Thursday, November 7, 2013

Master's Thesis: Link to Full Text

Screen grab of the record for my thesis in the Masters Theses Collection at my library (click to embiggen)
Not long after I successfully defended my Master's thesis, I submitted both the print and electronic versions to my library's digital services department to be added to our Masters Theses Collection. In the spirit of open access, I decided to grant the library permission to make my thesis viewable electronically to the public, worldwide. Once my thesis was live in the collection, my thesis advisor noted: "From defense to global accessibility in 6 days...that's remarkable. And accessed it should be." (Very kind of him.) I agree that it's exciting to think that my thesis is now available for scholars to read, but I'm even more excited that this enables me to share my work with those in my life who are interested in reading it: family, friends, and church folk.

So, without further ado, here is the link to my thesis. If you do decide to click over and skim or read part or all of it, I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback, no matter what the context is in which you are reading it (i.e., fellow Orthodox Christian, fellow theology scholar, fellow librarian interested in things-scholarly, or close friend or family member -- or any other group I may be missing!).

Monday, November 4, 2013

Open Forum on Revised ACRL Info Lit Standards

This afternoon the ACRL, the governing body of my discipline here in America, hosted the third of three open forums about the revision process of the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. I decided to live tweet the event (#ACRLILRevisions), and the conversation happening among academic librarians across the country was good and useful. After the event, I remarked to my research partna', Teresa--who both attended the online forum with me and my fellow librarians in my department, and, with whom I've been saying for three years now that the ACRL Standards need to be revised--I remarked to her that I observed in my library colleagues participating on Twitter a polarization in the profession over this revision: Folks are either invogorated by the proposed changes, including the move from "standards" to "framework" and all that it implies (I fall into this camp); or, they are approaching the revision with a critical eye toward making sure it is "evidence-based" beyond a study or two and not inherently contradictory. Neither pole is wrong, which is why I view this as a productive polarization, if the IL Revision Task Force leans into the tension between the two perspectives, engages with both, and addresses the articulated concerns.

To this end, I decided to create another blog post containing highlights from the live tweeting of the event, with some commentary from me. These are mostly tweets from me, since the last time I experimented with grabbing a series of live tweets for a blog post it helped me process the information and my learning of it; it also serves as a record of my thought process for future reference. But some of these come from other folks as well, because there were a lot really good concerns raised, and I don't want these to be lost.

I knew this, about the role of #metaliteracy in this revision, from my work on my article with Teresa, "Teaching metaliteracy: a new paradigm in action." It was still exciting to see the Task Force articulate it today.

That's Teresa tweeting here -- we're already doing this kind of collaboration, but through this revised document, others are more likely to see the connections between LIS and rhet/comp and act on them.

So the above two tweets are actually two sides of a coin that was discussed in great detail in the Twitter conversation -- how can we say we're moving away from library jargon, only to ground the new document in two very jargon-y theoretical lenses? Observe, the problem stated, and my current take on it (in 140 characters or less per tweet, oy!):

A good way to conceive of threshold concepts, a theory which is relatively new to me, but which makes sense, and is another example of just putting a name to something that already exists (like metaliteracy):

(Love me some paradigm shifting...)

Now, on to the all important question of assessment:

And Teresa noted as well that the move toward a framework as opposed to a linear set of standards is a lot like what's happening in her own field:

I got the sense during the conversation that some participants were getting nervous at how seemingly opaque the conceptual framework(s), which this new information literacy document will be grounded in, seemed, as they were presented in the (inevitably) top-down setting of a webinar. Here was my response to this observation:

You can see where I land on the "standards" versus "framework" question, a question of form and structure which Teresa and I hashed out over two years ago in our paper we presented at ACRL 2011:

But then another two participants made a very good point we need to consider:

I then made the following observation, which I believe wholeheartedly to be true of practitioners in our field, myself included, which became a conversation with @edrabinski:

...which was an idea I got from this participant:

And now, on to some stand-alone tweets that I can 100% cosign and get behind:


Yes, and they are long overdue. Which is not to say I want to see them rushed to adoption without being put through the critical wringer, so to speak. But we definitely need a revised understanding to work from soon.

This was a good point that I hope was not lost.

My partna' again; this "hunt and peck" mentality toward research is so prevalent at the reference desk, it drives me nuts.

One participant was tweeting out hysterical but pointed tweets of substance. Here he comments on the fact that not all participants were being won over on the revision direction through this webinar format:

(I LOL'd.)

And finally, because how can I process and analyze this kind of public, decentralized conversation via Twitter without noting the obvious application of metaliteracy:

Which means, I really should tag this so it feeds over to the Metaliteracy MOOC, since the #ACRLILRevisions stream is such a good example of metaliteracy in action.

A quick note on my MOOC participation of late (or lack thereof): I'm several MOOC talks behind, though I hope to catch up over the next two weeks. Looking forward to diving back into the conversation with my fellow MOOC participants as well.

Gah, so many conversations/streams/feeds, so little time! #metaliteracyprobs

UPDATE: Kate Ganski, Visiting Program Officer for the ACRL's IL revisions process, has compiled a storify from the Twitter stream during the Open Forum on 11/4. Definitely worth a look!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Application for Promotion and Communities of Practice

...or, the November I did AcWriMo. But more on that in a moment.

On Friday, November 1st, I met the biggest deadline of my career thus far.

The deadline was not just for my application materials (pictured). It was the deadline by which I needed to have met five qualifying criteria for promotion to the rank of Associate Professor, having to do with my three areas of faculty responsibility: librarianship, scholarship, and service. Without describing them in detail, suffice it to say, the requirements are very involved, time consuming, and challenging, each in its own way. By far the most challenging was the scholarship criterion -- which is, basically, that I need to have "substantial" scholarly activity in my field that is juried/refereed/peer-reviewed, etc., and in my profession the minimum I was given was "two peer-reviewed journal articles, published or accepted for publication by the time of application," which thankfully I have. I also needed to complete my Master of Arts in Theology degree. My mantra this past year has been: "Just get to November 1st, Donna." And, by God's grace, and the immense support of my husband, Paul, and my amazing research partna', Teresa, I made it: My application is in, and I actually feel good about my chances of being promoted by my colleagues on the Board of Rank and Tenure at my institution. Either way, I don't need to worry about it again until January, when my meeting before the Board will be scheduled.

Another thing I've been looking forward to is getting past November 1st so I can do my research and scholarly activities without the punitive "whip" of a career making-or-breaking timeline under which I needed to work. I can do my research at the pace that best suits the project, not my academic timeline. I feel very excited about this next chapter in my work, and have a plan in this upcoming year for research that is feasible, exciting, and important. I'm feeling very motivated by this freedom. 

So, on Friday when I returned to my Twitter stream after being away for a few days, I realized a community of practice called AcWriMo was a perfect fit for this next month in my academic life. Like NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo, AcWriMo takes place during the month of November, during which participants post their writing goals publicly and have a commmunity of fellow writers with whom to share progress, and from whom to receive support. If it isn't obvious from its name, AcWriMo is a community of practice dedicated to academic writing. 

And so, in the spirit of public accountability, here are my goals for AcWriMo 2013:
GOALS: 1 application for promotion completed and submitted; 1 journal article drafted; 1 article query sent; 1 co-authored book chapter drafted; 1 IRB application revised; 2 metaliteracy blog posts published; 1 masters thesis blog post published; 2 peer evals written and submitted.
PLAN: Work uninterrupted on at least one goal per work day for 1-2 hours. 
Ambitious? Perhaps. And I wonder if I'm setting myself up for "failure" by fully admitting that for a few of these, if I can just end the month with a decent amount of progress made, I will be satisfied, since I can continue to work on them in December. The key for me is that I make a concerted effort to work on all of these this month, so when December comes I won't be starting from scratch on any of them.

The co-authored book chapter as well as the peer evaluations are due by the end of this month, so they will definitely be completed.

I admit that I cheated a bit: I declared these goals yesterday, on November 2nd; I accomplished the first goal on November 1st. But, if 20 pages, single-spaced, of me 1) explaining what it is I do as a faculty librarian, and, 2) making my case for academic promotion to my faculty colleagues, doesn't count as academic writing, I'm not sure what does. And it felt good to start off the month on such a good foot.

The journal article I hope to draft will use a substantial amount of past writing cut from a different article, but to revise it into what I want it to be I need to do some more research, as well as a fair amount of new writing for it. So, while this is still the biggest goal listed (aside from the promotion application), I won't be starting from scratch on it, so I have a good chance at completing it.

And finally, as you can see, blogging figures into my goals as well; more specifically, blogging related to the Metaliteracy MOOC I'm in, which I needed to take a hiatus from in order to finish my thesis and apply for promotion. I'm hoping to return to it (and catch up on past MOOC talks) later this week.

I'll be tweeting with #AcWriMo about this experience. Wish me luck! And for any other AcWriMo folk reading this: Go forth and write (academically)!