Some new things I’m trying this semester

My last three posts have been about new things I tried last semester, and how they worked out. Now I’m going to talk a little bit about new things I’m trying this semester, and what I’m hoping for them.

Digression: I realized about a year ago that I needed a bit more structure to thinking about my teaching. Previously, I would sit down at the end of a semester and think about what I’d taught, and how it had gone, what had worked well and what I’d like to change. And I’d written some stuff down, and pinned it up on my bulletin board1 where I could see it. Then I would ignore it. Starting last semester, I have a more focused plan for each term, where I pick three or four things I want to work on before the semester starts, and then at the end of the semester, sit down and think about how well they worked, and then decide what I want to work on next semester. It’s sort of like “closing the loop” on the assessment cycle, but a lot more flexible.

So this term, I’ve got four items, three of which are related to classroom teaching, and one of which is a larger, curricular/liaison issue:

  1. First, I want to start following up via email with each faculty member I work with after the class session, as a formal “thank you” message and also to share with them whatever assessment results I’ve gotten from their students. I sometimes do this already, and occasionally faculty will follow up with me, but I want to formalize this process a bit more.  Partly this is growing out of our new liaison program, so there’s an added element of “I’m your department’s contact at the library,” as opposed to “I’m the instruction librarian.”  Most importantly, though, I want to be able to talk about what I learned from whatever classroom assessment tool I used, and clarify any points of confusion, etc.
  2. Related to that, and related to my failed experiment from last semester, I’m going to sit down with one of my colleagues who uses a wide variety of classroom assessment tools, and really give some deliberate thought to what other tools I could be using to learn more about what students are, and aren’t, learning in my classroom.
  3. I need to figure out what to do with the bibliographies I collected last semester, and the ones that I’ll request again this semester.  Kaijsa had a comment on that post about evaluating them using a rubric, but I don’t feel confident writing a rubric without seeing a bunch of examples first, so that I have some sense of the scope of what students are capable of.  Writing the rubric “blind,” when I’m not the person writing the outcomes for the course, seems like a recipe for pitching it too high (impossible for students to succeed) or too low (too easy for students to ace it).  Perhaps I’ll just collect examples for one or two more semesters in order to get a sense of range, and then develop a rubric.
  4. And finally, I want to open a conversation with one of my liaison departments about building curriculum-integrated instruction into their major’s curriculum.  We have a fantastic example in another department here at the college (which isn’t one of my liaison departments) that I worked with their faculty to develop, and I want to use that as a model for other departments.  There have been some staffing changes in my liaison department recently, and I think now might be a good time to open the conversation with them.  If I can get this going, I’ll be well on my way to eliminating some of my most frustrating instances of students with wildly differing levels of experience in the same class.

So that’s what I’m going to work on this semester.  In addition to, um, all the other stuff I’m going to work on.  It’s going to be a busy semester, but then, it’s my last full term before I turn in my tenure materials, so that’s probably to be expected.  What are you working on this term?


  1. Yes, I have a bulletin board, not a whiteboard. I am Librarian 1.o.