Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

Librarians and Learning Innovation in Purdue’s IMPACT Program

November 14th, 2018

Libraries faculty members Clarence Maybee and Michael Flierl are collaborating with their Purdue colleagues in the University’s innovative and touted IMPACT program.

Purdue Libraries Associate Professor Clarence Maybee
Purdue Libraries Associate Professor Clarence Maybee

Transforming OSHA material to make it engaging for Purdue students studying construction management is a daunting task. But, according to Purdue Libraries Associate Professor Clarence Maybee and Assistant Professor Michael Flierl, through IMPACTPurdue University‘s “Instruction Matters: Purdue Academic Course Transformation” program formally established in 2011—Libraries faculty and staff have helped other Purdue faculty members do just that: make what may seem like tedious (but nevertheless integral) content motivating for college students.

One example is Flierl’s work with James Jenkins (associate professor of construction management in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute) to redesign a construction management course. Through the course, students are able to earn important career-advancing certification from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); however, federal law requires faculty teaching such courses to base their pedagogy on specific OSHA materials.

“When Professor Jenkins and I initially met, he showed me a manual printed in green and black ink, then said, ‘This is what my students have to deal with. They are just not engaged with this material,'” Flierl explained. “Through our work together in IMPACT, we changed that. Professor Jenkins and I created a variety of different ways to make the content the students were required to learn more dynamic. For example, we incorporated information literacy concepts into hands-on, gaming activities, as well as developed open-ended problems for them to solve.”

 Purdue Libraries Assistant Professor Michael Flierl
Purdue Libraries Assistant Professor Michael Flierl

Flierl’s work with Jenkins is just one illustration of how the campus-wide IMPACT program has been employed at Purdue. Highlighted in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s October 21 “Education’s 2018 Innovators Special Issue,” IMPACT was described by George D. Kuh, professor emeritus of higher education at Indiana University’s Center for Postsecondary Research, as a “textbook illustration of how to successfully deliver timely, substantive, high-quality professional-development experiences over an extended period of time to a particularly discerning audience.”

At the tactical level, through their work in the program, faculty learn how to refine learning outcomes and are equipped with new and innovative tools to engage their students, Maybee explained.

“Libraries faculty have been involved with the program from the very beginning,” he said. “Of course, librarians are interested in the information literacy part of learning and improving instructional design to incorporate information literacy, which improves the learning experience if you do it right. But that isn’t the only thing we have done and are doing in the program. As Michael mentioned, we help instructors think through their pedagogy. We have had a lot of success with that.”

According to the IMPACT website, since 2011, “IMPACT has grown into an institutional transformation program positively impacting every college/school with nearly 9 out 10 of all undergraduate students taking at least one IMPACT course.” The latest data from the program (listed at the bottom of the IMPACT website, show that more than 580 courses have been transformed and over 330 Purdue instructors have participated in IMPACT.

Maybee, who based his 2018 book IMPACT Learning: Librarians at the Forefront of Change in Higher Education (published by Elsevier), said he has been working in the program, along with colleagues from the Center for Instructional Excellence, ITaP (Information Technology at Purdue), as well as faculty from across the University, since he joined IMPACT in 2012. Their investment is proving to be fruitful for faculty and students. The Chronicle’s piece states, “[a]ccording to a recent outside evaluation, Impact-affected courses generally have higher end-of-course final grades and fewer students who withdraw or earn Ds and Fs.”

“In this collaboration, we have used information literacy concepts and instructional design principles to help transform such foundational courses as COM 114 (“Fundamentals of Speech Communication”), English 106, and Tech 120 (a foundational course in technology), which are important building blocks for thousands of Purdue students,” Maybee added. “Overall, Libraries faculty, and the many others involved in IMPACT here at Purdue, have enhanced students’ learning experiences significantly.”