An article in the April 4, 2016 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education reported on the new Ithaka Report, a 2015 study on faculty attitudes regarding scholarship, publishing and student research skills. This study has been done at regular intervals since 2000. One of the highlights of the 2015 report is that the number of scholars who think libraries help students “develop research, critical analysis, and information literacy skills” is up 20 percentage points from 2012.” 20% is a pretty good leap in 3 years.
Inside Higher Ed reported:”Faculty members are showing increasing interest in supporting students and improving their learning outcomes, and say the library can play an important role in that work, a new study found.” [Emphasis added.] This is a major shift in faculty attitudes from previous years. In the past, while a large percentage of library directors saw a role for the library in teaching critical thinking and information literacy, the faculty did not. So, this is a shift in a very good direction. I hope that if there were members of our faculty who responded to this survey, they were supportive of the instruction efforts of the liaison librarians.
It is important to give credit where credit is due. The Instruction and Research Librarians have been putting a lot of time and energy into making improvements in our first year course instruction, as well as mid-level course instruction. Their work on consultations, meeting individually with students, has grown dramatically. Efforts to increase student understanding of proper citations and plagiarism have led to several productive meetings with individual departments which ultimately benefit students as well as faculty.
The recent GERC report on the first year course has recommended that we “stay the course.” But we are also aware that there are some faculty members who would like to see changes in the library instruction program for the first year course. We’d like to hear from you. What changes would you like to see? What isn’t working for your department? What could we do to improve the library component to make it work for every department? If you have thoughts to share, please use the comment feature or contact me directly. The liaison librarians will be meeting this month to talk about the GERC report and discuss the first year session, so your thoughts would be informative for their discussions.
As always, we welcome your thoughts and comments and if you are interested, you’ll find the full Ithaka Report here.