Apr 06 2010
Practical Pedagogy for Library Instructors
I have recently been reading Practical Pedagogy for Library Instructors: 17 Innovative Strategies to Improve Student learning edited by Douglas Cook and Ryan L. Sittler and wanted to share a few of my thoughts about it.
I was attracted to this book as I feel that it is important for librarians and information professionals to be aware of and have an understanding of pedagogic issues when involved in information literacy skills sessions / courses / teaching.
It starts with a bit of theory and two major pedaogical paradigms:
- Direct Instruction strategies when you need to present information for students as efficiently and as effectively as possible
- Student-Centered Learning strategies when you want to stress student engagement with learning
It asks the question of “Why should you, as a librarian, be concerned about educational theory and pedagogical practices? and “the short the answer is that how you teach makes a difference in what your students learn” .
The key messages from the first chapter is:
First, decide what you would like your students to learn, and then you can determine how to move your students towards your desired outcome. learning about various educational theories and related teaching strategies can give you the tools you need as an instructor to assist students in reaching your intended learning outcomes.
Begin your lesson planning by deciding whether the learning opportunity calls for Direct Instruction or Student-Centered Learning. Pg 17 & 18
The two pedagogies are discussed at some length but the main strength for me in this chapter is the really useful overview of these laid out in a table. From this you can see that Direct Instruction (Objectivist) is linked to Cognitive and Behavioural theories of learning where knowledge is fixed and needs to be acquired. Very much teacher led. Student-Centered Learning (Constructivist) is linked to Situated and Critical theories of learning where knowledge is constantly changing and is built upon what participants contribute and construct together. Learning is contextual and instructional strategies include life-based projects / life related situations.
In our information literacy advocacy work I certainly recognise more of the later strategy / learning theories as we engage in conversations using examples that are situated within individuals own environment (profession, subject, sector etc.) as information literacy means different things to different people in different environments / situations. When I look at the examples of good information literacy practice / case studies we have collected from our project partners many are student centered however there are elements of direct instruction and the case studies in the book reflects this.
Chapters 2 – 8 cover Direct Instruction examples / case studies
Chapters 9 – 18 cover Student-Centered Learning examples / case studies
The case studies re really interesting and I liked the practical advise within them and that they could be replicated not just within higher education (universities) where they are set but within FE colleges and probably schools. If you are looking for some inspiration then there is lots here.
Practical Pedagogy for Library Instructors: 17 Innovative Strategies to Improve Student Learning. Eds. Douglas Cook and Ryan L. Sittler for the Association of College and Research Libraries. Chicago: American Library Association, 2008. 184 p. alk. paper, $32 (ISBN 9780838984581). LC 2008-8219.