2019 Connecticut Information Literacy Conference

What's Grit Got To Do With It? New Approaches for IL Instruction

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Friday, June 14, 2019
8:30am - 3:00pm

Keynote Address

Coming Clean About Grit: Challenging Dominant Narratives in Library Instruction

Eamon Tewell is Head of Research Support and Outreach at Columbia University’s Science, Engineering, & Social Science Libraries, where he identifies ways to support the research and learning needs of students and faculty. 

Abstract: On the surface, grit sounds like a useful characteristic to develop and encourage in learners. We all want students to succeed, and passion and persistence are positive qualities in education and life. However, might there be unintended consequences, particularly on marginalized learners? This keynote takes a critical yet open-minded look at grit in all its complexity. What is behind the impulse to develop grit? What does it mean to apply grit to information literacy? What is grit leaving out of the picture? After describing the essentials of grit, the speaker will use the frame of deficit thinking to consider what assumptions lie at the root of the idea, look at how grit is being applied in information literacy instruction, and pose potential alternatives to grit. Together, librarians can find ways to challenge dominant narratives of library instruction while responding to students’ immediate needs.

About the Speaker: Eamon has published and presented on the topics of critical information literacy, library instruction, critical reference practice, and questioning narratives of grit and resilience in libraries, and was the recipient of the 2016 Jesse H. Shera Award for Distinguished Published Research from ALA.


Morning Breakout Sessions


A. Cast Your Students as Scholars: Collaborate on a Participatory Information Literacy Lesson Plan

Anaya Jones, eLearning Librarian, Southern New Hampshire University

Abstract: Join Anaya for a collaborative exploration of a variable, student-centered information literacy lesson plan that brings students into the ACRL frame(s) Authority is Constructed/Contextual and/or Scholarship as a Conversation. The way educators talk about scholarship can nurture perceptions of scholarship as unattainable and non-scholarly information as “bad”. This lesson casts undergraduate students as both researchers and creators of information to familiarize and demystify the process. Bring the limitations and parameters of your institution and a willingness to explore possibilities. In this active and collaborative session, we’ll work together to customize this idea to your students.

Learning Outcomes: 

1. Attendees will explore the provided lesson plan and how a similar lesson could work at their institution.

2. Attendees will collaboratively discuss and adapt the provided lesson plan to their instructional situation.

About the Speakers: Anaya Jones is an eLearning librarian at Southern New Hampshire University where she works to lower cost to students by leveraging library and open resources and explores library instruction at scale. Previously, she served as the information literacy librarian at Mary Baldwin University in Virginia. Her accomplishments there include building a searchable learning object library, and teaching a credit-bearing information literacy course.Jones earned her MS in Library and Information Science from Drexel University and her BA in English, magna cum laude, from Mary Baldwin University.


B. If you build it and they still don’t come: Using grit to develop successful faculty collaborations

Jessica Kiebler, Library Director, Berkeley College
Amanda Piekart Primiano, Director of Research and Instructional Services, Berkeley College

Abstract: Librarian and faculty partnerships are incredibly valuable and important for IL instruction but can be challenging to develop and maintain. Without mandatory, credit-bearing IL courses, Berkeley College librarians balance the fine line of anticipating faculty needs and directly asking for input on instructional support. The initiatives we decide to focus on are guided by library and institutional goals but our services are still under-utilized and therefore our librarians must have persistence to overcome these challenges. Participants will learn about the importance of being proactive with faculty collaboration, how to strategize factors out of your control and what lessons were learned from a failed faculty survey in order to develop successful information literacy initiatives using principles of grit. With inspiration from author Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit, the presenters will also share their passion for information literacy and what strategies they employed to “grow their own grit” and improve their skills.

Learning Outcomes: Participants will:

1. Understand the importance of being proactive with faculty collaborations

2. Recognize strategies to overcome limitiations from external stakeholders

3. Apply priniciples of grit to their own IL instruction or initiatives

About the Speakers: Jessica Kiebler is the Director of the Berkeley College White Plains Campus Library where she engages the Library with the campus community, educates students on information and digital literacy and designs outreach experiences that develop curiosity and life-long learning in students. Her interests include marketing, outreach, library programming, technology tools, information literacy instruction and student engagement.

Amanda Piekart Primiano is the Director of Research and Instructional Services at Berkeley College. In her role, Amanda provides leadership and strategic direction to the library’s instructional services program, and oversees the design, development and implementation of library instructional resources in order to increase the libraries capacity as academic partner in the development of engaged, critical and self-directed learners. Her interests include information literacy, assessment, instructional design and professional development.


C. Don’t Use All Your Grit In One Place

Shanti Freundlich, Assistant Director of Library Assessment & Online Learning, MCPHS University 

Abstract:The best information literacy activity won’t work if the instructor (that’s you!) is stretched past human capacity. 

Burnout is a real concern in librarianship and on the way there we exhaust our reserves of grit and resilience. Working flat out all the time means that we’re so focused on immediate productivity and “shoulds” that there’s rarely time to pause, reflect, and write meaningful goals. Before we can teach “efficiently and effectively” we need to articulate what’s important to us as whole people.

This session will be a break from the practical, implementation-driven tendencies of most information literacy professional development. Participants will be guided through an intentional goal setting process to identify what’s important to them, what’s already working, what’s draining, and to set meaningful goals. We will discuss workplace and vocational mindsets that act as barriers and set librarians up for burnout, and then collectively brainstorm survival strategies.

Learning Outcomes: Participants will be able to: 

1. Use a desire-driven instead of a discipline-driven process to write achievable goals

2. Identify workplace and vocational characteristics that are beyond the control of personal goals, grit, or resilience. 

About the Speakers: Shanti (she/her) is thrilled to be returning to the CT Info Lit Conference! Currently the Assistant Director for Library Assessment and Online Learning at MCPHS University in Boston, she works to expand the Library’s instructional support for online programs and the integration of assessment throughout the Library. Previous work includes Simmons College (now University), the New England College of Optometry, and the Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Shanti is proud of her work as an adjunct instructor in the Simmons SLIS program and as a volunteer for the Prison Book Program.


D. First Cast Out the “Grit” in Thine Own Eye: Practical Alternatives to Grit as a Model for Community College Instructional Design

Kit Rashid, Reference Librarian, Tri-County Technical College
Melissa Blank, English Instructor, Tri-County Technical College

Abstract: What is grit? Who needs it? Teaching someone to be “gritty” assumes a deficit model informed by an idealism that has limited utility when connecting with community college students. Acknowledging the limitations of grit allows us to meet students where they are. If we want to make the ACRL framework relevant, we need to foster realistic inquiry.

We consider how “grit” is scaffolded into information literacy at our own institution. Laying bare implicit moral judgments in this model, we examine the limitations of these assumptions when applied to the lived experiences of “typical” community college students. Doing this will allow us to examine the multivalent nature of authority, and to consider what would happen if, instead, we adjusted our own perspectives to validate experience. If the focus on “grit” is problematic, what can we offer that is better? Might this give community college students a more realistic opportunity to succeed?

Learning Outcomes: After this session, participants will:

1. Attendees will examine the focus on "grit" at their own institutions

2. Attendees will examine the multivalent nature of authority as a construct

3. Attendees will collaborately brainstorm potential alternative models of instruction

About the Speaker:  Kit Rashid is a reference librarian at Tri-County Technical College with a background in biostatistics and the history of medicine. As an interdisciplinary academic interested in critical data literacy as a way to facilitate a culture of civility, Kit’s scholarly perspective is informed by the belief that compassionate and empathetic librarianship is a vital form of social justice service.

Melissa Blank is an English instructor at Tri-County Technical College in Upstate South Carolina. Her interests include developing a supportive classroom dynamic and engaging students of diverse backgrounds, ages, and abilities. A first-generation academic was raised in East Hartford, she critically examines both the privileging of socially accepted representations as well as the marginalization of oppressed populations.


Afternoon Breakout Sessions


E. Getting Down to Business: Incorporating the Framework into a Sustainable & Collaborative Embedded Librarian Project

Sam Boss, Director of NVU Libraries, Northern Vermont University
Kristi J. Castleberry, Assistant Professor of Literature, Nothern Vermont University- Lyndon

Abstract: In 2017, English professor, Kristi Castleberry, and library director, Sam Boss, began collaborating on an embedded librarian project for a required Critical Thinking seminar. Our goal was to seamlessly blend elements of the Framework with the learning objectives and content of the seminar through hands-on activities related to research and writing assignments. Tying the Framework to ongoing projects resulted in a higher level of engagement and greater sense of purpose. This presentation will include an overview of the project and its evolution, a discussion on how we integrated elements of the Framework into the course, and strategies for leveraging expertise to develop a sustainable, reusable, and effective embedded librarian project. By the end of our presentation, attendees will learn how to leverage the strengths of collaborators, develop activities that can be deployed elsewhere, and foster passion and persistence by tying information literacy skills to issues of importance to the student.

Learning Outcomes: 

1. Attendees will learn how to leverage the strengths of each collaborator

2. Attendees will learn how to develop activities that can be reused and deployed elsewhere

3. Attendees will learn how to foster a sense of passion and encourage persistance by tying information literacy skills to issues of importance to the students

About the Speakers: Sam Boss is director of NVU Libraries. His primary interest is developing a strong and versatile information literacy education program on both Northern Vermont University campuses.

Kristi J. Castleberry is an Assistant Professor of Literature at Northern Vermont University - Lyndon. Her research is in identity and Otherness in medieval literature, and her passion is helping students develop compassion and critical thinking by analyzing and researching literary texts.


F. Reconceptualizing Failure: Developing Student Resilience in Research Class

Yasmin Sokkar Harker, Reference Librarian and Law Library Professor, CUNY School of Law
Mary Godfrey-Rickards, Assistant Director of Technical Services and Associate Law Library Professor, CUNY School of Law

In the current climate of misinformation, disinformation, and instability, students now, more than ever, need to develop grit and resilience. One way to do this is to reconceptualize how to process “failure”. Research by psychologists show how failure creates rich learning opportunities and strengthens resilience in learners – a skill that is critical for students.

However, students fear failure in the classroom. Well-meaning teachers often compound this fear by creating smooth-running “demos” in databases. These demos highlight database features and tools, but they often obscure the struggle and failures inherent to it. In doing so, teachers miss an opportunity for both deepening their research skills and fostering resilience.

Drawing on the psychological and pedagogical research, this session will help teachers bring failure into their classrooms. Additionally, it will strengthen a number of the dispositions found in the ACRL Framework. We will focus on dispositions from the Searching as Strategic Exploration Frame.

Learning Outcomes: 

1. Creating a Safe Space for Failure: Develop best practices for laying the groundwork for failure and creating and expectation for mistakes in the classroom by examining ways to help students contextualize failure

2. Intentionally Bringing Failure into the Classroom: Develop best practices for building failure into research exercises by examining controlled failure scenarios

3. Giving Feedback: Develop best practices for focusing on process and progress and using the language of opportunity to encourage a growth-mindset with student

4. Interactive Component: Using the Searching as Strategic Exploration frame, participants will design an exercise that intentionally builds in failure. Participants will discuss how they will set expectations for the exercise, and how they will address failure in their feedback.

About the Speakers:Professor Mary Godfrey-Rickards is Assistant Director for Technical Services and Associate Law Library Professor at CUNY School of Law. She joins CUNY Law after holding positions at both Fordham Law School and Hofstra School of Law, where she served in a variety of roles including Assistant Director of Technical Services and Scholarly Commons Administrator. Professor Godfrey-Rickards' scholarly interests include how empirical research can be leveraged to inform curricular decisions in legal research instruction, particularly as it applies to public interest students. Professor Godfrey-Rickards received her J.D. from Fordham School of Law, a Master's Degree in Library and Information Studies from the City University of New York, and a B.A. in Economics from Fordham University.

Professor Yasmin Sokkar Harker, Reference Librarian and Law Library Professor, received her J.D. from Case Western Reserve University, a Master’s Degree in library and information studies from the University at Buffalo, and a B.A. in English and Anthropology from Case Western Reserve University. Prior to joining CUNY, she was a reference librarian at Hofstra School of Law. Her research interests include legal research pedagogy, critical information literacy, legal research and social justice, and information access issues. Professor Sokkar Harker's chapter on critical information literacy appeared in Information Literacy and Social Justice: Radical Professional Praxis and her article on legal information, social justice, and the ACRL Framework appeared in the Legal Information Review.


G. The Three C’s of Transforming Internal Instructional Practices: Contemplative, Critical, Community-Oriented

Brooke Duffy, Coordinator of Instruction Librarian, Assistant Professor, Seton Hall University
Lisa Rose-Wiles, Science Librarian, Associate Professor, Seton Hall
Martha Loesch, Co-Head of Technical Services, Associate Professor, Seton Hall

Abstract: The role of Contemplative Pedagogy (CP) in cultivating mental health and developing the “whole person” is increasingly being explored across higher education institutions. There have been nascent attempts to explore CP’s benefits for academic librarians, but so far there have not been holistic discussions about using CP as a philosophy for transforming culture within information literacy programs or connecting CP with institutional mission statements. This discussion will focus on the interconnections between contemplative pedagogy, the ACRL Framework, critical librarianship, and information literacy communities of practice. In addition to examining theoretical correlations, this presentation will offer practical suggestions for implementing CP via short and long-term instructional initiatives.

Learning Outcomes: Participants will:

1. Examine interconnections between CP and library instruction

2. Create a toolkit of contemplative practices and reflective teaching techniques

3. Collaboratively developa list of methods for establishing a community of practice around the CP philosophy

Additional Information about Presentation:This presentation will also involve the dispositions within the ACRL Framework.

About the Speakers: Brooke Duffy is the Coordinator of Instruction Librarian at Seton Hall University Libraries in South Orange, New Jersey. She holds an MS in Library and Information Science and an MS in the History of Art and Design from the Pratt Institute. Her research interests include information literacy instruction, library outreach, student engagement, peer mentorship in academic libraries, and critical librarianship.

Lisa Rose-Wiles the Science Librarian at Seton Hall University Libraries. She holds an MLIS from Rutgers University and a PhD in Biological Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to moving into the library field, she conducted field research on capuchin monkeys in Costa Rica, Argentina and Suriname, and published numerous articles in primate behavioral ecology. Her interests include information literacy, embedded librarianship, philosophy of education and copyright.

Martha Loesch is Co-Head of Technical Services and Assistant Professor at Seton Hall University Libraries. In addition to working with metadata and library related projects, she teaches research instruction, is liaison to the College of Education and Human Services, the Psychology Dept. and the Msgr. Turro Seminary Library. She also manages the Curriculum Collection of Pre-K – Grade 12 instructional materials and young adult literature. Her interests are in student transitions from high school to college, information literacy and technical services related topics.


H. Empowering Students: Classroom Strategies for Teaching Media Literacy and Fake News

Nandi Prince, Assistant Professor, New York Institute of Technology
Lane Glisson,
 Assistant Professor, Borough of Manhattan Community College

Abstract:In today’s climate of partisan rhetoric, with the pervasive use of social media to disseminate news, students can easily experience information overload. This inundation can render students powerless in effectively identifying truthfulness in everyday news stories. This workshop introduces participants to different classroom strategies that help students review and discuss information, specifically fake news. Each presenter shares an active learning method that is useful in any academic classroom setting. Attendees will become acquainted with (1) a visual discussion-based lesson that strengthens students’ critical thinking skills when analyzing the credibility of news stories, (2) a lesson which introduces game based pedagogy using Factitious, an acclaimed interactive fake news game that can be easily added into the classroom.

Learning Outcomes: The learning objectives of these three distinct methodologies are to:

1. Help instructors bring awareness to their students of the disinformation disseminated through news and media outlets

2. Help instructors instill in students the skills necessary to detect fake news

3. Present alternative ways of improving students' information literacy skills

4. Present alternative ways of engaging students in the process of learning how to become confident users of information

Additional Information about Presentation:Each presenter will invite audience participation throughout the session. The interactive components of this presentation will give attendees the opportunity to experience each active learning technique as highlighted by the presenters.
We hope attendees will walk away with
1) concrete plans to implement in a future lesson,
2) an appreciation for varying styles of teaching media literacy and disinformation, and
3) knowledge of specific online games and tools that can be utilized in the classroom.

About the Speaker:  Lane Glisson is an Assistant Professor and E-Learning and Instruction Librarian at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York. With Kelly O. Secovnie, she co-authored the chapter, “Making Library Research Real in the Digital Classroom: A Professor-Librarian Partnership,” in Distributed Learning: Pedagogy and Technology in Online Information Literacy Instruction, edited by Tasha Maddison and Maha Kumaran, Chandos/Elsevier, 2017. Her article “Breaking the Spin Cycle: Teaching Complexity in the Age of Fake News” is forthcoming in the July 2019 issue of portal: Libraries and the Academy, Johns Hopkins University Press.

Nandi Prince is an Assistant Professor at the New York City College of Technology, City University of New York. Her research areas include (1) Dramatic Literature, and (2) instructional practices and student learning. Prior to this position, Prince served as an instructional librarian at the Philips School of Nursing at Mount Sinai and a librarian at St Joseph’s College.

Please contact us at ctinfolit@ctlibraryassociation.org 
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