Learning Outcome Profiles

I was very fortunate to attend a session titled “The Other L.O.: Limiting Outcomes” as part of the Academic Libraries Association of Ohio (ALAO) Instruction Interest Group/Assessment Interest Group 2016 workshop in April. Besides giving lots of good advice for helping librarians constructively restrict the number of learning outcomes they agree to address in a one-shot session, the presenter, Melissa Engleman, also gave us a very handy template for understanding and planning to teach a learning outcome. The template, which I’m calling a profile, allows the instruction librarian to describe appropriate activities and assessments for that learning outcome, as well as a reasonable amount of time necessary to teach it. This profile can be shared with faculty as a way to help them understand the amount of time necessary to fully introduce a learning outcome, and it can serve as an organizing or brainstorming tool for the librarian during the instructional design process.

I recently spent a fair amount of time developing information literacy outcomes specifically for music students based on the ACRL Framework (see more about my presentation at ALAO 2015 here). I wondered what it would be like to develop these learning outcomes using the learning outcomes profile that Melissa gave us. Not only did I find the activity very helpful and interesting, I realized that breaking down learning outcomes in this way might be useful for others.

So in the next few weeks, I’d like to share with you some of my learning outcome profiles in the hopes that you’ll find them useful and become inspired to share your own ideas in the comments below. Here’s the first one–enjoy!

Frame: Scholarship is a Conversation

Learning Outcome: Students will be able to identify the contribution that particular articles, books, and other scholarly works make to disciplinary knowledge over time.

Base Time: 30-50 minutes

Why is this learning outcome important?

Students who understand research materials in context can better use them as evidence or support, understand the complex history of an issue, and evaluate claims regarding that issue.

Key Points:

  • Scholars are contributing to an ongoing discussion about particular issues within their field of study.
  • There is disagreement among scholars about disciplinary topics.
  • Consensus within a field of experts may change over time.

Primary Strategy/Activity

Students are asked to choose an article and trace it backward (what articles/books does it cite?) and forward (what articles or books cite it?). Students then reflect on how the argument has changed over time and what influence the original work may have had on the overall scholarly conversation.

Other Strategies

  • Do the primary activity above but using a “scholarly tree” or a concept map.
  • Ask students to find an example of a scholar refuting or challenging the voice of another scholar. Have the student find the work of the other scholar and compare.
  • Have the student find a reference to a study in a popular magazine article. Ask the student to track down the study and compare its thesis to the title or premise of the magazine article.

Subject-Specific Tailoring

  • Use a particularly important article or book in the discipline as an example (perhaps ask the faculty member for advice in choosing it).
  • Use the activity as an opportunity to point out important journals or databases for that discipline.

Real-World Application

When students encounter information in popular media/social media, they will better understand that a complex, expert-driven discussion may underlie the issue and will better be able to explore that discussion.

Potential Assessments

  • A handout or completed “scholarly tree.”
  • A reflection about the changing nature of a particular scholarly conversation.

Use of Technology

  • Concept mapping software to make a “scholarly tree” like MindMup, Mindomo, or bubbl.us
  • A chart tool like LucidChart to make a “scholarly tree”
  • A Scoop.It board of relevant articles traced from a single article

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