Learning community as a model for cultivating teaching proficiencies among library instructors – a case study
Learning to teach can be achieved through formal teacher education programs, or through in-house training programs that are pedagogically designed to develop teaching proficiencies for subject and disciplinary experts. At Virginia Tech, a library curriculum was developed for a cohort of new library instructors to prepare them for teaching roles within the changing library environment. The cohort’s year-long experience used a learning community model that was designed to immerse participants in an instruction experience that involved practical exercises designed to not only create an understanding of theoretical underpinnings of the scholarship of teaching and learning, but also to provide participants the opportunity to develop a teacher identity that would help shape their techniques as library instructors. A cohort of 10 librarians and staff participated as members of the learning community, and were guided by three experienced instruction librarians as facilitators.
This paper discusses the rationale and goals of the Virginia Tech Libraries’ New Instructor Cohort, as well as the various methods and resources employed to cultivate teaching proficiencies of the participants. The paper includes preliminary outcomes of the program, evaluative feedback from the participants that were garnered via journaling during training, and recommendations for other institutions that may wish to adopt this model of supporting library instruction.