Transforming the Research Paper and My Perspective on Participation

In May (insert normal panic about time with some existential questions about purpose), I presented at the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent College’s (LVAIC) Adult Learners Conference with my colleague Eric Hagan, the Director of Distance Education and Instructional Technology and an MBA instructor.  Our presentation, titled Transforming the research paper one step at a time: Scaffolding learning outcomes and assessment, drew a few individuals to the conference and inspired great conversation.

This presentation was inspired by an assignment Eric assigned to his MBA students in his Organizational Management class.  Eric had been assigning a research paper since his first course, and wasn’t getting the results he wanted.  His students did not seem to understand the true nature of the research paper assignment, and were failing at creating an arguable thesis and selecting valuable sources.  This was not the students’ fault.  There were many opportunities for additional instruction to help them successfully complete the requirements of the project.  Eric and I identified these opportunities and took advantage of increased librarian and instructor intervention to communicate information literacy principles based on the Framework.  We even included learning outcomes and assessment measures at each step.

You can check out the slides below.

The content is not revolutionary, but participation in this event confirmed my practice and made me feel like a valued part of the community.   Audience members were excited that our presentation helped them determine if their instruction was on the right track.  And, some participants mentioned that they hadn’t realized that their university librarian might be a partner in teaching the information literacy lessons that are important to conceptualizing and completing a research paper.  This feedback really changed my perspective on sharing my work and leading the conversations in larger scholarly environments.  Initially, I wasn’t very excited about participating in a conference that focused more on marketing and advising adult students than instructing adult students.  But because there was a small audience who did appreciate our participation, I may be overcoming my own impostor syndrome and finding that I can contribute to my scholarly community!

Author: Jess Denke

Assessment and Outreach Librarian at Muhlenberg College

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