Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Testing web cell phone "clickers"

We are testing out Polleverywhere.com to use as an activity with our Freshman Orientation.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Interesting article on assessment

Our Assistant Vice President (library director) forwarded me this article recently: What Are They Learning? Pre- and Post-Assessment Surveys for Libr 1100, Introduction to Library Research" by Jon Robert Hufford. It's from College and Research Libraries preprint articles page, which incidentally has a feed.

It's an article about the experience of a group of Texas Tech librarians who administered a pre- and post-test to their library research course. Although our situation is a bit different in several significant ways, I found it very helpful, and very much wish I might have had a chance to read it before we got started in our assessment efforts.

  • Elapsed time--from what I understand, they tested their students at the beginning and at the end of a semester. In our assessment, we pre- and post-test one shot classes at the beginning and the end of class. Although ours is different, its very illuminating to compare results of a semester-long class as opposed to a 50 minute session.

  • There is a useful literature review in the beginning, though elsewhere the author laments the fact that there are not many articles written in the literature on this particular subject, and near the end of the article encourages other people to contribute with their experiences.

They included an analysis of their questions and the responses, which was also highly useful.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Assessment fun with clickers; and mobile phone clickers too

And welcome back from the hiatus--I don't know where the semester went! Please forgive the retro-post, getting back into the saddle and finishing up some of the posts I started and didn't quite publish!

We are continuing to focus on our assessment efforts. We have our big assessment project involving first year English composition students. We crunched the numbers with that and also going forward with revising our tests again. I will save that for a later post, but we did do our first pilot assessment using our Senteo/Synchroneyes clicker software and equipment as part of our continuing efforts to extend assessment into other classes. We are targeting next our Freshman Seminar classes.

I am looking forward to trying this out. I did not personally do the pilot clicker assessment but my colleague indicated that he felt it went very well. It was a simple post-test consisting of three questions, given at the end of the instruction session. I can say that I handled the statistics for the class. Synchroneyes/Senteo has a very decent system for results--they come out in a neat graph with basic statistics like class average and percentage answering correctly in an Excel file.

The only drawback is that the statistics do not appear to be cumulative, and so to extend this to all our other Freshman Seminar classes we'd have to evolve a system to name each Excel file with the name of the librarian, class, and possibly date or time, and then save in a shared folder. And then later if I wanted to add up the statistics for all the students taking that post-test, I would have to combine the Excel files....

If anyone out there has used Synchroneyes/Senteo and has a better approach, please please do let me know!

Another intriguing development is the use of web-based software so mobile phones/smartphones can be used as clickers. (an example would be Polleverywhere) I did a very desultuory search on Google and there were a few links. One of the things that came to mind immediately as a possible use for this technology would be our massively large Freshman Orientation sessions.

The fall orientations usually last 3 days, working about 3000 students in batches throughout the day. We generally show them several videos, and the last few years we have given them a paper "quiz" which we collect at the end of the session. It's quite rough to tabulate so many "quizzes" and so it seems having the students vote on the answers to various simple questions tied to the outcomes for this orientation, with a chart displayed on the big screen of the teaching theater where the orientation sessions happen would bring a welcome sense of interactivity to the library portion.

I am not quite sure given the scale of this orientation, that it might work well, but it's definitely an interesting idea..........:) and one I hope might come to pass eventually.

Monday, April 20, 2009

ACRL 2009 - the assessment sessions

Hello. I am back with more about some of the sessions I attended at ACRL. The last post was about some useful technology for researching and creative instruction ideas. This post will cover assessment topics that were presented at ACRL 2009 in Seattle.

I attended the Fishing for Information: Using Focus Group Research to Discover Student Perceptions of Library Services and Resources The presenters, Rebecca Byrum and William Wearefrom from Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana had 3 volunteers from the audience pretend to be their example focus group to demonstrate the methods used for a focus group study. The presentation was active rather than passive since they were using the same type of questions for the volunteers as they did for their original focus group. The original focus group was conducted to find out what the students needs were in the library.

They pointed out some good things to know when you are planning a focus group study:
  • Need to get and oral and written consent from the participants
  • Names of participants should not be revealed
  • Let participants know that results will be used for presentation
  • Make participants feel comfortable, so they will be honest
  • Use clear simple questions
Here they types of questions they suggested to use:
  1. Intro Question
  2. Transition Question
  3. Key Question - grade certain characteristics of topic (report card)
  4. Discussion of report card - Allow participants to drive questions, e.g. "Are there any other categories that you would like to assign a grade to?"
  5. Open question - "Do you have anything else you want to say or tell us?"
  6. Ending Questions - Summary, "Have we missed anything?"
Summarize the results and you have done a qualitative study that you can use to improve your services with. Thanks for the good practical assessment ideas!

More on assessment in the next post.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

ACRL 2009 in Seattle, Washington

It has been about a month since ACRL 2009 in Seattle but spring break was right after the conference and it takes a little time for all that I learn and see to sink in. I thought the conference overall was very well organized and engaging. I was very pleased about the green theme and happy to see the green practices being followed through with during the conference.

The location of the conference was excellent since it was in the beautiful waterfront city of Seattle. I did see the famous Seattle Public Library and was quite amazed and the modern architecture and design of the building. There were many patrons busy using the resources when I went in to tour it. Below is a photo I took of the "Living Room" area on the the 3rd floor of the Seattle Public Library.

I attended a little bit of all the different types of presentations. I saw a couple of Cyber Zed Shed presentations which were 20 minute presentations about how libraries are using different new technologies. Nedra Peterson, the Director of Woodbury Library in Burbank California, had great ideas to make instruction classes more engaging and memorable by using video or audio clips from popular movies or songs that reference research related topics. Her presentation was called Popculture Multi-Media and Library Instruction.

She pointed out that the emotions invoked by the media clips can help students identify with the content you are presenting which will help them remember it better. She mentioned using clips from the movie School of Rock, the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and a music clip from a Green Day song. Now hopefully I can keep my eyes and ears open and be as creative as Nedra is about finding research related clips to use for my library instruction classes. Thanks for the great ideas!

Another Cyber Zed Shed presentation I saw was iMacros presented by Todd Quinn at Northern State University. iMacros extension is a very efficient Firefox extension that you can use to create a series of search steps into one click. Or in other words, it is a little program to perform repetitive, multi-step tasks on your browser. Quinn said you could use it as a poor librarians federated search. iMacros that you make can also be bookmarked on your computer or on sites like delicious and shared with others. This handout has a link to the Firefox iMacros extension and other important info to get you started using iMacros. Also, Quinn's LibGuide page at Northern State has a list of other useful tools he has presented about at other conferences. Thanks Todd!

See you all in my next post when I talk about some of the contributed and invited papers as well as panel discussions I attended at the ACRL 2009 conference.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Interesting Second Life educational activity

Time to play catch up. :) The semester started with a bang! and in the slight break in the business that I have had, I'd like to share an interesting experience I had in Second Life, a month or so ago. In addition to my librarian/IL duties, I am also part of the group developing and steering our Second Life campus. I participated in a test learning activity, designed by one of the other members of our group, Robyn Herry. I have to admit at first I was slightly skeptical, when presented with a scenario that involved the kidnapping of an Avatar character, and then the need to solve several puzzles to get clues to be able to find out where to locate and rescue the kidnapped character.

We were assembled in world, on our Second Life campus, and given the first "clue" which linked us to the evil genius' MySpace page. I was lucky to have the game designer there helping and giving clues, because otherwise it might have been a little too hard for me. But what was fascinating was the use of outside webpages along with the in-world element. This lesson appeared to be about codes and code breaking--I had to figure out to highlight the myspace page to get the code sequence to find out the name of a clue (using the letters of the people on the friends list) , go to another website, and use the decoded phase as a password to get the next set of directions. and then from there I flew in world to a statue to figure out the next sequence. I had to google the name of the code, and then use the chart to try to begin to decode for the next set of clues. Unfortunately this is as far as I got after an hour, but I can begin to see the potential for educational activities using Second Life without having to build major structures. I admit it was quite fun too, because after the first 15 minutes or so I felt very involved and motivated to solve the puzzle.

On the whole it was a really cool experience and I think I would like to try to do something similar for our classes eventually.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

ACRL Assessment Immersion notes part one

I had the very good fortune to have attended the ACRL Assessment Immersion in Nashville, TN the past 4 days, and I must say it has really been exceedingly helpful. I had attended an Immersion for Teaching a few years back, and found it was a very important experience in terms of my development as a teacher.

And my expectations were pretty much exceeded in regards to the amount of useable information that I will be taking back with me. Our Teachers/Leaders are Anne Zald, Deb Gilchrist, Megan Oakleaf, and Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe.

The only hard part of immersion is the gruelling schedule, which goes from 8.30 in the morning to 9pm at night (with meals and breaks of course). But as an experience for someone who will be doing assessments, in terms of what you learn, and how you learn it, it is literally the best thing you can do to get a thorough balanced overview and also practical tools.

I am snatching a few moments in our final day to note a few things that pop up in my head, but probably when i have more time to reflect and collect my thoughts, I should have a little more.

One of the main revelations for me was learning of the existence of database/assessment collection/data management systems like Zoho, which appears to be a Google docs like version of Access. This is definitely something I'd like to look at for our library.

So, we are about to do an activity, so I will wrap this up for now. :)