In case you missed it, the Ithaka S+R US Faculty Survey 2012 was recently released. Essentially, it provides a snapshot of the current status of faculty members’ attitudes and practices in higher education. I wanted to share and comment on two things in particular that stood out to me.
Check out each graph below taken from the report, followed by my comments:
Figure 30. Faculty Perception of the Role of Librarians
- 40-60% of faculty view librarians as significant contributors to their students’ learning in terms of helping students find, access and use information sources.
- This tells me that information literacy is considered a significant skill by many faculty.
- 20-30% of faculty view librarians as being principally responsible for developing the research skills their students need. About 40-45% of faculty view themselves as holding the principal responsibility of developing their students’ research skills. According to the report: “This raises significant questions about faculty members’ engagement with library-led information literacy programs.” From my perspective, this is not so significant, and I’ll tell you why:
- The very idea that librarians are “principally responsible” for helping students develop their research skills is unrealistic.
- Here’s the thing: Research skills cannot be taught in isolation – they have to be fully integrated across courses and the curriculum. So, it is not feasible to expect librarians to be principally responsible for teaching research skills.
- Instead, librarians should consider working closely with faculty and instructional designers to develop instructional materials that can be scaffolded into the course (see my post on the interactive syllabus).
- One of the primary purposes of IL instruction in the classroom is to help students make a connection to the library, so that students will actually seek out help in the library.
- This appears to be working, as evidenced in the first two statements on the graph.
- Finally, the results of these survey statements tell me that librarians have made some significant headway in establishing relationships with Humanities faculty. This makes sense considering that most IL instruction occurs in English Composition courses. However, the Sciences faculty should not be ignored. There is great opportunity to partner with Sciences faculty for IL instruction, especially in terms of helping students develop information seeking skills for peer-reviewed materials.
Figure 29: Sources of Instructional Support
- Faculty are more likely to seek instructional support for technology from the library than the teaching center at their institution.
- Not all institutions have teaching centers, which may partially explain these results.
- The vast majority of faculty rely on their own ideas.
- Why is this a problem? And what should be done about it?
- First of all, in institutions that house a teaching center, faculty should ALWAYS be referred to the teaching center first. Instructional support is not the same as technical support (apparently a source of confusion for faculty). Instructional technologists are truly the best resources for pedagogical support of technology.
- Secondly, in institutions where a teaching center is not available, librarians should consider becoming ‘blended’ by taking some courses in instructional design and technology – courses that cover both instructional theory and practice.