*This post is shared on behalf of Amy Slutzky, one of the 2021 Professional Development Award Winners*
Thanks to UNYOC’s Professional Development Award, I was able to participate in MLA’s online course “Journey to the Outer Limits of Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) Instruction”. The course included two virtual instruction sessions, with “pre-work” for each meeting. Pre-work and breakout sessions involved developing/improving a lesson plan for one of the classes we teach.
The fact that the course met online instead of in-person meant that: (1) it was a little harder to interact with other participants, and (2) I don’t have any fun photos to show you from our work sessions. (I thought of taking a screen shot of our little Zoom boxes, but I decided that we’re all probably tired of those by now.) On the positive side, however, the all-virtual format allowed participation from librarians across the country. And, as a “people person”, I very much enjoyed meeting, sharing experiences, and brainstorming with colleagues tackling similar challenges at a variety of far-away institutions.
The use of our own projects as examples during these sessions was very helpful. Like many of us, I’ve been teaching a few courses the same way for several years. And, though I know that improvements can (and should!) be made, time is limited and other things usually take priority. It was great having the opportunity to (and being “pushed” to) focus on instruction development.
The assigned readings were also helpful. One article – “Alphabet Soup of Active Learning: Comparison of PBL, CBL, and TBL” by Mari K. Hopper – was particularly interesting to me. We all hear and read a lot of active learning jargon being thrown around – sometimes with no definitions provided and sometimes used interchangeably. Dr. Hopper’s article very clearly describes, compares, and contrasts three common types of active learning.
While I was already familiar with basic principles of instructional design, I enjoyed this course and it empowered me with some new techniques that I can use to improve the design of the classes I teach.
Thank you again, UNYOC, for your support!
2021 UNYOC Professional Development Award Winner
*This post is shared on behalf of Elizabeth Yates, one of the 2020 Professional Development Award Winners*
I am profoundly grateful to UNYOC for professional development funding which I used to help cover my tuition for a postgraduate certificate program in Research Methods for Health via the University of Aberdeen. While sadly I did not get to visit the 525-year-old Aberdeen campus in person or sample any Scottish whiskey, I did greatly enrich my understanding of how research into health should be conducted and disseminated. I took four courses as part of the program, which has always been offered entirely online:
- Fundamentals of Research Design: this course covered the development of research questions, identifying appropriate study designs and relevant outcomes and how to collect data. Critical appraisal, research ethics and scientific communication were also covered. Our major assignment was a research proposal worth 80% of our course grade, which was quite daunting! I feel much more confident about conducting my own research, supporting students and understanding others’ research after taking this course.
- Evidence-Based Health: understanding how to conduct evidence syntheses was the main focus of this course, so it was highly relevant to my work as a health sciences librarian – especially the chance to use RevMan systematic review software. In addition to working through the stages of conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis, we also studied how evidence is used to shape health policy and practices e.g. via clinical practice guidelines.
- Qualitative Health Research: we explored the value of qualitative research in a health context and learned about a wide variety of qualitative methods. I really enjoyed this course, which solidified my personal preference for, and appreciation of, qualitative research.
- Applied Statistics: the bane of my existence! This course concentrated on applying and interpret statistical analysis for health research, with a particular focus on using SPSS statistical software. While I found the material extremely challenging (I was reduced to tears of incomprehension on more than one occasion), I actually ended up doing quite well overall.
I appreciated many things about the University of Aberdeen programming, including the extensive support provided for students. The program director and most instructors were very helpful and kind. University policies were clearly stated and easily available from within our learning management system (LMS) – no need to hunt through layers of webpages to find the info you need. The LMS itself was well-designed and easy to use, and the course synopses (aka syllabi) provided clear details about course content and learning outcomes for students. It was really interesting to be part of a community of learners from all over the world.
However, there were several challenging aspects. Most courses were taught by several different instructors, who delivered their content with marked variations in style and substance (the worst was an instructor who simply assigned a massively dense reading and expected us to learn everything we needed to know about their topic that way.) I found learning completely online to be a rather lonely experience, although there were live tutorials for some courses which provided opportunities for personal connection. For some courses, students started WhatsApp chat groups which were a lifesaver – it was so helpful to talk about our struggles with the material and share tips with each other. I also struggled to keep on top of the timing for synchronous class sessions, which varied week to week. It seemed like as soon as I finally mastered converting Aberdeen time to my home time zone, there was a time change in either Scotland or Canada and I had to figure things out all over again!
Experiencing student life myself has heightened my empathy for students. Now that I’m heading back to work, I look forward to continuing to support our learners with compassion and to implementing my new knowledge to help advance research creation and dissemination at my institution.
2020 UNYOC Professional Development Award Winner
The UNYOC virtual conference kicks off with the CE: Antiracism in Libraries: Allyship Starts with You, facilitated by Kelsa Bartley, Shannon Jones, and Jamia Williams.
Thank you LibLynx for sponsoring this meaningful event.
The Upstate New York and Ontario Chapter of the Medical Library Association is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.