Learning)
    7. 7. EG’s of Journals/Portfolios for IL instruction  Diller & Phelps (2008): Use of e-portfolio to assess IL in General Education Programme. Students included two pieces of evidence for each of 6 learning goals, e.g. Critical Thinking, IL and Communication, Self in Society  Sharma (2007): Use of a web portfolio to document the process of researching a 20-page paper. Included topic statement, concept maps, research q’s, research log, annotated bibliography & reflection  Scharf et al (2007): Use of existing writing portfolios to assess IL skills at end of 4-year programme. Rubric developed using five traits linked to ACRL standards to measure IL performance in student papers selected from portfolios  Sonley et al (2006): Use of research information literacy portfolio in “Negotiated Learning” module (adult learners), which included a bibliography, and “evidence to demonstrate the process which had been undertaken to lead to this bibliography” (p.48), e.g. Search strategies, evaluation of sources, etc.
    8. 8. Reflective Practice “If we are going to address the issues of librarians’ roles within educational endeavours systematically, we, as a discipline, need to foster reflective, critical habits of mind regarding pedagogical praxis within ourselves, our libraries and our campuses” (Jacobs, 2008, p.256) Critical reflection is  A process more than an outcome  Recognising and using trigger events  Letting go of assumptions without feeling guilty  Tipping over the ‘rocks’ of tradition or habit  Confronting illusions  Deciding on potential changes in practice (action research) (Burge, in Thomas et al, 2004, p.13)
    9. 9. Assessment-Evaluation-Revision “Assessment should be student centred and proactive. The results should be used to implement positive changes in the teaching of information literacy” (Avery, 2003, p.2) “Authentic assessment is, among other things, iterative. Librarians can evaluate student learning, implement changes, and continue this cycle so that improvement via assessment becomes an inherent part of the instructional process.” (Sonntag & Meulemans, 2003, p.8)
    10. 10. Case Study -Information Literacy Module Modular structure established in UCD in 2005-6 (“Horizons”) Overhaul of course offerings – new First Year modules developed by School of ILS Concerns about quality of First Year student essays – plagiarism and copying a particular issue Decision to establish new full (12-week) information literacy module, aimed at improving students’ skills in researching and writing academic essays “Introduction to Information Literacy” (re-named in 2006-7: “Information Literacy: Information Skills for Effective Academic Writing”) Collaboration with UCD Library staff, who deliver most of the “information searching” sessions
    11. 11. Module Objectives “On completion of this module students should be able to:  Identify and clearly articulate information needs in the context of specific information tasks.  Identify the range of potential information sources, and evaluate and choose the appropriate source(s) for specific information tasks.  Access and retrieve needed information efficiently from a variety of information media, through the formulation and execution of effective search strategies.  Critically evaluate information and its sources in terms of bias and relevance to specific information tasks.  Synthesise the gathered information to successfully solve an information problem and create a final product.  Recognise and reflect on own information-seeking strategies and behaviour. “
    12. 12. Information Literacy Framework Stripling & Pitts’ Model of the Research Process (1988)  Step 1: Choose a broad topic  Step 2: Get an overview of the topic  Step 3: Narrow the topic  Step 4: Develop a thesis or statement of purpose  Step 5: Formulate questions to guide research  Step 6: Plan for research and production  Step 7: Find / Analyze / Evaluate sources  Step 8: Evaluate evidence / Take notes / Compile bibliography  Step 9: Establish conclusions / Organize info. into an outline  Step 10: Create and present final product
    13. 13. Assessment Protocol Year 1:  One-page essay proposal (10%) – discontinued after year 1  1500-word essay (50%)  Reflective Research Journal (30%)  Tutorial attendance (10%) Year 2:  1500-word essay (50%)  Reflective Research Journal (40%)  Tutorial attendance (10%) From Year 3:  1500-word essay (50%)  Reflective Research Journal (35%)  Tutorial attendance (15%) IL pre-test (MCQ) used in Years 1 & 2, but discontinued as only offered limited insight into students’ skills deficits, and were labour-intensive to grade
    14. 14. Research Journal In Year 1: 10 weeks (from Week 3 to Week 12) Weekly entries comprised:  Goals – planned research activities for week ahead  Activities – activities actually accomplished during week  Readings – items read or referred to by student during week  Problems – honest account of any difficulties encountered  Reflection – space to reflect on the experience of research and of writing the journal  Appendices – diagrams, exercises, concept maps, search printouts, abstracts, pictures, etc... Not compulsory, but encouraged
    15. 15. Research Journal Reflection in final week: What was most challenging about the assignment? What was easiest? What have I learned through this assignment? What am I proud of with this assignment? What would I do differently next time I complete a similar task? What did I enjoy most about writing this assignment?
    16. 16. Analysis of Journals 2005-6 Problems experienced  Narrowing essay topics  Orientation in the library  Missing/unavailable items in Lib  Information overload  Fear of overlooking information  Identifying relevant information  “False hits” when searching  Problems with ICT’s  Time management  Getting side-tracked  Problems with organising info  Difficulty with essay structure  Over-reliance on print or electronic resources, especially the Internet  Problems with specialist terminology  Not having much to write about some weeks  Problems finding statistics  Understanding referencing  Technical problems  De-motivation  Difficulties with search strategies  Lack of confidence  Fear of accidental plagiarism
    17. 17. Analysis of Journals 2005-6 Students enjoyed/were proud of:  Opportunity to explore novel topics to build knowledge base in new areas  Freedom to choose own topic  Improvement in search skills  Appreciation of using multiple information formats in research  Appendices allowed for creative expression  Drawing evidence together to create arguments  Sense of achievement and personal fulfilment – persistence through difficulties, hard work, effort  Success in completing unfamiliar type of assignment  Motivation to be organised  Developing awareness of multi- disciplinarity and cognate subject areas
    18. 18. Evolution of a Module Changes made since Year 1:  Length of journal (10 weeks to 8 weeks to 6 weeks)  More lab sessions & new lecture content  Summative to formative assessment (Year 2 only)  Essay topics – broad and unfocused, to narrower , more clearly defined questions  Increased “portfolio” component – compulsory worksheets based on lecture and tutorial content  More emphasis on “activity” rather than pure reflection
    19. 19. Summative to Formative  Formative assessment: “The purposes of formative assessment are to guide the teacher in planning and to help pupils identify areas that need work. In other words, formative assessment helps form teaching.” (Woolfolk et al, 2008, p.660)  In Year 2, journal was submitted in two parts (4 weeks each)  Aim was to provide students with feedback before second half of journal submitted  In the event, turnover was not rapid enough to help students – large numbers meant that second half of journal was mostly written before first half returned with comments and grades.
    20. 20. Old Essay Titles Examples Old Essay Format  “Censorship and the Media”  “Health Promotion and Smoking”  “Health Information and the Internet”  “Terrorism and News Reporting”  “Political Corruption and Investigative Journalism”  “Diet and Popular Media”  Extremely broad topics  Student expected to narrow topic through exploratory research  Students work together on topics in tutorial groups  Student decides on “type” of essay, i.e. Argumentative, persuasive, etc  Unique “thesis statement” developed for each essay
    21. 21. Students’ Research Experience Students stuck here until close to end Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process
    22. 22. Student Quotes  In Week 6 (2006): “Again, I had great trouble trying to narrow down the topic, wish I could just write about a few different things.”  In week 4 (2006): “Getting worried now as I am still struggling to narrow down my topic. I feel as if I never will be able to narrow it down and would much prefer a different research topic!”  What would you do differently next time? (2006): “I would have tried to narrow my topic in to a specific essay title sooner. I wasted a lot of time researching vast amounts of broad information that ended up being useless to my essay title.”  What was most challenging? (2006): “As probably everybody else will state as well, I found it hardest to actually narrow the research topic down to one specific topic and question relating to it, which was caused by the sheer amount of information that is to be attained.”
    23. 23. Student Quotes  In week 8 (2007): “Last journal [entry] and things have still not clearly formed in my head of what my essay title will be.”  In week 8 (2007): “I am not completely happy with the topic and approach I chose, but at the moment it is too late to alter anything significantly. I am hoping that my good intentions an idea will come through in my writing and the paper will fit the initial, broad topic of Media and Censorship.”  In week 7 (2007): “I do not have a structure for my essay, or [am not] even certain what it will be”  In week 6 (2007): “I feel I made little progress this week; this is alarming as I am over half- way through the journal. This step backwards is quite disheartening, and I’m starting to question the aspect I decided to zoom in on.”  In week 8 (2007): “Although this is the last week, I am having a change of mind in the direction of my essay [...]. This is a major change, so I will have to change the majority of my information.”
    24. 24. Coursework under the microscope...  Persisted with broad essay topics for 3 years – belief that students should develop skills to explore and narrow topics through background reading and research, and lectures/tutorials were geared towards that  However, evidence of low confidence and frustration until late in process, in some cases never fully resolved. While frustration is normal during process, it should eventually give way to confidence and relief.  Too advanced for First Year students? More appropriate for 3rd or 4th years, or novice postgraduate researchers?  Transition from secondary to tertiary education needs to be carefully managed, to ensure student retention and motivation.  Would a more clearly defined approach to topic selection strike the correct balance between the structured approach of secondary education, and the more flexible, independent approach at university?  What kinds of essays are assigned to undergraduates in other modules?
    25. 25. New Essay Titles (Year 4) Examples  Reflect type of assignments students have to do in other modules  Clearly defined “Essay questions” but topics still quite broad  Students more easily able to articulate information needs?  Students can hopefully move beyond “frustration” stage more quickly  Students can spend more time searching for & evaluating info  “Discuss possible solutions to the problem of racism towards immigrants in Ireland”  “It is widely agreed that poverty is one of the major causes of anti- social behaviour. Do you agree?”  “Reality television competitors are the modern-day gladiators” Discuss New Essay Format
    26. 26. From journal to portfolio Previously, journal was primarily reflective Possible to complete it all in one go at end (some anecdotal evidence, and date on printouts in appendices!) “Hands-on” activities (e.g. worksheets) not compulsory Reluctant acceptance (to an extent!) of the “strategic student” – unless submission is weekly, not possible to monitor entries Revisited course objectives – importance of developing skills Portfolio format – students have to complete various exercises, etc, so work gets done regardless of when they do it Which is more important – students complete regular weekly entries, or learn through activities?
    27. 27. Portfolios “A portfolio is a purposeful collection of student work that exhibits the student’s efforts, progress or achievements in one or more areas. The collection must include student participation in selecting contents, the criteria for judging merit and evidence of the student’s self-reflection” (Paulson et al, in Sonley et al, 2007, p.47) Convey the “thinking and activity involved in the creation of major projects, and may contain records of original brainstorming sessions, early and current drafts […] and student self assessments, instructor evaluation, and student thoughts on further projects” (Thomas, 1999, p.140).
    28. 28. Journal Format Change New Template (Year 4) What stage of the process are you at this week? What research and/or writing tasks have you attempted this week? Which information resources have you searched and/or read this week? (List at least 3) Give your reasons for either choosing or rejecting resources you have looked at this week. How do you feel your research and/or writing is going this week? Compulsory appendices – students must include all exercises handed out in class, plus self-selected work
    29. 29. Student Quotes (2008) Main challenge is now focused on the information search process:  “The most challenging aspect of the assignment was the gathering of relevant sources […] Citing and quoting references was one of the more difficult aspects for me. I found the need to quote quite tedious, however I do understand the importance of it”  “I found the research of my topic quite difficult as it was hard to find books of good use [sic] and on the same topic.”  “It was difficult to keep looking at different sources that I could write about in my journal each week”  “The most difficult part of this assignment was finding enough sources to fill my research journal, it was very time-consuming to read three sources a week while juggling my other subject assignments”
    30. 30. Future Plans? More reflection required.... Change to e-portfolio format? Give students option of presenting journal in Blog format? No longer specify the number of readings to be done each week? Introduce complete flexibility – students not required to post weekly entries?
    31. 31. Thank you! Contact details Claire McGuinness School of Information & Library Studies, UCD Ph. 7167054 (Thurs & Fri) Email:
    32. 32. References  Avery, E.F. Assessing Student Learning Outcomes for Information Literacy Instruction in Academic Institutions. Chicago: Association of College & Research Libraries, 2003  Diller, K.R., & Phelps, S.F. (2008). Learning outcomes, portfolios and rubrics, Oh my! Authentic assessment of an information literacy programme. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 8(1), pp. 75-89  Grassian, E.S., & Kaplowitz, J.R. Information literacy instruction: Theory and Practice. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2001  Jacobs, H.L.M. (2008). Information literacy and reflective pedagogical praxis. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 34(3), pp.256-262  McGuinness, C. & Brien, M. (2007). Using reflective journals to assess the research process. Reference Services Review, 35(1), pp.21-40.
    33. 33. References  Scharf, D., Elliot, N., Huey, H.A., Briller, V. & Joshi, K. (2007). Direct assessment of information literacy using writing portfolios. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 33(4), pp.462-478.  Sharma, S. (2007). From chaos to clarity: Using the research portfolio to teach and assess information literacy skills. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 33(4), pp.127-135.  Sonley, V., Turner, D., Myer, S., & Cotton, Y. (2007). Information literacy assessment by portfolio: A case study. Reference Services Review, 35 (1), pp.41-70  Sonntag, G., & Meulemans, Y. Planning for assessment. In Avery, E.F. (ed.) Assessing Student Learning Outcomes for Information Literacy Instruction in Academic Institutions. Chicago, Association of College & Research Libraries, 2003, pp.6-21
    34. 34. References  Thomas, D.B., Tammany, R., Daier, R., Owen, E., & Mercado, H. Reflective Teaching: A Bridge to Learning. (Library Orientation Series). Ann Arbor, MI: Pierian Press, 2004  Thomas, N.P. Information Literacy and Information Skills Instruction: Applying Research to Practice in the School Library Media Center. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1999  Woolfolk. A., Hughes, M. & Walkup, V. Psychology in Education. Essex: Pearson Education Ltd, 2008