Why Do Libraries Matter?

Poster Presented at the University of Maryland Social Justice Day 18 April 2017

Abstract: Timothy Snyder, in his latest work titled On Tyranny, states that we must both “defend institutions,” and “believe in the truth.” Libraries are a critical American institution in dire need of defense, but one that shares the mission of promoting truth through access to information and a deep historical memory. Libraries, like other point-of-need community institutions are, however, under threat. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, but in this current moment, we in the information field are seeking partners to help combat the growing disdain for and increasingly privileged access to accurate and trusted information. The coming years will be a test of our resolve and our professional ethics, but this is not new. The passing of the wide-sweeping Patriot Act during the long tail of the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks, for example, created direct practical and ethical dilemmas for librarians across the county. Some librarians such as the so-called “Connecticut Four” stood up for the rights of their users and defied the federal government’s order seeking records that, if obeyed, would have conflicted with professional ethical standards.

We are aware today of the aphoristic and perhaps hyperbolic claims against of the creeps to authoritarianism as evidenced by the recent change to the motto of the Washington Post (“Democracy Dies in Darkness”), and others but there are real threats to the crucial institutions that provide both non-partisan information and support for sensitive populations. Libraries are a broad-church but one with enduring values and ethical codes to protect our users no matter their background, legal status, or ideology. We need your help, however, how can your work interact and utilize the services provided by libraries in your community, workplace, research areas, or other contact point?

Poster Link

Bourdieu’s First Year:First-Generation Students, Habitus, and Retention

Presented at the Catholic University of America 9th Bridging the Spectrum Conference, Feb 2017

Abstract: This presentation will investigate the use of theory, in particular Pierre Bourdieu’s Habitus, in researching library populations and developing a complex, multi-dimensional understanding of an important library community. By utilizing the framework of Habitus, we seek to investigate Pierre Bourdieu’s thesis of Habitus, which is to say, a social theory of determinism that centralizes behavior without essentializing groups. The aim of the project is to study first-generation students and the issue of retention. Habitus, in many respects, speaks to an unwritten language, sense, or code (le sens practique) in which certain members of a group are naturally and unconsciously conversant and which other members must constantly use cognitive energy to work within. The hope is to investigate some aspects of this language by studying both college-normative students (i.e., those for whom college was a foregone conclusion) and first-generation students to understand, perhaps, an aspect of the difference in experience and to use some of the findings to propose some sort of library intervention.

How Disciplined Was Foucault’s Research Process?: A Proposed Method of Research Based on Philosophical and Critical Models OR How the Humanities can Help Students Understand Research 

Presented at the Considering #CritLib: Inclusion and Diveristy in Libraries conference put on by MILEX and ACRL MD, Nov 2016

The Critical Research Process

(2016) This project will investigate the effectiveness of teaching the ACRL Framework for Higher Education frames in the context of Critical Theory and as a variant model of the standard Research Cycle and  of Kuhlthau’s information seeking processes (Kuhlthau, 1991).

Research-Cycle-graphic,-jss

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The Critical Research Process by Jordan Sly is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at jordansly.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at jordansly.com.

 

Citation Master, Game-Based Library Instruction

Link to Poster pdf || Link to Game Documents

It is our on-going hypothesis that students lack a fundamental understanding not of citation mechanics, but of the essential elements underlying proper academic attribution. These issues include scholarly wayfinding and mapping through reference lists, ethical use of others’ intellectual property, that it is acceptable to utilize the ideas of others in one’s work, and most importantly for our project that the ideas and research of others bolsters one’s work and lends credibility.

(2014-15) Citation Master is a collaborative effort between the McDaniel College Hoover Library, Writing Center, and select faculty within the department of English to develop a game-based learning approach to teaching students about the importance of academic attribution. By design, this workshop does not focus on idiosyncratic, style-based rules, but instead focuses on the broader skills, philosophies, and ethics behind proper citation and good writing. Our goal is to have students take ownership of their research and to realize how the work of others can strengthen or weaken their own work.

Citation Master was born out of necessity. Our college, like most institutes of higher education in this country suffers from a plague of plagiarism and a student culture of nonchalance with regard to research and writing ethics. It was the research and project team’s belief, however, that these instances were not wholly based on dishonesty. It is our on-going hypothesis that students lack a fundamental understanding not of citation mechanics, but of the essential elements underlying proper academic attribution. These issues include scholarly wayfinding and mapping through reference lists, ethical use of others’ intellectual property, that it is acceptable to utilize the ideas of others in one’s work, and most importantly for our project that the ideas and research of others bolsters one’s work and lends credibility. This hypothesis is built on the foundation of education scholars like James Paul Gee who’s 2013 work, The Anti-Education Era, illustrates that students are not becoming dumber, they are becoming impatient with old models of education that have never been conclusively proven to work (Gee, 2013).

This workshop was designed to increase the awareness of how to develop, research, and support an academic thesis. Additionally, students will become more aware of plagiarism and the pitfalls of poor scholarship. It is our goal to foster creative learning and lasting knowledge through an interactive game-based environment. Current research into game-based learning falls into two distinct modes. The first of these modes is to shape and drive behaviour and is exemplified more accurately in profit generating games such as those available for smart phones. This model is typically used to exploit and push users into a set behaviour (ex. Play a game everyday to unlock a prize). The other typical mode is to attract learners to a new topic by incorporating game elements (Kim, 2015). While our game model does include some competitive aspects and a reward system, our overall motivation is more closely rooted in the latter example in that we are working to attract learners to a new activity through an interactive and fun device. During the course of the workshop, students will be grouped into two teams and given a polarized research topic. Each team will be assigned one side of the argument and asked to research and support their position in a debate format. The students will then be given a short reiteration of their First Year Seminar library-skills session and asked to begin conducting their research.

-Number of students in the Advanced category increased in all Tasks
-Biggest increase in Advanced category students was in Task 2
-It was fun and students responded well to the game sessions overall and actively participated in both the research and debate aspects.
-Students working towards a more sophisticated understanding of academic attribution
-It’s interactive and active learning allowing students to discover important aspects of the process through trial and error
-Should have asked more direct questions on the pre and post-tests
-Students divided their roles evenly and most students did not report feeling singled-out or forced to take on the entirety of their teams’ position.
-Students gave positive evaluations indicating that they have learned the core lessons of the session and have performed well on the team’s assessment rubric
-Taught critical skills in a positive way
-Positive reinforcement of good study habits via the Chance Cards
-Enforced the importance of attribution to “Generation Me”
-Introduces them to Library and Writing Center staff and shows them that we are fun and non-threatening
-Sits as a building block for other Writing Center and Library sessions during their time at McDaniel College

Next steps and Recommendations:
-More active learning as a part of the Library’s Information Literacy Program
-Working closer with students to understand their baseline knowledge to avoid redundancies
-Inclusion of the Citation Master game in the First Year Experience curriculum (accepted for fall 2015 semester)
-Working with team members on new game ideas and publication
-Sharing data and game materials with other institutions

Creative Commons License
Citation Master and Mastering Attribution by Jordan Sly is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at jordansly.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at jordansly.com./>

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