Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

Purdue Libraries Professor and Information Literacy Specialist Clarence Maybee Co-Leads National Teaching and Learning Summer Program for Academic Librarians

August 24th, 2018

Clarence Maybee, Information Literacy Specialist, Purdue University Libraries
Clarence Maybee, Information Literacy Specialist, Purdue University Libraries

In Gershwin’s classic “Summertime,” the “livin’ is easy,” and for many who work in education, the summer months may be a bit easier—a time to take a break from the hectic pace of the regular academic year. But many faculty also take advantage of their summer downtime to take part in professional-development activities to advance their skills, hone their expertise, and become better educators for the school year ahead. That is exactly what more than 100 librarians did this summer in the Association of College and Research Libraries’ “Immersion” program.

In 2017, Purdue Libraries Associate Professor Clarence Maybee—who also is the Libraries information literacy specialist—was selected as an instructor for ACRL’s five-day long intensive learning program. The program is designed for those who contribute to the educational role of libraries in higher education.

Maybee is an advisor for IMPACT, or Instruction Matters: Purdue Academic Course Transformation, and he is a zealous advocate for librarians’ roles in higher education. Recently, he authored “IMPACT Learning: Librarians at the Forefront of Change in Higher Education,” a book that presents the ways in which academic librarians are making a difference in student learning and success, using IMPACT as an example.

In the short Q&A below, Dr. Maybee talks about the structure and benefits of Immersion and how he uses the opportunity to teach and to learn.

ACRL's Immersion Program 2018: Plenary Session
ACRL’s Immersion Program 2018: Plenary Session

Q: Why is the program called Immersion?

Maybee: Immersion is an intense five-day long experience in which librarians, who support the educational mission of libraries, take a deep dive into exploring and planning for a change in practice they want to take back to their campuses. This year, we sequestered ourselves at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Each day of the week brought a combination of learning about new ideas, receiving constructive feedback from colleagues, reflecting on what we heard, and working individually. Participants were truly “immersed” in their work—ending the week with a plan for what they want to enact when they get back home.

Q. How was Immersion 2018 structured?

Maybee: The 120 participants were divided up into eight cohorts. The program is built upon four cornerstones: critical reflective practice, design thinking, leadership, and information literacy. Before attending the ACRL Immersion program, participants were asked to identify a “change in practice” they are considering in their educational work. The change in practice could be anything, such as a new lesson, a new approach to teaching overall, or a new communication plan. The first few days of the program focused on introducing participants to new ideas related to each of the four cornerstone concepts. At the end of the week, the participants received peer feedback to help them advance their plans. Many participants told me this was the most useful experience of the week—allowing them to draw many ideas together and see things in a new way! As a teacher, I loved seeing what each group came up with on the last day of the program. On this day, the 15 participants in each of the eight cohorts created a visual representation of what they collectively learned through the week. Yes, there were scissors and colored markers involved!

Q. What was the most Tweetable comment/discussion point from Immersion this year and why?

Maybee: A participant pointed out that the program did not explicitly address the racism that exists in higher education learning environments. She volunteered to give a talk to participants about anti-racist pedagogy. Of course, we took her up on that. She introduced the group to many books that aim to help us see racism in teaching and learning situations and various ways of responding to it! I was so grateful for this participant’s willingness to share her knowledge with us. It was a memorable and important addition to the program.

Q. How do you take what you learned at Immersion and apply it to your work at Purdue?

Maybee: It is a two-way street! Many of the insights I have gleaned from working with Instruction Matters: Purdue Academic Course Transformation (IMPACT) helped me in my efforts to support participants in the Immersion program. Specifically, the techniques we use in working with Purdue instructors to think through pedagogic concerns were particularly applicable to working with Immersion participants. Of course, everyone at Immersion brings so much to the table. When working with the teachers and participants in the program, I am constantly learning innovative pedagogic ideas, which I bring back to my work at Purdue.

Q. How did you feel (and why do you think you felt this way) when the program concluded?

Maybee: Although I was very tired by the end of the week, I took solace in knowing that the participants, having really poured their hearts into their work, were even more exhausted. Everyone worked so hard on thinking through the change in practice each wanted to enact back at his or her institution. At the end of the week, everyone was invigorated—excited to get back home and improve education!