BUILDING STUDENT EMPLOYABILITY THROUGH INTERDISCIPLINARY COLLABORATION: AN AUSTRALIAN CASE STUDY
Serene Lin-Stephens, Josette M. Kubicki, Fiona Jones, Martin J. Whiting, John Uesi & Matthew Bulbert
Given that graduate employment is a clear outcome of education success, there is an urgent need to conceptualize course design strategically to maximize students’ chances of employment. In this paper, we present an Australian case study in which we used a structured career information literacy learning approach to build employabilitiy in a biological sciences capstone course, through collaboration between the university library, academics, and career service. We report the context, method, measurement, outcomes of collaboration, and roles of contributors in this partnership. This case study lends itself to potential ways of incorporating career information literacy into an academic context.
College & Undergraduate Libraries, Volume 26, Issue 3, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1080/10691316.2019.1674027
TWINSETS AND TOOLBELTS – DEVELOPING LIBRARY DATA SKILLS AKA LIBRARY CARPENTRY AT MACQUARIE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY
Grai Calvey, Fiona Jones, Heather Cooper
In 2016 Macquarie University delivered a Data Science and eResearch Platform Strategy to “provide …a foundation of enabling data science and eResearch expertise, systems, policies, technologies and support”. In response to this development, in 2017, the Library embarked on a series of initiatives, including developing workshops, to improve the data skills of all our library staff; to grow confidence when engaging in data science practice, eResearch conversations and the support of researchers in the new paradigm. METHODS
In 2016 a small group of staff began a community of practice approach to the development of data skills. These early adopters were introduced to Library Carpentry lessons: Introduction to Data, OpenRefine, Unix Shell, and GitHub. These lessons were used as the basis for our 2017/2018 workshops. Learning outcomes included the development of a set of core competencies in engaging with, manipulating, analysing and managing data. The Data Skills workshops, along with an online community of practice hub and regular hacky hours, form the foundation for a strategic approach to managing both the support the Library offers researchers, and improving internal data processes and work analysis.
Workshop attendees from across the Library demonstrated competence with the essential elements of data management including data description, file organisation and inputting and extracting information from systems. One benefit of the workshops was the repositioning of known processes as data skills, and the encouragement of staff to build on these skills and understanding. Issues remain in ensuring the further development and maintenance of data skills through practical application.
Future readiness in this new reality of data science requires agility and a willingness to build an understanding and momentum simultaneously, in a field that is rapidly evolving. Strategically, this requires managers to “envision the diverse contexts, opportunities, and benefits in applying data science methods” Burton et al (2018). This includes encouraging library staff to ‘be in the space’, championing those who are, and supporting exploration of data skills and tools.
THETA 2019 The Tipping Point, Wollongong, May 18th to 22nd, 2019.
“IT’S NOT ALL TECHNICAL…”: A PRAGMATIC APPROACH TO ‘SOFT SKILLS’ DEVELOPMENT ACROSS A PROGRAM
Nicholas Tse, Natalie Spence and Fiona Jones
OVERVIEW OF WORKSHOP
The aim of the workshop is to provide insights and practical advice in scaffolding activities and formative feedbacks to developing critical and transferable skills, typically known as soft skills, in a modern engineering degree program. The emphasis of the workshop will be on developing effective learning activities, resources, assessments and feedback mechanisms for the development of transferable professional skills.
Programmatic curriculum design is a necessary phase in the development of an integrated and relevant engineering degree program. The drive for such planning is two-fold: firstly, accreditation through the national body, Engineers Australia, and secondly, to provide the most relevant and future-proofed educational experience for students. While top-down degree planning has been widely adopted in professional degrees such as law and engineering, there is often an over-emphasis on the placement of content-driven topics and an under-emphasis on the development of transferable professional skills. Developing such professional skills requires a detailed scaffolded teaching approach with well-aligned formative feedback and assessments tasks. In practice, however, learning activities are often summative in nature, for example, an end-of-semester presentation. This can leave a student without the resources and opportunities to practice and develop these important skills.
We will address this issue with a pragmatic focus on understanding how to develop the most appropriate learning activity to give students authentic contexts and opportunities to develop critical professional skills. We will investigate the use and scaffolding of appropriate formative feedback throughout the degree program.
An example that demonstrates the use of scaffolded skill development activities is in our first-year engineering program (LeRoux et al, 2015). The embedded skill was in line with academic literacies, more specifically information literacy and academic writing skills. Such skills are typically developed over a few years of university studies. Maturity is generally demonstrated at the latter stages of the engineering program, typically 3rd and 4th years for most students. In recognising that such important skill requires much needed conscious effort and repeated exposures, we have experimented with the integration of the skill development process through several activities in the first-year engineering course. These activities include, lecture presentation, workshop demonstrations and repeated demonstration of the learnt skill being applied in the assignment submissions where the feedbacks are provided via the marking rubrics. This is an example of a pragmatic approach to incorporating scaffolded learning activities for the development of critical and transferable skills.
- Build awareness of programmatic development of critical and transferable skills.
- Consider how effective assessment tasks and feedback can be incorporated into technical content- driven units.
- Explicitly define different stages of competency in the development of these higher-level skills.
LeRoux, M., Jones, F., Tse, N., McGill, D., Safari, A., & Chakraborty, S. (2015). Exploring the effectiveness of a novel teaching approach for information and academic literacies in a first-year engineering unit. In M. Sharma & A. Yeung (Eds.), Proceedings of The Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education (pp. 46-47). Sydney, Australia: UniServe Science.
AAEE 2017 28th Australasian Association for Engineering Education Annual Conference, Manly, December 10th to 13th, 2017
PRACTICING INFORMATION SKILLS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE ENGINEERING CLASSROOM
Fiona Jones, Nicholas Tse, Raymond A’Court, Carmi Cronje
The collaboration between Macquarie University Library and Engineering Department to integrate information and academic literacies into the engineering curriculum, via activity based workshops, was presented at ACSME 2015 (LeRoux, Jones, Tse, McGill, Safari & Chakraborty, 2015). The presentation discussed the need to move library workshops into engineering laboratories to make the program sustainable over the long term and scalable for larger cohorts. To this end, librarians trained tutors to facilitate the learning activities supported by online materials.
After piloting the online content during the second half of 2015, a project was initiated to embed an interactive module into the learning management system. The module, first used in Session 1 2016, included activities that were tied explicitly to a written engineering assessment task and was designed to incorporate formative assessment via quizzes. Summative assessment was achieved via the application of a marking rubric to the assessment task, allowing us to evaluate the success of our intervention in terms of student outcomes.
Evaluation via student surveys indicated positive experiences with the material, and skills quiz results were good. Despite this, analysis of the written assessment task identified gaps in students’ understanding and areas of weakness, particularly when considering the quality of both the information sources cited and the execution of the required referencing style.
This presentation will describe the improvements made to activities and materials during 2016 and 2017, and our evaluation of the effectiveness of these changes.
Delivery of information literacy content is via a blended approach, pairing a lecture delivered by librarians with a practical in the engineering laboratory in which students work through the interactive module under the guidance of tutors. The activities provide students with the opportunity to learn by doing, practicing skills and receiving feedback on their performance before applying the skills to the assessable written task.
The approach to improving the design and delivery of content has been to reflect upon and respond to evidence gathered via surveys, quizzes and assessments, making incremental changes each session.
A turning point in this ongoing project came in Session 2 2016 with the introduction of an “information research process diagram” in the lecture, as a conceptual bridge between engineering and library skills. This innovation was an attempt to build upon students’ existing mental models by closely matching unfamiliar information literacy concepts to the engineering design process. The problem of searching for and evaluating
discipline specific information and using these sources to compose a written task was broken down into a process with specific steps, and a defined workflow.
In addition, the online module was redesigned for Session 1 2017, with the information research process diagram acting as a scaffold for the new design. Lastly, academic teaching staff and librarians collaborated on rewriting the written assessment task.
Marking of the new assessment task is in progress, with the expectation of a demonstrable improvement in the information seeking skills utilised by students, and that these will have application beyond the classroom.
Further improvements planned include: making the writing process more explicit by adding to this component of the module, the creation of bite-sized videos breaking down the lecture material into smaller concepts, and the further analysis of the written assignments using qualitative data analytics tools.
LeRoux, M., Jones, F., Tse, N., McGill, D., Safari, A. & Chakraborty, S. (2015). Exploring the effectiveness of a novel teaching approach for information and academic literacies in a first year engineering unit. In M. Sharma & A. Yeung (Eds.), Proceedings of the Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education 2015, (pp46-47), Sydney, NSW: UniServe Science.
Introduction to the Library Carpentry Toolbox
Carmi Cronje, Fiona Jones
Carmi and Fiona are Research Librarians from Macquarie University Library, and have been experimenting with the tools and methods of the Library Carpentry Toolbox.
Participants will place themselves at the leading edge of library practice, beginning to learn reproducible methods for cleaning and transforming data. They will expand their own digital literacy, gaining confidence to face new frontiers and new challenges working with data. Attendees of this workshop will have the opportunity to try OpenRefine and experiment with its basic functions using library specific examples. By introducing the computational methods and tools of Library Carpentry in a workshop setting, the aim is to break down barriers to participation and build a community around computational approaches to library practice.
Workshop activities include exploring large unstructured datasets – organising, cleaning and standardising inconsistent and messy data. Attendees will begin to see and experience how they can put OpenRefine to work solving a range of messy data problems that they face in real life.
NLS8, Canberra, June 23rd to 25th, 2017.
EXPLORING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF A NOVEL TEACHING APPROACH FOR INFORMATION AND ACADEMIC LITERACIES IN A FIRST YEAR ENGINEERING UNIT
Mariette leRoux, Fiona Jones, Dr Nicholas Tse, Daniel McGill, Azadeh Safari, Sudipta Chakraborty
First year Engineering students tend to lack key information and academic literacy skills, which results in poor writing and language use, the use of a limited range of sources and poor referencing in their assignments.
In the 2014 graduate outlook survey, 48% of graduate employers ranked communication skills as the most important selection criterion when recruiting graduates. Transferable skills are becoming increasingly important, not just to produce a more adaptable work force, but to inspire lifelong students who will continuously learn and improve.
In the Macquarie University Engineering Program these transferable skills are introduced early in the degree using enquiry based methodology in a core first year Engineering unit. Tutors play a pivotal role in this process, facilitating repeated practice and acting as mentors for the students.
To emphasise the importance of information and academic literacy as the first step in educating Engineering students, librarians developed a series of ‘research studios’ based on Baratta, Chong and Foster’s work (2011) which were run during tutorial sessions in week 4 of session 1. As Engineering students typically have active, sensing, inductive and visual learning styles (Young, 2012, p. 22) an activity based approach was used to help students self-discover and practice. This was supplemented with an online language activity created by the learning skills department. The following learning outcomes were addressed:
- recognising when information is needed
- appreciating the relevance of different types of resources for their field
- identifying the most efficient search strategy to locate relevant information of a high standard
- critically evaluating information sources
- using appropriate academic language
- using the correct format of reporting
- referencing correctly and ethically
Over 300 students attended tutorials held in library classrooms. Each ‘research studio’ was held in a different room and facilitated by a different library staff member, with groups of students moving from room to room at the conclusion of each 40 minute session. Library staff members provided short instruction, with most of the tutorial time devoted to hands-on activities, small group work and discussion. A large first year core unit was chosen to pilot this approach in order to be representative of the Engineering student population. Evaluation data shows that all of the activities had positive effects on student learning. The online language activity recorded a high number of hits. Student feedback indicated that the activity-based approach to developing information skills helped to consolidate understanding. Tutor feedback indicated that the quality of assignments submitted following the program was improved over previous sessions.
To facilitate integrating these literacies into the unit, tutors will provide input into reviewing the exercises and will be trained to facilitate the learning activities co-designed by librarians and learning skills specialists in a blended learning format. As there was some feedback that exercises were too easy, the input from tutors will help pitch the training at the appropriate level and also provide valuable subject specific context.
This presentation shares the results of this unique collaboration and its impact on student test results. It will address the information and academic literacy skills that Engineering students require to succeed in their academic and professional endeavours.
Ali, R., Abu Hassan, N., Daud, M. Y. M., & Jusoff, K. (2010). Information literacy skills of engineering students. International Journal of Research and Reviews in Applied Sciences, 5(3), 264-270. Retrieved June 5, 2015, from http://eprints.utm.my/37881/2/IJRRAS_5_3_08.pdf
Baratta, M., Chong, A & Foster, J.A. (2011). The research studio: integrating information literacy into a first year engineering science course. American Society for Engineering Education Conference, Vancouver, Canada. Retrieved June 5, 2015, from http://www.asee.org/public/conferences/1/papers/1407/view
Fosmire, M & Radcliffe, D. (2013). Integrating information into the Engineering design process. West Lafayette, IN.: Perdue University Press. Retrieved June 5, 2015, from http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1030&context=purduepress_ebooks
Lindsay, E. (2015). Graduate outlook 2014: employer’s perspectives on graduate recruitment in Australia. Melbourne, Vic.: Graduate Careers Australia. Retrieved June 5, 2015, from http://www.graduatecareers.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Graduate_Outlook_2014.pdf
Young, S.J. (2012). Engineering. in O’Clair and Davidson, J. (eds) The busy librarian’s guide to information literacy in science and engineering. Chicago, IL: Association of College and Research Libraries
Proceedings of the Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education, Curtin University, Sept 30th to Oct 1st, 2015, pages 46-47, ISBN Number 978-0-9871834-4-6.
The Producers: rethinking roles to create an in-library production team
Emma Lawler, Fiona Jones
In 2013, Macquarie University Library created an Information Literacy (IL) Support and Development team. One of the major outputs of this team is the creation of new IL content in-house. This ‘production team’ learnt on-the-job with each new assignment, taking advantage of opportunities to be trained by experts on campus and developing production skills and the sophistication of tools used and products created. The multimedia and video content created is part of a larger collection of activities and tools designed to support the research, teaching and learning needs of our large and diverse client base.
Training in the use of multimedia technologies and software was crucial to the success of this approach. Building on existing internal partnerships with the University’s Learning and Teaching Centre allowed us to draw on internal expertise for staff training. Our partners provided guidance in educational design, video production and equipment such as cameras and lighting.
Also fundamental was dedicating time to ‘create’. It was essential to allow the team, more familiar with service roles, to experiment and gradually improve their production skills. Balancing the time needed with frontline service commitments was a challenge that required support from Library management and our colleagues.
Producing video and multimedia content is a far cry from traditional process-driven library roles. We hope to inspire delegates to apply creative and collaborative approaches to IL in their own context by sharing our experience and how we learnt to be open to constructive criticism, became increasingly collaborative and confident in learning and applying new ideas and skills.
LILAC15, Newcastle University, April 8th to 10th, 2015.