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Meet the TATIL Advisory Board: Lyda McCartin

Photo of Lyda McCartin
Lyda McCartin with Cliff (big) and Chai (tiny). Lyda is Professor and Head of Information Literacy & Undergraduate Support at University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado, USA.

Meet Lyda McCartin, a member of the Advisory Board for the Threshold Achievement Test for Information Literacy in 2017. Here she shares her thoughts about teaching, assessment, and mentorship.

Q: Please tell us about your job. What do you find most satisfying?

Lyda: As Head of Information Literacy & Undergraduate Support (ILUS) at University of Northern Colorado, I lead a department of three full-time faculty, one 9-month lecturer, and one full-time administrative staff person. Two of ILUS’ strategic initiatives focus on information literacy -  The Core Library Instruction Program (CLIP) and the Credit Course Program. The CLIP  integrates information literacy into large-scale undergraduate programs including Composition and First Year Experience. The Credit Course Program includes seven courses plus internships and directed study. All courses are embedded into a degree-granting program or are required for an academic program. For example, LIB 160 is required for Criminal Justice majors while LIB 151 is required for students in the honor’s program. We’ve also developed online information literacy modules that faculty can use to embed information literacy into their courses; this is a new initiative that we are just now getting off the ground.

I also serve as a liaison to the Criminology & Criminal Justice department so I am involved in faculty and student outreach on a smaller scale as well as collection development. Additionally I have a campus role as Senior Faculty Assessment Fellow. I’ve served as Senior Fellow for two year and have been an Assessment Fellow for seven years. In this role I provide professional development on course and program assessment for faculty across campus.

I love my job because of the variety. The department works on one-shot curriculum and assessment as well as credit-course development and assessment. This requires us to think differently about how we approach teaching in different contexts. Additionally, as the department leader, I get the opportunity to mentor junior faculty through tenure and promotion and work with them on scholarship. I also get to work with early-career librarians on pedagogy and assessment practice. I find this teaching/mentoring to be the most rewarding part of my job.

Q: Please tell us about a project you are currently working on.

Lyda: I just finished a large project, a co-authored book on critical-inclusive assessment practice. My co-author (Rachel Dineen) and I are now developing presentations around the book for the 2019 conference season. You’ll find us at the International Conference on Learning in Belfast, UK in July 2019!

I am also starting the dissertation process where I am exploring April Cunningham’s Grounded Theory of Paradox and the Potential for Play from a four-year institution perspective. Specifically I am interested in if the tensions in community college library work exist in four-year institutions, how they differ (if at all), and how deference behavior may be used as a play strategy for academic librarians.

Q: Do you teach? How has your approach to teaching changed since you started your career?

Lyda: I get to teach one-shot and credit courses. Over time the number of one-shots I teach has gone down for two reasons: (a) we’ve streamlined a lot of our one-shot teaching and these are taught mainly by our lecturer and (b) my liaison area has a required credit course so there are less one-shot requests. Typically I teach one credit course/semester. Additionally, through my work as assessment fellow, I teach workshops on assessment practice to faculty across campus.

My teaching over the past 13 years has become more student-centered. Years ago I shifted to problem-based learning in my credit courses; students select a topic and then select a problem within that topic, and use research to develop a solution. This is a successful model in a field like Criminology & Criminal Justice as there are identifiable problems in all aspects of that profession. Students have used their research skills to develop full programs for helping juvenile offenders or for reducing police officer stress.

The other major shift we’ve made in the department is moving courses to co-requisites with a course in an academic department. For example, LIB 160: Criminal Justice Library Research, is a co-requisite with CRJ 380, a research methods course where students develop a study. These courses are connected and the LIB course provides the research foundation for the CRJ course. We are doing a similar thing with our new course, LIB 180: History Library Research.

Q: How is your library approaching the Framework?

Lyda: Within the department, we’ve been discussing the Framework since ACRL asked for feedback on the first draft. We used the Framework to develop new student learning outcomes for our credit course program; an overview of that process can be found in C&RL News.

The library constituted a task force to follow a similar process for one-shot instruction learning outcomes. We’ve also had professional development for all liaisons where we discussed one Frame per workshop and discussed application of the Frame to our teaching and outreach. I believe these workshops were helpful in introducing everyone to the Framework.

Q: What types of information literacy assessment have you done?

Lyda: We’ve used lots of methods for assessing information literacy. For our one-shot teaching we implement one-minute evaluations and also embed formative assessment into the session activities so that we can see where students are in their learning during the session. An overview of early one-shot assessment can be found in the LOEX Quarterly.

Another way we’ve assessed one-shots is with focus groups and surveys. For the focus groups we met with students and instructors in the Composition program. I think focus groups are a great way to learn about student and instructor needs, but we did not get the turn-out we’d hoped for. If we do them again we will collaborate with one or two instructors to meet with their classes to ensure we have good participation. The surveys have proved helpful in getting student feedback (although we do collaborate with the first year experience program so the course instructors send out the survey multiple times, which helps with the return rate). We’ve done post session and post assignment surveys, and found that the post-assignment surveys are the most helpful.

Rubrics are another way we’ve assessed information literacy. While time consuming, this process was enlightening for us in terms of student skills level and we used the data to make significant changes to one-shot curriculum. A brief overview of this can be found in a presentation from LILAC 2018.

The newest assessment initiative is using signature assignments for our credit course program, which I discuss in more detail in a previous TATIL blog post. Our signature assignments include concept maps, student writing, and final assignments such as annotated outlines, posters, and lightening talks.

Q: Have you used the Threshold Achievement Test for Information Literacy? 

Lyda: My department used TATIL during the field testing phase and provided extra credit to students in our courses for taking the test. Students commented that the test questions reflected course content, which was fantastic to learn!

My campus now has an Institutional Learning Outcome with an info lit focus. As a member of the university Assessment Council I plan to discuss TATIL as an option for campus-wide student assessment.

Q: Please tell us about a recent professional development activity that you participated in that you found to be valuable. What was it and how was it valuable to you?

Lyda: The most significant professional development I currently participate is a departmental monthly development meetings. These meetings came from a desire on the part of the faculty in my department to gain more knowledge about learning theory. For the first semester of the meetings we read a book on adult learning theory. We just finished reading Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck and next semester we are reading It’s Not About Grit by Steven Goodman. These meetings provide an opportunity to think about theory and work to connect that theory to our practice.

Q: Why did you join the TATIL Advisory Board?

Lyda: I attended a presentation discussing TATIL results at the 2017 Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Conference. Based on the discussions of how the TATIL was developed I wanted my department to be involved in the next pilot testing phase. It is unlike other standardized tests and I like that students are really made to think through the questions and scenarios. I joined the Advisory Board really because I wanted to be a part of it and help promote this particular instrument.