Immersion: Gearing up

In my request for travel support to attend the Association of College & Research Libraries Immersion ’12 Teacher Track Program, I pledged to blog about my participation in Immersion. To read more about my Immersion experience, check out my posts tagged immersion or my Immersion tweets.

I mentioned my application to the ACRL Immersion Program in a February post (Some thoughts on teaching), but, as I’m getting ready to head up to Vermont later this week, I thought I’d share a bit more about the program and what I hope to gain from my participation in it.

The Immersion Program “provides instruction librarians with the opportunity to work intensively on all aspects of information literacy” (ACRL, Immersion Program). The focus of the program in which I’m participating- Immersion ’12 Teacher Track- is “individual development for those who are interested in enhancing, refreshing, or extending their individual instruction skills” (ACRL, Immersion ’12 – Teacher Track: Individual Development for Instruction Skills). Its learning outcomes are as follows:

  • Design meaningful instructional activities that address different learning styles, recognizing different student motivations, backgrounds, and experiences, in order to address student learning needs in a coherent and systematic fashion.
  • Adopt a constructivist approach to information literacy instruction in order to develop a theoretical perspective and foundation for selecting teaching approaches and learning activities.
  • Teach from a learner-centered perspective in order to engage students in the learning process.
  • Analyze and assess personal teaching methods, habits, and styles in order to expand pedagogical repertoire and shape diverse learning situations.
  • Assess student learning in order to inform and improve practice.
  • Develop and articulate a personal perspective of information literacy in order to make its applications to professional and personal life effective and meaningful.
  • Capitalize on personal leadership characteristics/potential in order to commit acts of leadership and affect change in institutional/professional practice.

Learning happens in a number of ways. I was assigned several readings to complete prior to Immersion, two of which are core readings I’ll teach fellow group members jigsaw-style. Participants select an instructional scenario  (a one-shot session, a for-credit course, a learning object, etc.) to use as a focus throughout the program, working with a small cohort group and faculty advisor to revise it as we attend sessions on techniques, learning theory, assessment, and other topics related to information literacy. I prepared a description of my scenario and shared it with my cohort group last week, and, during Immersion, I’ll give a presentation on my scenario in an exercise to help me develop more effective presentation techniques. There’s also a Moodle space in which participants post advance assignments and participate in discussions.

The schedule is packed, and the experience promises to be intense; the welcome letter I received told me to expect to be “provoked, challenged, excited, and perhaps a bit frustrated.” There will be some fun involved- I’m heading up a couple of days early to visit with a friend from college, and there will be a social outing mid-week- but lots of work, too.

I decided to apply for Immersion in order to become a more effective teacher and help other librarians to do so. The “help other librarians to do so” part has taken on increased importance in light of my new role as professional development librarian, instructional tutorial coordinator, and administrator of our online reference and instruction tools. A successful Immersion experience will mean not only developing skills and knowledge to apply in my personal practice but also returning to the Libraries better prepared to help others in their own teaching and learning.