Category Archives: Instruction

August 3, 2011, 6:12 pm

What can you do to help with troublesome knowledge? Librarians and Threshold Concepts

This summer I’ve really been into Game of Thrones, Mineral, Simon Sinek, Curriculum Mapping, and Threshold Concepts.

I have to thank Steven Bell and Char Booth for their conversations at ALA11 that helped shape my thinking on Curriculum Mapping and a related instructional strategy. I have more to say on that but I’m waiting on my-future-collaborator-on-some-project Char Booth to write a post so I can piggyback with my thoughts.

Librarians & TC
The hottest thing to me right now is the idea of Threshold Concepts. When I found out that this was a code for “troublesome knowledge” I was hooked! These are the big ideas in each discipline that people struggle with for a variety of reasons.

I had a great conversation with a grad student a few weeks ago who is researching Threshold Concepts in relation to the Writing Program on campus. They are looking at it across…

Read More

July 19, 2011, 8:06 pm

Instructionally Adrift? Are instructors letting their students down?

At ALA 2011 Steven Bell turned me on to the book Academically Adrift. He wrote a thoughtful piece on it back in January— I’m a little slow getting a response out.

The gist of it boils down to the notion that students don’t appear to be learning much (academically speaking) during their time away at college—and hence there is some question about the value (and investment) of a college degree.

This is largely based on findings reporting that when students were tested before and after their college years there was little progress in standardized scores, suggesting that the college experience (which of course encompasses more than just courses) does little to advance intellectual development.

Bell points out that there is a lot of finger pointing and I tend to point mine at the K-12 system, which doesn’t prepare people (myself included) for college. However, while watching…

Read More

December 7, 2010, 10:20 am

Levels of Patron Assistance: too much pressure on the top? (another conceptual pyramid)

So the whole pyramid thing… An Assistant Dean turned me on to them. We were talking in my office and he saw my white board– we chatted about the engagement theory and he mentioned that over in Career Services they explored a similar concept based on services. In a nutshell, they offer a hierarchy of services attempting to match different student needs:


A student might come in and need help with a resume. While she might just need a handout describing formatting, she could be directed to a career planning professional. This might be similar to a patron asking where BF637.T5 A45 2001 is located. Rather than giving him a floor plan or directing him to the BF range, it would be like setting up an appointment with a subject librarian.


The sense I got from the Career Services example is that their model is directly tied to expenses. It costs them a lot in terms of salary and time to sit…

Read More

June 13, 2010, 9:43 pm

A glimpse into the future of the classroom: how the Steelcase node will change the way we teach


This week is NeoCon,
the big show in the furniture world. I really hope to make it out there someday
because I want to experience what’s new in the world of design. It would be
cool to check out Stride
and the Vox
this year.


One new product that I am really excited about is the Steelcase
. I hinted about this back
in March
but wasn’t able to reveal anything more at that time. Steelcase
has been really cool about it though and granted me an interview with
Sean Corcorran, Director, Product Development & Marketing,
Education Solutions (and former
IDEO guy.) They also gave me some prototypes and sketches that I can
share. I’m planning to do several posts this week about the node, but for now
let’s take a look at what it’s all about:



My initial reaction was that it
looked kinda cool, but so what. It has the tablet-like arm, which they refer…

Read More

May 25, 2006, 1:47 pm

I like LC but…

Thanks everyone for your interest in this blog.

Why do we make students learn the Library of Congress System? Does knowing that finance books are in the HG’s or that literature is somewhere in the P’s really enhance their lives? When they graduate and move on to the real world, where does the Library of Congress Classification system fit in? Surely not at their public library which probably uses Dewy. And let’s be honest, all the studies show that people use the web, not libraries. I have never met a student with exposure to LC prior to attending college, so why do we force them to learn it? I am not advocating a switch to Dewey, but rather that we just give people what they want… literally.

The Info Lit people are all about teaching students how to identify, evaluate, locate, and use information, but that is subjective. For me, if a student uses a library database (or any other …

Read More