LOEX 2015 Conference: Perfecting the Craft of Library Instruction

By: Ngoc-Yen Tran, ACRL-Oregon Member at Large (2013-2015)
Outreach & Student Engagement Librarian, and Manager of the Global Scholars Hall Library Commons, University of Oregon

I don’t know why I don’t attend LOEX very often, but every time that I do, I always ask myself why I don’t go every year because of the innovative ideas and knowledge that I gain by attending. This year’s LOEX conference was held in Denver, Colorado and the theme of the conference, “Perfect Your Craft,” was apropos to the location (craft beer central) and to the current state of library instruction. With the adoption of the Framework for Information Literacy, ideas have been brewing about how to incorporate them into our teaching; it is an exciting opportunity to rethink, reflect, and to refine library instruction pedagogy and practices.

As a teaching librarian, I am always looking for ways to continue to improve and innovate my formal and informal library instruction sessions and skills. Anne-Marie Deitering from Oregon State University (and an ACRL-OR member) was the Friday morning plenary speaker and she kicked off the conference by speaking eloquently about the importance of reflective thinking in our teaching practices. She asked us all to push ourselves to a point where we become uncomfortable and to places where we feel challenged, so that we can better reflect on and to critically evaluate our teaching. It is through this reflective process that we can improve our teaching in order to support student learning and academic success.

Lane Wilkinson from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga had us all reconsidering threshold concepts. In his session, “Reconsidering Threshold Concepts: A Critical Appraisal of the ACRL Framework for Information,” he offered criticism on the usage of threshold concepts as the basis for the Frameworks saying that troublesome knowledge is subjective, disciplines are not unified, and threshold concepts do not work well with interdisciplinarity. He asked what we wanted our students to become once they passed from novice to expert – do we want them to become… librarians?

Librarians from UC San Diego (Crystal Goldman, Amanda Roth, Lia Friedman, and Dominque Turnbow) had me rethinking my negative opinions of library scavenger hunts. They collaborated with their First Year Experience program to build a scavenger hunt using Edventure Builder software where the cost is minimal and all kinds of mobile games could be built using this software. They used instructional design practices and were strategic and thoughtful about the student learning experience in developing their game.

The session, “Teaching Students the “How” and “Why” of Source Evaluation: Pedagogies That Empower Communities of Learning and Scholarship” with Juliet Rumble, Toni Carter and Nancy Noe from Auburn University, had me refining how I teach source evaluation. Three interactive lesson plans were introduced to help students evaluate sources. For example, to teach students about scholarly and popular sources, the focus is in the process. Students are put into groups of 3-4 and given different types of sources for an event. They answer questions in a google form, describing the process of the author and the review or revision process. The instructor brings up the google doc responses and there is a discussion. The last question of the discussion asks the students to think about how the source’s research, review, or revision process affect their use of the source.

These are examples of a couple of the sessions that I attended. The practical nature of most of the sessions allows me to take what I learn from LOEX and to implement it within a day, a week, or a couple of weeks — and indeed, the Monday after the conference, I incorporated some of what I learned into an instruction session for a writing course. I would call that a win and will definitely make it a point to attend the next conference in Pittsburg!

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