You might have heard about the recent launch of the National Forum’s open-access professional development short course ‘Getting Started with Professional Development – PACT’ and the opportunity to earn a digital badge. Unfortunately work commitments meant I couldn’t partake on the first day but I thought I would share my attempt to use the NPD Framework for all those who teach in HE for my own teaching CPD in the context of academic libraries.
As part of the PG Dip in T&L in TCD I explored my approaches to teaching and learning through reflection, evaluation, and the range of models available in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning literature, as well as the literature of my own discipline. My teaching portfolio documented all of this and examined how my reflection/evaluation/learning is having an impact on my work, and how it changes how I see my role as an academic librarian. Making the process explicit clarified for me the professional and personal values which underpin my work and has the additional bonus of helping to develop a sense of agency over my professional development. I’d still really like some digital badges though!
At roughly the same time that I became aware of the National Professional Development Framework for those who teach in Higher Education through the course as a model that we could use to guide our reflections, I learned about the L2L project which examined the Framework from the perspective of academic librarians. During the lifetime of the project, I attended two very valuable workshops run by the L2L team: one in DIT which I’ve written about on the LAI CDG blog (see Claire McGuinness’s slides from the day here) and an action research workshop facilitated by Jean McNiff at which we explored how librarians could use action research to investigate/research their own work practices.
I’ve picked apart some of the applications of the NPD Framework for academic librarians below and incorporated elements into my Teaching Portfolio. While I’ve only made a start using just one of the domains, I’m considering using it for my ongoing professional development as it encompasses a range of professional development standards and elements which will be common to all those involved in Irish Higher Education and could provide evidence of my CPD through digital badges in the future.
Typology of professional development activities
I started by seeing how my professional development activities mapped onto the typology supplied by the Framework and came up with some of my own examples (note: this was constructed in 2017 & predates my involvement with A&SL and the Literacies Committee of the LAI):
|Non-accredited||4. Accredited (formal)|
|1. Collaborative Non-accredited (informal)||2. Unstructured Non-accredited (non-formal)||3. Structured Non-accredited (non-formal)|
|Learning from these activities comes from their collaborative nature||These activities are independently led by the individual. Engagement is driven by the individual’s interests. Individuals source the material themselves||Organised activities (by an institution, network or disciplinary membership body). They are typically facilitated and have identified learning objectives||Accredited programmes of study (ECTS or similar credits)|
|My activities:||My activities:||My activities:||My activities:|
|Attendance at networking events such as A&SL & other LAI networking evenings, writing pieces for Irish library blogs (thelivedinlibrarian.wordpress.com, LibFocus, SLIP Ireland), participation in Twitter chats, event organisation & other duties as Secretary of the LAI CDG, engaging in 23 things in former workplace, and in Rudaí 23 (run by the WRSLAI)||Conference review in professional journal An Leabharlann, professional reading and collating of articles in referencing library Mendeley, note-taking in Evernote, active in social media for professional purposes, blog-writing.||Attendance and participation in workshops & seminars including LAI CDG* Library Camps & other workshops, L2L workshops, LAI & CILIP conferences (LILAC), & online courses (Library Juice Academy: Backward Design for Information Literacy Instruction: Fostering Critical Habits of Mind through Learning Outcomes, Assessment, and Sequencing) (07/03/16 – 15/04/16)||T&L in HE PG Dip/M.Ed. (Level 9).(Sept 2016 – ongoing)
Teaching for librarians Certificate in Education and Training (Level 3/4). Northern College, Yorkshire (sponsored by CILIP)(12/12/16 – 16/12)
Types of learning
There were also four types of learning related to activities, and again, I’ve tried to map my own current and future professional development in these areas:
The domains of the framework
There are 5 ‘overarching’ domains to the framework, and one of the key challenges in applying it to your own CPD is deciding whether to focus on one, more than one, or all of the domains. As there are multiple domains (and my teaching portfolio had a word-count), I decided to focus on the central domain of ‘the self’ as it is the bedrock for the other domains, which I can examine in more detail in the future.
Personal development: the ‘self’ in teaching & learning’
I applied this domain of the framework to the reflective work I did while drafting my Teaching Philosophy Statement, and an overall evaluation of the role of reflective writing and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in my work.
Values are a very good place to start when reflecting on your role or trying to come up with a Teaching Philosophy Statement. This can incorporate personal and professional values – luckily in my case these align quite nicely and for the most part I happily identify with the IFLA code of professional ethics for library and information professionals which identify the following core values:
- Access to information
- Responsibilities towards individuals and society
- Privacy, secrecy and transparency
- Open access and intellectual property
- Neutrality, personal integrity and professional skills
- Colleague and employer/employee relationship
The only one of these that I have quibbles with is the neutrality clause (5) – IMO it’s arguably both impossible and undesirable to maintain a completely neutral library service. As pointed out by Pagowsky & Wallace, “proclaiming “but we’re neutral!” is a way to avoid the library’s obligation to actively support all of our community members” (2015, para. 21). I could write a whole post on this topic alone but for brevity’s sake, I’ll just say that if you’re interested in this topic (in particular from an instructional librarian angle) check out Information Literacy and Social Justice: Radical Professional Praxis, edited by Higgins & Gregory (2013). The other values deserve merit further discussion…but alas not here!
This part of the Framework invites you to reflect on ‘prior learning & life experiences that contribute, or are barriers, to teaching’ and I’ve chosen to focus quite narrowly on the teaching part for the sake of this reflection. You can see below how I’ve zoned in on the ‘practical issues’ which impact upon my teaching:
I’ve touched on some of these issues in previous blog-posts on the role of the academic librarian and pedagogy for librarians: some thoughts on assessment as well as elsewhere on the blog.
While I used the ‘What? So What? Now what?’ model (Rolfe, Freshwater, & Jasper, 2001) to explain how and why I wrote a Teaching Philosophy Statement in the first instance, when it came to actually structuring and writing the TPS I used the excellent and succinct guidance supplied by Fitzmaurice & Coughlan (2007). The broad headings that I used are below:
My own TPS took around two weeks of refinement before I felt that it adequately summarised my approach to teaching and learning. I think it’s important to remember that a TPS is meant to be an unfinished piece: open to change as you continue to learn.
1.4) Reflection on the impact of current working context on self
Again this part of the reflective exercise bleeds into areas I’ve written about before, but I tried to summarise the main elements of my current working context:
Doing so made me think about how and where teaching fits into my working day and has an effect on how I perceive my professional identity. I surmised that the nature of irregular, on-demand teaching is such that it negatively influences one’s ability to plan long-term goals for yourself as a teacher and for your students as learners. On the other hand I would be reluctant to give up the other parts of my job that I love, such as evaluating and managing resources, tools & systems to focus exclusively on teaching. Working in a small library demands that my role is multi-faceted and can change from season to season and day-to-day, which keeps it interesting!
1.5) Awareness of the extent to which personal philosophy aligns with or confronts current institutional, national and international context and associated values
One of the key parts of the Rolfe et al. model is the “Now What” question which prompts you to think about what to do with the evidence you’ve collected towards your teaching portfolio/reflective writings/teaching philosophy statement etc., and what the next steps in your professional development might be. It can be difficult (although worthwhile) to self-evaluate. That’s why it’s important to try to gather more perspectives on your work/teaching – these can (and should) come from multiple sources such as peers, students and the literature as explained through Brookfield’s four lenses (1995). During the course of the portfolio, I sought student feedback and evaluated my teaching sessions using the DIEP model (describe, interpret, evaluate and plan), the one-minute paper, and other classroom assessment techniques described by Angelo and Cross (1993). As part of our micro-teaching sessions in the PG Dip we gave and received feedback from peers on our developing teaching practice both online and in-person which provided valuable insight into how our teaching and learning methods and assessments might be improved upon and how they aligned with our stated TPS. My TPS examined my role and responsibilities in my current job, and elsewhere in my portfolio as part of the introduction, critique and final reflection I examined the institutional, national and international context that I work in.
Lastly, I came up with a rough CPD plan for my teaching which highlights both key areas that I wanted to focus on improving and the practical issues that remain an issue going forward.
If anyone is interested in seeing my Teaching Philosophy Statement, or if you want more info on completing a PG Dip in HE, or what’s involved in compiling a teaching portfolio please get in touch; I’d be happy to share:
Angelo, T. A., & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Brookfield, S. D. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Fitzmaurice, M., & Coughlan, J. (2007). Teaching Philosophy Statements: A Guide. In AISHE Readings, Number 2, Teaching Portfolio Practice in Ireland: A Handbook (pp. 39–46). Retrieved from http://www.aishe.org/readings/2007-2/chap-04.pdf
Gregory, L., & Higgins, S. (2013). Information Literacy and Social Justice Radical Professional Praxis. Libraryjuicepress.Com.
Rolfe, G., Freshwater, D., & Jasper, M. (2001). Critical Reflection for nursing and the helping prefessions: A user’s guide. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Journal of Research in Nursing (Vol. 7). https://doi.org/10.1177/136140960200700511
Pagowsky, N., & Wallace, N. (2015). Black Lives Matter!: Shedding library neutrality rhetoric for social justice. College & Research Libraries News, 76(4), 196-214. doi:https://doi.org/10.5860/crln.76.4.9293