Challenging Assumptions and Initiating Conversations: My Takeaways from ACRL 2019

Posted by Beth Black on 4/22/19, 12:55 PM

Conferences, First Year Experience, Second Year Transition

Image from iOS (1)I looked forward to ACRL 2019 in my home state of Ohio for weeks, and the conference in Cleveland did not disappoint. As I reflect on the conference, a key theme of challenging assumptions and taking the time to talk with others began with Michele Norris’ opening keynote about The Race Card Project.

In terms of instruction for first and second-year college students, this means challenging our deficit mindsets about what our students know and don’t know and what they need to be successful. Instead, ask them. Two sessions emphasized how important it is to talk with our students about their experiences: Tracey Overbey and Amanda Folk’s session Narratives of (Dis)Engagement: Exploring Black/African-American Undergraduate Students' Experiences with Libraries and the panel session, Transfer Student Success: Dismantling Deficit-Oriented Approaches, moderated by Brittany Paloma Fiedler.

During the transfer student session, as one of the panelists shared a student’s frustration with seeing the same instruction over and over, I was reminded of something I learned at Immersion: ditch the database demo. Instead, design instruction sessions that include students using the database(s) toward their own goals and interests. An example of one way I do this in practice is the short presentation I gave at the Credo booth about how to use Credo Reference in teaching research question development. The instruction session guides students through an iterative process of writing a research question using Credo’s Topic Pages and peer feedback. Because there are so many Topic Pages, this works for almost any subject of interest to the student.

I have much homework from the conference. There were so many great presenters to choose from that I have a long list of sessions to view through the virtual conference and papers to read in the proceedings. I’m grateful that the conference organizers give us a year to view the recordings; the deadline provides ample time and the incentive to get watching before they go away.

Let me know your thoughts on the conference in the comments section below!

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