Happy Friday!

This week Karen and I have been working on revisions to last summer’s first edition of what we called the “Faculty Tech Guide” – an intro to all things ‘tech’ from Information Services.  With this summer’s reorganization and changes in how CTLT and ITS share news with new faculty, we’ll be updating the content to focus more on library services.  We’ll still coordinate with CTLT and ITS (and others) to keep some of that campus-wide tech flavor that faculty found useful. We’re also beginning to outline and plan our 2015 annual publication (that’s the library’s ‘glossy’ magazine, sent to donors and friends), which we want to mail out before the winter holidays. 

We had a visit this week from Dr. Erika Rogers, who taught at Cal Poly in the Computer Science program and also served some years ago as the head of the Honors Program. She joined the Academic Services librarians to tell us what she’d learned from her informal masters thesis coaching pilot program last year, sponsored by the office of Graduate Education.  She met students one evening a week in Room 303, opposite the third floor grad study lounge.  The program was successful in reaching and helping many students, who were able to complete their theses – and the library location was a key part of the program’s success! The program will continue next year. During her meeting with us Dr Rogers shared several ideas for other simple but powerful things that could also help grad students complete their theses. We agreed to follow up on two immediately:  (1) creating grad-student targeted workshops on digital tools (e.g. creating tables and figures in your thesis); and (2) creating a virtual “Grad Portal/Hub” to help grads discover tools and resources that will help them. 

Earlier this week the Associate Deans met to brainstorm best practices that support diversity and inclusivity at Cal Poly.  Since the meeting I’ve been wondering, how do we not set up underprepared students for failure in ‘gateway’ courses like Calculus? Is there a role for required placement exams (not SAT or AP scores) to pre-identify students who haven’t had enough preparation?  On the other hand, how do we support students quickly when they start to falter in these courses?  Finally, how much of a factor in success are our internalized ideas about ‘innate’ brilliance or ability?  Last winter a study about this (Expectations of brilliance underlie gender distributions across academic disciplines“) was published in Science. Their conclusion:  “If we avoid labeling and categorizing others based on their perceived intellectual gift, and instead assess what can be achieved with sustained effort and dedication, we might create an atmosphere that is equally attractive to men and women.”  This made me think of what’s been called the “Mozart myth,” as debunked in How to Fly a Horse

“[Mozart] was exceptionally talented, but he did not write by magic. He sketched his compositions, revised them, and sometimes got stuck. He could not work without a piano or harpsichord. He would set work aside and return to it later. … Masterpieces did not come to him complete in uninterrupted streams of imagination, nor without an instrument, nor did he write them whole and unchanged.”

Enjoy the weekend,