A Perfect Match: Partnering with Education Faculty for Pedagogical Professional Development

A Perfect Match: Partnering with Education Faculty for Pedagogical Professional Development

Hilary Kraus (Johnson & Wales University, USA) and Rudolf V. Kraus (Rhode Island College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4675-9.ch012


A persistent challenge for many librarians is a lack of formal training in pedagogical techniques. In addition to lacking academic coursework in this area, librarians seldom look beyond their professional community for opportunities to develop these vital skills. Given the obvious parallels in mission and responsibilities, the field of education seems a natural fit. This chapter explores the benefits of cross-disciplinary professional development in the context of a collaboration between a librarian and an educational studies professor. Through alternating points of view, it presents the motivation for the partnership, the challenges it presented, and the positive outcomes for each participant. It also offers an in-depth look at the instructional development itself.
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Librarians spend a significant portion of their time teaching. Statistics vary, but one study’s results indicated that they may spend as much as “50% of their time on library instruction and/or information literacy functions” (Albrecht & Baron, 2002, p. 85); another reports that the “hours per week spent preparing and delivering IL teaching (formally or informally) … range from 0 to 25 hours for full-time [staff]” (Bewick & Corrall, 2010, p. 101).

The teaching described above might include course-related instruction in research techniques, workshops for faculty, one-on-one consultations with students, and teaching skills to patrons at the reference desk. In spite of these significant instruction responsibilities, “in many instances, librarians find themselves adopting a teaching role with little formal training and without ample opportunity for teacher development” (Sinkinson, 2011, p. 10). In Albrecht and Baron’s 2002 study, for example, the authors surveyed practicing librarians, who stated that they “first learned to teach library instruction on the job” (p. 90); the authors also analyzed course offerings for students pursuing degrees in librarianship and noted that “SLIS programs are reluctant to embrace the pedagogy as a core requirement of librarians” (p. 89). Despite study results produced by Sproles, Johnson, and Fairson (2008) emphasizing that coursework in instruction has increased, Westbrock and Fabian’s 2010 article on their survey of practicing librarians showed that of the 41 competencies listed in Standards for Proficiencies for Instruction Librarians and Coordinators: A Practical Guide (Association of College and Research Libraries, 2008), not a single one was learned primarily in school (p. 585). Concerns about inadequate preparation for instruction remain very much in the forefront of librarians’ minds.

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