NTU Library played host to a small group of seven librarians on 26 July 2023 under ‘A Day in the Life’ Programme. It was a full day with the following topics covered:
- Institutional Repositories & Open Access Policy
- Library Data Analytics
- The Role of Librarians in Academic Profiles
- Outreach Campaigns, User Engagement Activities, and Wellbeing Initiatives
- Outcomes-Based Teaching & Learning and Team-Based Learning Approaches to Library Instruction
Activities included presentations, quizzes, discussions, physical tours, and games. “Homework” was a group writing assignment capturing insights and learning points.
The organizing team had applied lesson planning, Outcome-Based Teaching & Learning (OBTL) principles, and reflective writing towards the planning and execution of the programme.
The learning outcomes for the Day, guided by the objectives of the Programme, are:
- Participants get to know one another better by socializing and working together – ample time was given for lunch and tea breaks to allow participants to interact with each other.
- Presenters use OBTL to design and deliver their sessions – the organizing team asked the presenters to use a lesson plan template to plan their sessions, craft their learning outcomes and learning activities, and write a reflection on their sessions.
- Organizers use OBTL to design and deliver the programme – the organizing team used the lesson plan template to plan the NTU Library programme, craft the learning outcomes, activities, and tasks, as well as prepare a written reflection.
- Participants distil personal insights from the various sessions regarding the various operations and management of NTU Library – participants are asked to work on a group writing assignment about the programme.
Participants met the learning outcomes of each session – the team will look for evidence that learning outcomes have been met from the presenters and participants’ reflections.
The organizing team was made up of 3 staff:
- Phoebe Lim, an experienced librarian but new to the Programme. She was responsible for planning the programme, coming up with the line-up and setting the assignments.
- Jeyalakshmi Sambasivam, a participant of the November 2022 run, was involved in planning the programme as well as communicating with the participants on the programme, liaising with presenters for their presentations.
- Andrea Liew, a senior executive in charge of the logistics and meals.
Using a lesson plan template to plan a staff development programme was new to the organizers. There was a certain degree of uncertainty whether this planning approach would pan out. Will presenters object to the planning approach? Will participants find the writing assignment tough?
Some presenters wondered if lesson planning is appropriate for a short one-hour session. But all agreed to give it a go. The advantages of using the lesson plan template soon became obvious.
The template ensures presenters pen down the learning outcomes and allows organizers to review appropriateness. Presenters were able to align assessment tasks or activities with the learning outcomes. It guided the presenters to vary the types of activity and assessment used. If there are too many lectures or the duration of the lecture is long, it shows up on the plan. Presenters took different approaches to write their reflections. One even used Gibb’s Reflective Cycle (Models of reflection – Reflective Practice Toolkit – LibGuides at University of Cambridge Subject Libraries). The presenters’ reflections have been collated in the next LAS bulletin post.
The team observed that the participants were comfortable with each other, bantering and chatting about a variety of topics. They shared openly about their work and were not shy to ask questions. It was clear that the participants were already familiar with each other. We had the benefit of being the last stop in the Programme.
From participants’ group writing assignments on the Programme, the team was able to confirm that learning outcome 5 was met. Participants also shared about how they felt about the NTU sessions and the Programme. The participants’ reflections were shared in preceding LAS bulletin posts.
What Was Done Well
The group writing assignments were completed ahead of time: one written and one video. Both were well done and engaging.
The presenters expressed the usefulness of the lesson plan in their reflections. They were able to reflect and evaluate how their sessions went and what improvements they would make if they were to repeat the session.
The planning approach worked well. Besides having a successful day, we also created documentation for the programme at the same time. These included the Programme plan, session plans, learning materials, presentation slides, and reflections. These can be made available to the next group of presenters for reference.
What Could Have Been Done Better
Most of the participants got lost. The team underestimated the extensive construction works around the library and should have provided better instructions to get to the meeting point. We also forgot to give out the small gift bags that Andrea prepared at the end of the day as planned. We only found out as we were clearing the meeting place but managed to give to those who were still hanging around.
Some of the tasks designed by presenters did not go as well as intended. If their sessions have a re-run, the session plans will require changes. We could have accommodated a physical tour to 2 more libraries.
We did not ask participants specifically for areas for improvement. It was a missed opportunity to collect data to help improve the programme. Looking back, we failed to design our feedback as we plan the programme.
Our university librarian suggested incorporating the following into future runs:
- Offer global perspectives
- Provide more networking for librarians
- Provide more opportunities to collaborate across institutions.
Personal Reflections by Jeyalakshmi
As I attended last year’s programme, it was exciting to reciprocate the hospitality. It gave me an opportunity to work with my colleagues and network with them.
There was a little tension to run a fruitful show for the participants. The reflections received from the participants about the programme gives me an immense satisfaction for the efforts we put in.
Since the organizing team met quite often to plan, the programme ran smoothly, and at the end of day, the participants all seemed happy and bonded together.
Phoebe suggested that presenters prepare lesson plans for their sessions. From this, I learnt about lesson plans and learning outcomes. It is a learning experience for some of the presenters as well.
I appreciate Andrea’s help in arranging the logistics like meeting place, food, and door gifts.
Hazel Loh, who is a member of the executive team, gave us tips and advice which were also helpful in improving our execution.
It was also helpful to communicate with Yasmin (a participant from NTU Library) to get her feelings/expectations about the programme.
I think sufficient planning, appropriate sharing of responsibilities, identifying the programme of the day, and the spirit to be a good NTU Library host were the keys to success.
It is an immense pleasure for me to learn from the vast experience of Phoebe, Hazel, and Andrea. Now, I can confidently volunteer to contribute to any library programme.
Personal Reflections by Phoebe
As the current LAS Chair of Training & Development, I spent considerable time reading up and studying professional development practices. I noticed an emphasis on reflective writing. After a few water-cooler chats, it seemed that librarians are perceived to be reluctant to write as it is time-consuming.
Determined to test this perception, I decided to ask the presenters involved in this Programme to do reflective writing. My goal is low: that reflections were done on time. It does not matter if they were long or short, well written or not. Everyone surprised me…pleasantly. One presenter even used Gibb’s Reflective Cycle to guide her reflection.
I’m more confident now that it is possible to incorporate reflective writing as a key component for professional development.
A short conversation with our university librarian prompted me to think more deeply about professional reflection. What constitutes reflection? How does one assess whether a reflection is good or not? What kind of assessment criteria should be set? Should there even be assessment? I have much to learn about this topic.
Documentation of the Planning Process
I noticed that the documentation for the previous programmes by NTU Library were mostly programme outlines and presentation slides. There are no programme or session plans.
I have always found planning documents important for the planning process and for future reference. I am fortunate to have found the NTU Library Workshop Documentation Template developed by the Library User Education Quality Review Panel. It was a familiar tool for our presenters, and they made good use of it.
I hope to build a collection of planning documents for this staff development programme. We have since started with this July 2023 cycle (Run 13).
Phoebe Lim, NTU Library
Jeyalakshmi Sambasivam, NTU Library