Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Here at the d'Alzon Library, we try to keep up with the latest news related to student learning, information or digital literacy, and resource evaluation.

Each month, we'd like to share with you some of our favorite recent reads. Enjoy!



Information Literacy in the Sciences: Faculty Perception of Undergraduate Student Skill. By Heather Brodie Perry. College & Research Libraries vol. 78 no. 7. 2017. 
Interviews of teaching faculty in the sciences from several Boston-area colleges provide insights into faculty perceptions of student research skills.  Students' inability to effectively evaluate sources was among the most common concerns.

Accessibility for Justice: Accessibility as a Tool for Promoting Justice in Librarianship. By Stephanie Rosen. In the Library With the Lead Pipe: An Open Access, Open Peer Reviewed Journal. November 29, 2017.
A discussion of the limitations of "diversity" initiatives, and suggested use of "accessibility" rhetoric to better describe ongoing efforts to ensure equity in access to information and library services.

Consumers and Curators: Browsing and Voting Patterns on Reddit. By Maria Glenski, Corey Pennycuff, and Tim Weninger. IEEE Transactions on Computational Social Systems vol. 4 no. 4. December 2017.
Study found Reddit users usually do not view an article before upvoting/downvoting it.  Data supports ongoing need for a critical eye when considering crowd-sourced ratings of information sources.

Prepare for the New Paywall Era. By Alexis C. Madrigal. The Atlantic. November 30, 2017. 
As content distributors (i.e., Google, Facebook) see the majority of ad revenue, content generators (newspapers) take another look at paywalls.

Practicing Digital Literacy in the Liberal Arts: A Qualitative Analysis of Students' Online Research Journals. By Jennifer Jarson and Lora Taub-Pervizpour. Journal of Interactive Technology & Pedagogy. May 24, 2017.
Describes an undergraduate course in which students are required to create an online photo journal to document their research process.  The assignment is intended to help students analyze and synthesize sources, and reflect on their roles as both producers and consumers of information.

The Black Box Problem. By Barbara Fister. Barbara Fister: Librarian, Writer, Friendly Curmudgeon. November 16, 2017. 
Librarian Barbara Fister, long an advocate for teaching information literacy, wonders how to help students decide what is reliable information.  Many of the old formulas no longer work and even trained historians have difficulty evaluating information efficiently.

 Academic Journal Publishing is Headed for a Day of Reckoning. By Patrick Burns. The Conversation: Academic Rigor, Journalistic Flair. November 5, 2017.
Patrick Burns, Dean of Libraries at Colorado State University and author of this article writes: "Access to journals is crucial for how researchers do their work.  But few research libraries can afford all the journal subscriptions needed by all of their faculty for all occasions.  As the dean of libraries at a state school, I contend that the economic model for academic journal publications is broken."


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

During the summer, incoming first-year students were asked to take a survey meant to evaluate their information literacy skills.  This survey was developed by academic librarians and is freely shared with other institutions.  We chose 16 questions from the available question bank to help us measure students’ familiarity with a variety of information literacy skills. The survey was administered through the students’ summer Brightspace course and was promoted by Dean Morrison.  Ultimately, 314 students responded, approximately 64% of the total number of first-year students.

When we compare the results to the learning objectives and assessment rubrics in our Teaching Information Literacy for Faculty guide, we find that most of the results indicate that students’ skills are in the Developing (Level 1) to Competent (Level 2) range. There are few results indicating that students have Strong (Level 3) skills. However, there are often wide variations within a section.  For example, within the Search and Find section, students were surprisingly good at recognizing the best set of keywords to use for a research topic, but fewer understood what kind of results would come up if they put a name in the author field of a database.  














Another area of particular weakness seems to be understanding the elements of a citation.















Interestingly, students scored well (83%) on the two questions related to plagiarism.  However, we know that recognizing the definitions of plagiarism and paraphrasing is different from knowing how and when to cite in order to prevent plagiarism.

For more information about the survey results, see the Teaching Information Literacy for Faculty research guide.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Here at the d'Alzon Library, we try to keep up with the latest news related to student learning, information or digital literacy, and resource evaluation.

Each month, we'd like to share with you some of our favorite recent reads. Enjoy!



Should College Professors Give 'Tech Breaks' in Class? By Barbara J. King. New England Public Radio: Cosmos & Culture. October 19, 2017.
This somewhat provocative piece from NPR puts forth the idea, "Should professors provide students with a one-minute tech break in the classroom to check and send messages on their phone?"

How People Approach Facts and Information. By John B. Horrigan. Pew Research Center: Internet & Technology. September 11, 2017.
This report is based on a fall 2016 survey involving over 3,000 US adults.  The findings suggest that people deal in varying ways with tensions about what information to trust and how much they want to learn.  Some people are interested and engaged with information; others are wary and stressed.

The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online. By Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie. Pew Research Center: Internet & Technology. October 19, 2017.
In summer 2017, Pew Research Center and Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center conducted a large survey of technologists, scholars, practitioners, and strategic thinkers, asking them whether the quality and veracity of information online will improve in the next ten years.

ResearchGate: Publishers Take Formal Steps to Force Copyright Compliance. By Robert Harington. The Scholarly Kitchen: What's Hot and Cooking in Scholarly Publishing. October 6, 2017.
A coalition of large publishing companies announced this month that they will begin issuing take-down notices for content shared on the website ResearchGate that violates copyright.  There are currently as many as 7 million copyrighted articles freely and illegally available on ResearchGate, most contributed by authors who did not realize they were violating copyright.

The Enduring Power of Print for Learning in a Digital World. By Patricia A. Alexander and Lauren M. Singer. The Conversation: Academic Rigor, Journalistic Flair. October 3, 2017.
Studies show students prefer reading digital texts; they read faster, and comprehend the main idea just as well as they do for a print text.  However, when asked specific questions about a text, student who read it in print scored significantly better than those who read it online.

Student Writing in the Digital Age. By Anne Trubek. JSTOR Daily: Where News Meets Its Scholarly Match. October 19, 2016.
Here is a blog post about a study done comparing writing mistakes of college students over the last 100 years.  Some of the results are surprising and challenge what we think we know about student writing.  The bibliography has additional interesting articles.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Pre-Columbian Artifacts to be Displayed Soon!

Librarians typically work with documents (printed, handwritten, digital) and with visual materials, such as photographs, but rarely with 3-dimensional objects. Therefore, a box purported to be pre-Columbian artifacts from Mexico, received as a gift from former Assumptionist priest Michael Carey around 2006, was a puzzle to be solved, but not within the expertise level of any of our staff. Over the years we explored the possibility of identifying a museum professional who might provide guidance on authenticating this collection and on how to move forward with cataloging and displaying it. No easily available expertise was obvious to us.


Then last year, while cataloging an Honors thesis, Liz Maisey realized that we have an expert right here on campus. Within a couple of hours of hearing from us about the Michael Carey collection, Professor Mark Christensen was in the library. We opened the box and started unwrapping what turned out to be 23 pieces of authentic pre-Columbian artifacts. Most of them date from 300BC to 350AD.

Mark suggested the purchase of three books that could help more closely identify the artifacts, and he subsequently set out to catalog the various pieces and describe a context for viewers of the collection. The objects include pottery, human figures, pieces in the form of animals, musical instruments, and tools, most of them made from clay, but a few from metal.

The collection is nearly ready to be displayed in the first level wall cases in the Tsotsis Family Academic Center. Mark has collaborated with his History Department staff, Art Department faculty, and library staff to prepare this exhibit. Look for it in the cases in the next couple of weeks.

We are very excited about the exhibit and hope that you will be too!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Here at the d'Alzon Library, we try to keep up with the latest news related to student learning, information or digital literacy, and resource evaluation.

Each month, we'd like to share with you some of our favorite recent reads. Enjoy!




Rethinking Literacy Skills in a Digital World.  United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  September 8, 2017.
International Literacy Day took place on September 8th, with the focus this year on "Literacy in a Digital World."  More than 200 stakeholders from around the world met for a conference in Paris to discuss and examine what kind of literacy skills people need to navigate increasingly digitally-mediated societies.

Information Underload. By Mike Caulfield. Hapgood.  July 19, 2017.
The author suggests that our most advanced technologies should be focused on the creation of quality information, rather than the organization of existing information.  The advancement of search algorithms and related tools will do little good if the quality and frequency of our research diminishes.

High-Impact Practices Help Students Succeed During University Expansion. Association of American Colleges & Universities. May 2017.
This case study presents how Texas A&M-San Antonio used high-impact practices to help first-generation and minority first-years to succeed in their college careers. The HIPs used were focused on service and experiential learning. The methods used are applicable to any demographic of first year students.

Perspectives - Mythbusting the Skills Gap. AAC&U News. May 2017.
This article discusses several recent studies and opinion pieces that urge a reframing of the response to the "skills gap" problem.

OPINION: Students Can't Repay Loans Without Jobs - Here's How to Navigate the 'Last Mile' from Diploma to Employment. By Matt Sigelman. The Hechinger Report. March 13, 2017.

The author, CEO of an employment analytics firm, argues that a skills gap does exist, just not in the way that educators and employers fear.  He writes that students are "leaving school with a valuable set of skills but often lack that last specific skill or two that can clinch the first job.  Too many students are almost qualified - and almost isn't good enough."

Post-Truth, False News, and Information Literacy. By William Badke. Online Searcher: Information Discovery, Technology, Strategies. Volume 41, Number 4. July/August 2017.
The author provides a brief discussion of the fake news landscape and attempts to address it.

Finding Quality Free Images. By Jennifer E. Burke. Marketing Library Services. Volume 31, Number 4. July/August 2017.
The author provides some alternatives to Flickr for free photos in the public domain.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

How Can We Help You?

It's hard to believe, but a new academic year is already here.  As you plan for the coming semester, we'd like to remind you of the many services we provide to you and your students. 


Could your entire class benefit from some library instruction, customized to address the specific needs of your course assignment?  Consider scheduling a Library Instruction Session by contacting Phil Waterman, Head of Research Support Services.  A Research Services librarian can visit your classroom or host your class in the library, and provide your students with the tools and skills they need to succeed.  Topics might include database selection, website evaluation, citation management, search strategies, or any other topic related to locating, evaluating, using, and sharing information.  Suggestions for new instruction topics are always welcome!




Individual Research Appointments can be easily scheduled with our online appointment calendar.  Students can select a weekday and time that is convenient for them to sit down one-on-one with a Research Services librarian.  They may schedule an appointment a month or a single day in advance!  Appointments typically last 30 minutes, but may be longer or shorter depending on the need.






This year, we have implemented a new Personal Librarian Program, specifically for our first year students.  Each student has been assigned to a "Personal Librarian" who will reach out to them periodically, through a library BrightSpace course, to provide advice and research tips. Students are invited to contact their Personal Librarian for help and were introduced to them during their orientation. The Personal Librarian will also be conducting a library workshop for their students during a Common Hour period, in collaboration with the faculty of their COMPASS Learning Communities.


Students can contact a Research Services librarian through email, phone, or our Online Chat Service.  This helpful chat invitation will appear whenever a person lingers on the library website pages. Students can click the box to chat instantly with a librarian. Generally, the online chat is available during the same hours as our Research Help Desk (see below). Chat boxes also appear in most online Research Guides and a select number of databases.



Students can also visit the Research Help Desk in person, located on the first floor of the library, to get personalized assistance without an appointment.  The desk is staffed six days a week, including weekend and evening hours.  Mondays-Thursdays (11:00am-9:00pm), Fridays (11:00am-3:00pm), and Sundays (11:00am-7:00pm).


Have a question or a suggestion for other ways to reach our students?  Let Us Know!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Here at the d'Alzon Library, we try to keep up with the latest news related to student learning, information or digital literacy, and resource evaluation.

On the first of each month, we'd like to share with you some of our favorite recent reads. Enjoy!








Wakefulness and Digitally Engaged Publics. By Ian O'Byrne. Hybrid Pedagogy: A Digital Journal of Learning, Teaching, and Technology. April 12, 2017.
This article argues that academics must be conscious and vigilant as they move within public digital spaces and that they have a responsibility to serve as "public intellectuals" that educate, empower, and advocate for others. The author declares that the boundaries of scholarship must expand into the rest of the world, stating "we must make intellectual work accessible, and accessible work intellectual."

Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science. Edited by Rajiv Jhangiani and Robert Biswas-Diener. Ubiquity Press. 2017.
"Affordable education. Transparent Science. Accessible scholarship.  These ideals are slowly becoming a reality thanks to the open education, open science, and open access movements.  Running separate - if parallel - courses, they all share a philosophy of equity, progress, and justice.  This book shares the stories, motives, insights, and practical tips from global leaders in the open movement."

'Let Me Learn' or 'Just the Answer'? Research Consultations and Dweck's Theories of Intelligence. By Amanda L. Folk, Kelly Bradish Safin, and Anna Mary Williford. Paper presented at the Association of College and Research Libraries Conference, Baltimore MD. March 2017.
The literature review in this paper is a good introduction to the theory of fixed and growth mindsets proposed by Carol Dweck and others. For more details about this theory see: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by C.S. Dweck (2006).

Sci-Hub and the Researcher. By William Badke. Online Searcher (Vol.41 No. 2). March/April 2017.
This article focuses on Sci-Hub, a free download site that offers easy and free access to scholarly resources.  Topics included the description and overview of Sci-Hub, its ethical context, its content of copyrighted articles, its association with information literacy, and its significance in academic publication.

Families, Lawmakers Want to Know More about what Becomes of College Students; Efforts to Offer a Fuller Picture are Under Way, but Fixes so Far have been Piecemeal. By Melissa Korn. Wall Street Journal. April 8, 2017.
"As tuition costs continue to rise and states rethink their investments in higher education, colleges are under increasing pressure from prospective students and lawmakers to disclose outcomes like on-time graduation rates and earnings potential for particular majors.  The information now available is often incomplete - or even outright wrong.  But efforts are under way to change that, even if progress has been piecemeal."

Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers. By Thomas A. Angelo and Kathryn Patricia Cross. Jossey-Bass Publishers. 1993.
Although this is an older book, many of these quick assessment techniques are still worth exploring.  There are numerous examples of how to use each technique as well as problems teachers may encounter in using them.