A Mixed-Method Institutional Study – go.carleton.edu/CUVM
Paula Lackie and Andrea Nixon, Carleton College
Based on the research study that asked the question “Are Carleton Colleges sources of support well suited to the work demanded of the students and faculty as they make curricular use of visual materials?”
The study was conducted with the help of student researchers that were trained by a cultural anthropologist in the library. Emphasis was placed on student class status (freshman to senior) and how students became “aculturated” to scholarship over the years.
Results of the study showed that the majority of work done by students was happening in the residence halls between the hours of 4pm and 4am. The the library and other areas where students study were used less.
Sources of support was sought (in order):
- from other students in the class or from professors – freshman were more likely to use peer support, juniors and seniors were more likely to ask the “experts” – professors or staff – then first year students.
- there were a number of students who didn’t seek support at all
- support from TA’s and CA’s
- a very small number of students actually turned to IT staff for assistance.
The study hoped to identify the points at which the curriculum met the support model of the institution. The integrated support model’s mission is to provide faculty and students with expert reference so that students and faculty need not know the organizational support structure of the institution.
They began to look at consultation with faculty – where goals regarding course pedagogy were discussed, assignments considered and materials needed – not as project managment outlines (though there is a time and place for this structure) but rather as production meetings. Unlike project management where there is a “product” or outcome and tasks required to obtain those ends, faculty were encourage to voice ideas, discuss assignments and outline teaching and learning objectives of a particular course. The project management part was secondary to those initial meetings.
The use of the visual is well established in curriculum. Students and faculty are asked to find, access, create, interpret and present visual materials for course and research work. Working with visual materials requires support from many different departments across the university. Digitizing materials – whether they be library objects or personal collections – can require a long list of support providers some of which include:
- content specialists
- media creation specialists
- software/hardware specialists
- course management specialists
- system administrators
In order to support students in their visual literacy mastery, these items need to be considered:
- the times and places where students work
- recognition of others sources of support (student techs, teaching assistants, peers).
- providing a model of exceptional work (rubrics or examples of high level scholarship in a discipline)
- providing support beyond the struggling student to counteract any negative perceptions of support
- course specific instruction (providing clear concise online documentation)
- supplemental training for high end tools
- identification and advertisement of sources of support.
Items that need to be considered in order to support faculty in their use of visual materials:
- the times and places where faculty work (including their availability for training)
- production meetings to discuss the academic goals of the course
- project management outlines for deliverables with clear deadlines with “fail safe” or “exit strategies” if technology fails to meet the needs of the goal
- providing a team-based support system with an expert reference as point of contact
Take away quote:
“I am amazed by how much my need to help clouded my ability to see what kind of help was needed”
This quote resonated with me, just the day before I had mentioned that at one point in my career as support specialist I felt that my value in the job rested on the amount of tasks I completed for others. I now see my job less as “the person who accomplishes the task” but now “the person who facilitates, enabling others to achieve their goals.”
How, when and from whom did you seek support? – this question should be added to the course assessment surveys.
Possibly using i3 funds – identify a student or TA associated with the course or senior in a the discipline who is paid to provide student support for technology used in the course.
Use the i3 graduate student in History and English as first point of contact for student support for technologies used in courses in these disciplines
Partner with residence halls to see what is available for student use in the areas where they live – if indeed this is the place where the majority of the work is taking place.
Mine the i3 program for feedback regarding support models, course technologies used etc – have them work closely with the TLC staff to help support specialists understand their needs. Though our mission is the support of faculty, ultimately this support affects the student body. It is possible that interns could conduct exit interviews with students?
Student interns are para-professionals. In order to keep the work quality/output high, those interns must be excited about and engaged in the process.