Tuesday, April 27, 2021

PhD thesis on What Shapes Academic Librarians’ Teaching Practices

Published online last month, the PhD thesis of Eveline Houtman, graduating from the University of Toronto, Canada, has tackled a question very relevant to this blog.
Houtman, E. (2021). What Shapes Academic Librarians’ Teaching Practices? A Holistic Study of Individual Librarians, their Contexts, and their Professional Learning Activities. (PhD thesis, University of Toronto Department: Curriculum, Teaching and Learning). https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/104868
Abstract (extract): "This qualitative study explored the range of experiences, professional contexts, and professional learning activities that shape 12 academic librarians’ teaching practices. As both librarian and researcher, I was positioned as an insider-outsider. I took a bricolage approach that combined narrative, case study, and analysis based on an a priori model that situated the individual librarians in their local, professional, higher education, and societal contexts. I recruited 12 teaching librarians from Canada and the United States and conducted two semi-structured interviews with each. I stitched together a composite picture of the participants’ unique, varying experiences, with rich examples of the ways they understood and developed their teaching roles in relationship to their varied contexts, and in relationship to their own values (e.g., a commitment to social justice; an ethic of care), identities, and prior experiences. I identified two stages in their learning: 1) an initial “learning to teach as a librarian” stage, in which they required (but did not always receive) greater support, and 2) lifelong learning. Librarians in both stages were strongly self-directed and employed a variety of strategies. The professional context served as a broad community of practice that supported their development of a teacher identity and provided them with norms and guidelines. The individuals and their contexts varied enough, however, that no single picture of librarians’ teaching could emerge. This holistic approach to studying librarians’ development as teachers suggests new approaches for practice as well as new questions for research. In particular, the initial “learning to teach as a librarian” stage demands more attention."

Photo by Sheila Webber: parrot tulips from the farmers market, April 2021

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