April 13, 2008
Partnering With Librarians to Meet Ncate Standards in Teacher Education
By Birch, Tobeylynn Greenfield, Louise; Janke, Karen; Schaeffer, Deborah; Woods, Ada
As colleges of education prepare to meet NCATE standards they will find technically savvy allies and willing partners at their campus libraries. The information literacy and technology targets in the standards of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) parallel the information literacy standards developed by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). Academic librarians with their experience in technology and information literacy instruction are eager to assist as colleges of education achieve these NCATE standards. This article details examples of how teacher education departments have partnered with college and university librarians to produce teachers and university faculty that meet four of the six NCATE information literacy and technology standards. IntroductionEducation professionals are subject to a wide variety of standards, developed by national, regional, state, and institutional agencies and associations. Beyond general education standards, there are specialized standards for personnel who teach a specific subject, teach at a specific level, teach students with special needs, and provide student services. There are even specific standards for the use of technology in education. However, teacher education programs are primarily guided, by the professional standards of the national accrediting body for teacher preparation, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Securing and maintaining such accreditation with periodic institutional reports and site visits can be grueling and time consuming, but education faculty and administrators are not alone in ensuring that NCATE standards are met.
To achieve the standards of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and other professional associations, librarians strive to impart target behaviors and information literacy competencies in their students. These behaviors and competencies include the ability to "recognize when information is needed and ...and to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information" and they complement the skills, knowledge and dispositions that NCATE mandates. Partnerships between teacher education faculty and education librarians improve the likelihood that both NCATE and ACRL competencies will be integrated with and reinforced by content instruction and performance. Such partnerships can contribute to several specific NCATE Standards, including: Standard 1: Teacher Candidate Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions; Standard 3: Field Experiences and Clinical Practice; Standard 5: Faculty Qualifications, Performance, and Development; and Standard 6: Unit Governance and Resources.
Standard One: Candidate Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions
NCATE Standard One, which addresses a teacher candidate's knowledge, skills, and dispositions, requires that candidates "know and demonstrate the content, pedagogical and professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to help all students learn." (NCATE, 2002, p. 10) Target behaviors that support this standard include:
* demonstrated ability to use tools and processes of inquiry;
* critical analysis;
* reflective practice;
* collection of data; and
* integration of technology and information literacy in instruction to support student learning.
These behaviors parallel information literacy standards developed by ACRL. Although professional vocabulary differs, as can be seen in the appendix, anticipated outcomes of the two standards are congruent. Information literacy, or the ability to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information," is a set of skills essential to achieving the first NCATE standard. (ALA, 1989)
Faculty members as well as professional associations and agencies have long recognized the importance of information literacy for university faculty and future K-12 teachers. Ten faculty members from the University of Arizona's College of Education informally answered the question: "What information literacy skills do your students need to prepare them to teach?" They identified the following skills: finding resources; organizing information; establishing priorities; maintaining research skills; keeping current; and evaluating the quality of the information. (Greenfield, 2004).
Unfortunately, it is all too common to review class assignments where pre-service teachers have not been able to adequately demonstrate their ability to locate, critically evaluate, and appropriately cite information. These skills are the bedrock of information literacy, and are broader than the mechanical ability to search an online article database, index, or library catalog. Information seeking and evaluation is a recursive process that lies at the heart of lifelong learning. Pre-service teachers who struggle to use information effectively as students will not be able to take the next steps to integrate these skills into their own teaching after graduation, collaborate with school librarians, nor foster the development of these skills in their students.
The instruction needed for education majors to develop these skills and meet the NCATE information literacy standards can be acquired in various undergraduate programs. Kasowitz-Scheer and Pasqualoni (2002) provide an excellent summary of the best practices for undergraduate students, including course-related library instruction sessions, course-integrated projects, online tutorials, and stand alone information literacy courses. Education students and pre-service teachers alike will benefit from these programs.
Increasingly, information literacy instruction is being tailored to pre-service teachers. Shinew and Walter (2003) describe eight of these programs. Of particular interest is the collaboration between the Educational Studies Department at Illinois Wesleyan University and the university librarians. The main goal was to meet the new Illinois State Board of Education standards for accredited teacher education programs. This collaborative program included "a combination of an information literacy pre-test, a self-paced, open source Web tutorial, traditional library instruction sessions, one- on-one student-librarian consultations with student teachers, and collaborative course design." (Witt & Dickinson, 2003, p. 75).
Another example of information literacy instruction tailored for pre-service teachers involved two education faculty members at the University of British Columbia who redesigned their language arts methods course to include information literacy concepts. The two implemented a process-based, problemsolving model of information literacy and utilized an instructional framework of resource-based learning and collaboration with teachers and librarians (Asselin & Lee, 2002). The project was heavily dependent on the pre-service teachers' observations of collaboration between practicing teachers and teacher-librarians in both the planning stages and during the execution of an information literacy session in a local school media center.
After three years, the authors reported that pre-service teachers experienced a shift from defining information literacy as simply "reading information," to defining information literacy in close alignment with current guidelines, as a process of obtaining, analyzing, and using information from a wide variety of sources. The students in the redesigned classes also made greater progress in integrating information literacy concepts into curriculum units and recognizing the adaptability of these concepts to any grade level. Most importantly, they took ownership of the responsibility for teaching information literacy and gained new respect for and understanding of the importance of collaboration with teacher- librarians while planning and executing curriculum units.
Standard Three: Field Experiences and Clinical Practice
Standard Three covers Field Experience and Clinical Practice. This requires "teacher candidates and other school personnel develop and demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to help all students learn." (NCATE, 2002, p. 27) Target behaviors that support this standard include pre-service teachers:
* being a part of a school community;
* performing in a real school environment;
* applying and demonstrating their skills; and
* collaborating with other professionals.
Templeton, Warner and Frank strongly endorse the need for collaboration between librarians and pre-service education program personnel. The authors discuss the multi-faceted nature of the information literacy initiative in the teacher education program at Westfield (MA) State College.. An education resources librarian and two professors of education collaborated over two years with 200 education students to create the Pre-Service Information Literacy Model. Their strategies moved the program from the traditional librarian-led 'bibliographic instruction' format to a program that included "active learning methods and constructivist principles.. .to encourage lifelong information literacy skills" (2002, p. 268).
This model is designed to emphasize development of critical thinking skills, to improve active research connected with the students' courses, and to enhance the student practicum experiences. "After initial discussion and demonstrations of Internet web sites and search techniques in an electronic classroom, students are given opportunities to explore and evaluate resources that are directly connected to their course work and field work. Information is gathered, analyzed, synthesized and evaluated and combined in new ways and eventually applied in the pre practicum teaching site by the student in consultation with the cooperating teacher" (Templeton, et al., 2001, p. 269). Also essential to the model is the continuing collaboration between the faculty and librarian. Continuing partnerships help to make certain the course assignments and the field experiences are consistent with the information literacy goals (p. 270). The authors further analyze the course work and pre-practicum field work manuals of the pre-service students. "The individually designed and implemented interdisciplinary units provided a rich source of data demonstrating the effectiveness of library research and technology skills as a result of the active learning Information Literacy Model.....The quality of these units created by students who utilized various types of media and technology available in the Education Resource Center was judged to be superior by the education professors and the cooperating teachers" (Templeton, et al., 2001, p. 270). Education faculty members were asked to identify the most essential research skills for future teachers. The ability to synthesize information gathered from numerous sources had the unanimous support of the faculty surveyed.
Standard Five: Faculty Qualifications, Performance, and Development
NCATE Standard Five describes faculty who "are qualified and model best professional practices in scholarship, service, and teaching, including the assessment of their own effectiveness as related to candidate performance; they also collaborate with colleagues in disciplines and schools." (NCATE, 2002, p. 33) The NCATE target and supporting explanations include two specific professional practices in which partnering with librarians will facilitate the achievement of NCATE Standards:
* education faculty will promote their professional development by collaboration "with members of the university and professional community to improve teaching, learning, and teacher education." (P- 36)
* education faculty are to "be aware of new and developing research in their fields." (p.37)
Both of these goals can be reached every time a librarian instructs a class of education students. The savvy professor uses library instruction sessions to keep current with the constantly changing databases, while she and the librarian model collegial collaboration to their students.
These twin NCATE goals have been achieved in more ambitious teacher education initiatives throughout the country. One of the most impressive projects was reported by Breivik and McDermand in 2004. The new Dr. Martin Luther King Library in San Jose, which is the result of a collaboration between San Jose State University (SJSU) and the City of San Jose, is a showcase of cooperation between the SJSU librarians, the College of Education, the School of Library and Information Science, the San Jose public librarians, and School personnel. Working together, they have developed an Educational Resource Center (ERC), which "provides information and resources for anyone interested in enhancing pre-K-12 education in Silicon Valley." (p. 212).
Nearly as innovative was the 1994 collaborative project that began at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Walter, Ariew, Beasley, Tillman & Ver Steeg, 2000). As a pilot program, the Head Virginia Polytechnic College Librarian assigned a librarian directly to the College of Education and to three other Virginia Polytechnic colleges-Human Resources, Agriculture, and Arts and Sciences. These librarians, housed in their assigned colleges, found that the "collaborative process was improved by the increased opportunity for contact with students and faculty members" (p. 67). As a result of the daily informal contact, the College of Education "embedded" librarian found several ways to increase his support of the faculty and students. He joined several departmental committees, taught more instruction sessions, and also participated in the planning of a new master's program in health and physical education.
Online courses have provided another field for collaboration and librarian-facilitated current awareness. Riedel (2003) relates both positive and negative experiences at Regis University, which has about 75 graduate students in master's programs in education. As the Distance Learning Librarian, he successfully presented a proposal to integrate library resources into the online education classes. Riedel became part of a five person team consisting of an instruction designer and two education faculty members. He concludes that, "more faculties are interested in learning about databases so that they can incorporate current literature in their courses through electronic reserves" (p. 486).
There are numerous examples in the literature of one-on-one collaborations between faculty and librarians that support these NCATE standards. At Arizona State University West, instructional collaboration led to joint faculty-librarian publications and presentations. Bee Gallegos, education librarian, and Peter Rillero, assistant professor of science education, began by co-teaching a session of Rillero's Science and Social Studies Methods class. Their work together on core competencies necessary for successful student research led to projects that they presented and published (Gallegos & Wright, 2000).
Penny M. Beile, Director of the Curriculum Materials Center at the University of Central Florida, and Dave Boote, an assistant professor of curriculum studies, partnered to study the impact of library skills delivered in various environments. Working with graduate students in an educational research methodology course, they demonstrated that web-based tutorials were as effective in teaching library skills as traditional face-to-face instruction (Beile & Boote, 2002, p. 367).
Last year two librarians at Towson University, Claire Holmes and Ada Woods, experienced a remarkable response from one simple act of faculty collaboration. For a year their biannual newsletters sent to the College of Education were met with nearly perfect silence. In January 2004 they asked Dr. David Wizer, professor of education, to edit their latest newsletter edition. Dr. Wizer made a number of small changes, but the most significant was that he transformed some of their library language into educational terminology. One example was the simple change from the term "distance education courses" to 'Towson Learning Network (TLN) courses". Instead of silence, Holmes and Woods were rewarded with requests from six faculty members for enough newsletters to distribute to their students and a request for library instruction at a new off-campus site.
Standard Six: Unit Governance and Resources
NCATE Standard Six requires that the teacher education "unit has the leadership, authority, budget, personnel, facilities, and resources including information technology resources, for the preparation of candidates to meet professional, state, and institutional standards." (NCATE, 2005, p. 38) Targets and supporting explanation in this Standard include reference to:
* facilities that support the most recent developments in technology; and
* candidates have access to exemplary library, curricular, and electronic information resources that not only serve the unit, but also a broader constituency.
Partnerships with librarians facilitate the maintenance and use of up-to-date technology and information resources. Expensive equipment can be purchased collaboratively by several departments and located centrally in the Library, which is usually open longer hours than departmental offices. In many institutions, librarians are already responsible for maintaining the curriculum materials center, which may include media and computer-based materials. In addition, librarians are sophisticated technology users, providing additional technology instruction and support, especially as it relates to information literacy.
With the advent of computer classrooms librarians have been swift to switch their teaching style from lecture format to handson guided database research. Bhavnagri and Bielat (2005) detail recent faculty- librarian collaboration on a research methodologies course for elementary and early childhood education master's students at Wayne State University. Their collaboration utilized Blackboard, PowerPoint, and online database demonstrations. As they collaborated on Bielat's two library sessions and the construction of the course's Blackboard site, the authors discovered that they had very complementary expertise.
To this partnership Dr. Bhavnagri brought her knowledge of teaching research methodology to pre-service teachers and her experience in publishing in electronic journals. Veronica Bielat contributed her technology skills, including how to link journal articles to the Blackboard platform and how to make documents available in multiple formats to facilitate student access. (2005, p. 131)
As colleges of education prepare to meet NCATE standards they will find technically savvy allies and willing collaborators at their campus libraries. The ACRL standards that guide librarians in the delivery of information literacy instruction parallel four of the six NCATE standards. In meeting the standards of their own professional association, academic librarians have prepared themselves to be knowledgeable partners in me achievement of NCATE information literacy and technology standards. As the numerous studies and projects discussed here indicate, librarians and school of education faculty are already collaborating in a variety of ways to meet the challenge of producing information literate teachers. The variety of responses also illustrate there is no panacea or single approach, and that there are many options and opportunities available for education professionals to meet NCATE standards. The authors wish to acknowledge the Education and Behavioral Sciences Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries for its support of the publication of this article.
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