Thanks for coming. When I was invited to campus, I was asked to talk about current trends in psychology and their impact on library service. I’ve been involved in psychological research since I was undergrad over a decade ago, so it’s hard for me to imagine being a librarian without psychology shaping my perspective…on information needs and behaviors, instruction, reference services, system design, information architecture, as well as program evaluation and research. Psychology has given librarians tools with which we can measure the impact and significance of our services on our patrons. I hope this presentation will introduce you to some of the ideas in the literature as they relate to serving students as learners.
Psychology is a broad discipline that seeks to understand the human mind; it encompasses many concepts, theories, and research approaches. It emerged the field of philosophy as a separate discipline around 1879 when Wilhelm Wundt established an experimental lab in Germany. A wealth of basic and applied research has led us to a better understanding of cognitive processes, how these processes relate to physiological activity, and has contributed to a variety of techniques useful in studying how people interact and process information.
Given the roughly 30 minutes I have today, I want to focus on how insights provided by recent psychology research can help us to improve library services. Specifically, I’ll talk about our understanding of students as learners and our practices as teachers. These ideas are not scientific interpretations of the research findings, but ideas inspired by them and applied to library services. As such, they need to be evaluated for validity and efficacy within the academic library setting.
Presentation pattern/rhythm: Main ideaStories & ExamplesResearch pointsPractical application for library services
Stories & Examples:Have you ever noticed that the first questions to come to mind when something bad happens are why and how? We seek out the story behind the events in our lives.Stories connect discrete facts into a cohesive whole. Stories can be subtle, entertaining, and persuasive. Stories acknowledge the whole person, engaging us emotionally and cognitively. Stories allow us to overcome complexity by acknowledging contradictions. Stories balance the big picture with details and allow us to communicate our perspective of the world.The power of stories lies in the ability to take seemingly random bits of information and build a cohesive, compelling, and memorable whole that helps us make sense of our world. One of the challenges in passing the healthcare reform bill was the complexity involved. There were so many components and so many competing viewpoints that no one was able to come up with a convincing story FOR it; but the stories against it were powerful and simple – who can forget the death panels?Over the past 18 months, we’ve all heard reports that try to help us make sense of what happened and why. Those that are most memorable are able to handle both the big picture as well as the personal affects of the crisis. [play audio]
3. Research points: we need to understand OUR WORLD AND THE PEOPLE AROUND USWe have lots of ways to help us make sense of our world. Stories are one, explanations are another. Like stories, explanations have a social component. We can use explanations to predict what will happen, to diagnose a system failure, and to place blame. There are gaps in our explanations of things. We can choose to try to fill the gap by seeking out new information or we can decide to outsource it to someone else. Although many of our explanations are incomplete, we somehow manage to use them quite well until we are forced to face a gap. Often, trying to explain something to someone else makes us aware of the incompleteness of our own understanding (Keil, 2006). An interesting finding is that collectivist cultures tend to provide more situational explanations about behaviors, whereas individualist cultures tend to provide more dispositional explanations. (Keil, 2006)
4. Library service: we need to understandWhat this leads me to is that stories are a untapped instructional tool for information literacy. We can use stories to relate information literacy principles to topics that students are interested in. We can use stories to more fully engage students – emotionally as well as cognitively. We can use stories to put information into context when introducing them to new topics and when issues are complex. We can also use stories to convince students of the relevance of libraries, librarians, and information literacy to their lives. These stories don’t need necessarily need to be fiction; some of the most compelling stories I hear are on NPR. Although stories can oversimplify many situations, they are a great starting point for building basic understanding.
Presentation pattern/rhythm: Main ideaStories & ExamplesResearch pointsPractical application for library services
It’s a widely accepted rule in music and dance education as well as for training in many sports that practice the primary tool that will help us reach a high level of performance. In education, this idea of proficiency at a specific task is called mastery, in a broader context we call it expertise. Practice is one of two important components of developing expertise in information literacy that I’ll discuss today. The other is feedback, which I’ll talk about in a few moments.
3. Research points: practice makes proficientI’ve often heard people say that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert. But I wondered how much the quality of practice time mattered, if at all. So I tracked down the source of this claim. This figure from an article in the Journal of High Abilities describes three skill domains and the tasks used to assess expertise. The results reported indicate that across a wide range of domains with different levels of motor skill, strategy, and creativity, the power of meaningful practice stands. But, just doing an activity does not itself lead to improvement and doesn’t explain the high levels of performance we call expertise. Ericsson
The quick answer is no. But we can provide students with a solid foundation that will help them translate the skills they learn in the classroom to the workplace.
5. Library services: practice makes proficient a. In all major domains there has been an accumulation of effective methods for teaching the accumulated knowledge and skills (Ericsson, 1998); LIS is in the early stages of accumulation of methods to teach information literacy skills relevant to constantly evolving technologies b. the core assumption of deliberative practice is that expert performance is acquired gradually and that effective improvement of students’ performance depends on the teachers’ ability to isolate sequences of simple training tasks that the student can master sequentially (Ericsson, 1998)Where can these opportunities be provided within the existing undergraduate and graduate psychology curricula? 1. portfolio that demonstrates the range of information literacy skills and discipline knowledge 2. research journals for the methodology core 3. annotated bibliographies for the social and natural science core 4. literature review for upper level specialty content (could lead into a capstone) 5. have students develop quality criteria for specific types of information or sources; make them justify their choices and apply them to 3 sources
Presentation pattern/rhythm: Main idea: The research overwhelmingly agrees that we respond best to positive reinforcement, rather than punishment.Stories & Examples:
If you haven’t read this article, I recommend it. I just want to read three sentences from it that really surprised me.“Of those praised for their effort, 90 percent chose the harder set of puzzles. Of those praised for their intelligence, a majority chose the easy test. The “smart” kids took the cop-out. “
This summarizes the results from a study conducted by Dweck and her team. Experimenters and children acted out several scenarios with puppets. For each scenario, the child was asked to draw something. For half of the scenarios, the experimenters praised the child generically “You are a good drawer” and for the other half they were praised specifically “You did a good job drawing.”Questions A and B measured self-evaluation after the third successful scenario, while questions C-H were asked after the mistake scenarios were acted out by the child and teacher with puppets. Questions C and D addressed students self-evaluation through direct questions – did what happened in the apple story make you feel like you were good at drawing or not good at drawing? and did what happened in the apple story make you feel like a good boy/girl or not a good boy/girl? The persistence questions were forced choice questions that asked the children what they would do tomorrow. The differences in self-evaluation between the two types of praise after the mistake scenario are significant. The differences between persistence after the mistake scenarios are pretty striking.
3. Research points on feedback v praiseThis is the model proposed by Dweck after years of research in this area.
3. Research points on specific, effort-focused praiseGood instruction is vital, but we all need feedback to check our understanding, add detail, and revise errors.a. the research indicates optimizing feedback is complex because the response to various types of feedback depend on the situation (Hattie & Timperley, 2007) b. “specific goals are more effective than general or non-specific ones, primarily because they focus students’ attention, and feedback can be more directed.” (Hattie & Timperley, 2007) c. feedback is effective when it consists of information about progress, and/or about how to proceed (Hattie & Timperley, 2007) d. four levels at which feedback can be directed: task, process, self-regulation, self (personal) (Hattie & Timperley, 2007) e. “There is considerable evidence that providing written comments (specific feedback related to the task) is more effective than providing grades (Hattie & Timperley, 2007) f. feedback related to the process is most useful when it assists students in rejecting erroneous hypotheses and provides direction for searching and strategizing (Hattie & Timperley, 2007) g. feedback at the process level appears to be more effective than at the task level for enhancing deeper learning (Hattie & Timperley, 2007) h. Instruction happens first, feedback happens second. (Hattie & Timperley, 2007)i. students often view feedback as the responsibility of someone else, usually teachers, whose job it is to provide feedback information by deciding for the students how well they are doing, what the goals are, and what to do next. (Hattie & Timperley, 2007) j. A number of studies identified greater tendencies for East Asians compared with North Americans to attribute school achievement to effort and not to abilities (Heine & Buchtel, 2009) k.In comparison with Namericans, Easiansembrance personal avoidance goals, rate opportunities to lose as more important than opportunities to win, persist more on a task after failure and less after success (Heine & Buchtel, 2009)
4. Stories & Examples: Impact on library service (cont…): One response in the blogosphereto the NY Magazine article and Dweck’s forthcoming book is that results are what matter in the real world, so feedback has a limited role outside of education. I think the writer misunderstood the broad nature of feedback and its role in learning. Even if I trained like an Olympic runner, I wouldn’t necessarily be able to compete against one. While following the right process will not guarantee that the result or outcome is what we want, it’s necessary for non-experts to have a procedure to follow until they have internalized the complex rules that lead to the successful result. None of us learns instantaneously; we all require time, practice, and feedback to learn new skills. Praising the specific behaviors that lead to success (as defined by experts) is an effective way to shape our students growth.
4. Impact on library service:Undergrads: identify by major or selected career path, work with them in small groups; Grad students: identify according to program, professional goals, and stage of program, work with individually;Work with faculty to have copies of assignments or be involved in incorporating information literacy into assignments; Provide effort-focused praise;Use pre-tests (even if they are verbal response questions) to make students aware of knowledge gaps before instruction;Work with faculty to provide task- and process-specific feedback on course assignments;Using rubrics to guide task-specific feedback and build students’ self-regulation skillsThere are two arguments for hands-on activities during library instruction related to feedback research: 1) because it increases the availability of timely and relevant feedback or allows for more instruction when appropriate; 2) the best opportunities for feedback are often correcting a mistake
In the past ten years or so, we’ve seen the huge success of several products that take complex tasks or processes and make them simpler for us? Unfortunately, the research literature on human-computer interaction is quite large and more than I could explore for this presentation. But this is one question I would like to explore.
There is a wealth of research on human-computer interaction and good design, but much of it is contradictory or specific to particular situations or groups. This is a potentially rich area of collaboration for librarians to work with psychologists as well as designers to redesign the online presence of libraries.
Current trends in psychology research - how can they improve library practice?
This I believe: Psychology research informs library service<br />Heather Coates, BS, CCRP<br />Masters student<br />Schools of Library & Information Science<br />School of Informatics<br />Presented @ James Madison University on May 6, 2010<br />
Put information in context<br />Situate information and resources within the discipline and topic<br />Use stories to engage, to teach, to assess knowledge and application, to share social context?<br />Encourage students to use and apply knowledge in social, interactive tasks that represent real-world tasks and situations<br />
Can we train experts?<br />BA/BS = 120 credit hours<br />8 hours of meaningful practice per credit hour<br />960 hours of meaningful practice<br />MA/MS ~ 36 credit hours<br />20 hours of meaningful practice per credit hour<br />720 hours of meaningful practice<br />
What is feedback?<br />“…information provided by an agent regarding aspects of one’s performance or understanding…a consequence of performance”<br />“…fills a gap between what is understood and what is aimed to be understood”<br />Hattie & Timperley, 2007<br />
But in the real world, results are what matter.<br />
Librarians can improve student learning by…<br />Setting course- and program-specific information literacy goals<br />Provide effort-focused praise<br />Using well-developed rubrics<br />Incorporate hands-on activities during instruction<br />Monitoring our effectiveness through data-driven evaluation<br />
In taking theoretical research findings and applying them to our practice, it is vital that we systematically measure their impact upon these practices.<br />
“Good teachers are, after all, themselves students, and often look for ways to expand upon their existing knowledge.”<br />Ferrance, 2000<br />
References<br />Adolphs, R. (2009). The social brain: Neural basis of social knowledge. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 693-716.<br />Ericsson, K. A. (1998). The scientific study of expert levels of performance: General implications for optimal learning and creativity. High Ability Studies, 9(1), 75-100.<br />Ferrance, E. (2000). Action research. Themes in education. Providence, RI: LAB, Northeast and Island Regional Education Laboratory at Brown University. <br />Heine, S. J. & Buchtel, E. E. (2009). Personality: The universal and the culturally specific. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 369-394.<br />Keil, F. C. (2006). Explanation and understanding. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 227-254.<br />Lieberman, M. D. (2007). Social cognitive neuroscience: A review of core processes. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 259-289.<br />