Component 1: Statement of Competency
Libraries often serve a general public in some way or another which means the population served will be diverse. This diversity will range from gender and ethnicity and most importantly from age level, learning types and cognitive ability. The problem that lies here is that with this diversity and the services the library offers it is imperative that we, information professionals, be equipped to teach our patrons, especially if we are offering the services to the general public. Char Booth quote’s David Carr stating that, “libraries are public places intended for learners, and for lives of self-invention and pursuit. At their best, they are forums for communication, independent learning, and self-preservation” (2011, p37). Due to the diversity of a class population it is easy to acknowledge that teaching is not an easy task, especially if done well.
Instruction is a big part of libraries and the life of most information professionals. The process in how instruction is presented is based largely on the learning theories approached when teaching. There are three learning theory schools: behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism. The first theory, behaviorism is observable learning or conditioning. This technique was perfected by Ivan Pavlov and was a huge influence on how we perceive learning processes and behavior today. The theory showed that by repetition of an action will result in a form of learning; ringing of a bell signaled food to the dog which in turn produced salvation from the animal. In behaviorism teaching practice and repetition are key.
The second learning theory, cognitivism is where learning is structural and internal. This means that learning is passive rather than active, as behaviorism suggests. The key to encouraging this learning theory is to create and structure your instructional content in a way where connections between information can be made easily. The third major learning theory is constructivism, where learning is social, active and contextual. This learning theory is achieved through real world application of the information gained. Constructivism encourages collaboration and self-directed learning strategies; we see this theory more often in hybrid and online schools. The second and third theories I have discussed have more influence on current learning and instructional theory than behaviorism.
How are these theories applied to library instruction? As a library educator, it is to be expected that we will work with an assorted set of media tools and an audience with varying skill levels and backgrounds, commonly referred to as diversity. The diversity factor makes is less desirable to rely on one theory over another. To apply this to your instruction design you must ask yourself “How do I balance my instructional message between the know-it-alls and the know-next-to-nothings while engaging the know-somethings and resuscitating the don’t-cares?” (Char Booth, 20011, p50). This is where teaching gets difficult; your instructional design will not fit every audience you teach and needs to be adaptable. We should in fact incorporate best practices from each learning theory that will accommodate our audiences: repetition, structure and physical application.
Component 2: Justification of Evidence and Evidence:
My first piece of evidence I chose for this competency is a [recording of the training session] I did with Michelle Simmons on using the new LMS Canvas. I selected this piece of evidence to show my understanding of an active learning approach coupled with a curriculum theory approach. In this training session we had a PPT which we focused on certain aspects of the LMS, this is where the curriculum focused teaching existed. Then we went through the LMS together, with a hands on approach where Michelle was able to ask questions and we were able to tailor the instruction to her needs.
The second piece of evidence I have included is a [Prezi presentation] of a developed information literacy workshop I created and I presented to multiple classes as a school I worked at. This specific presentation was tailored towards an Anatomy Fundamentals course where I go over the basics of using our databases and eBooks. During the presentation the class was engaged in using these databases hands on and we worked together to think of relevant search terms and topics they would be researching for their finals projects. This workshop went over our databases but also addressed the audience I was teaching and incorporated best practices in searching for quality material on Google. I knew that although I encouraged them to use the databases that they would also use the popular search engine, Google. To compromise my desire for them to find quality information and their desire to use a tool they were most familiar with, I worked together tips and techniques to accommodate both.
My final piece of evidence is a [Library Assignment for Incoming Freshman and Transfer Students] that I created for Libr210. I chose to include this piece of evidence because it incorporates a self-directed learning strategy incorporating practices of behavioral, cognitive and constructive learning theories. The assignment is tailored for a specific audience, incoming college freshman & transfer students, and designed to allow them to work at their desired pace, independently and with a structured topic. The assignment encourages interaction from students with library staff and to apply and practice what they are learning.
As librarian professionals we may not all be teacher librarians but we must be able to provide some form of instruction in our careers, whether formal or informal. This instruction will incorporate methods from the three major learning theories, whether we are cognitively aware of them or not. It is important however that we understand these learning theories so that our instruction can be effective and successful for those we do teach.
Booth, C. (2011). Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning: Instructional literacy for library educators. Chicago: American Library Association Editions.
Recording of Training Session with Michelle Simmons: https://sas.elluminate.com/p.jnlp?psid=2014-01-15.1859.M.D9064253C1714AA6E90E09538CD2D1.vcr&sid=2011274