Creating a curriculum timeline: a story of two pilots
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The curriculum mapping group of CILN was tasked with creating a timeline which would help librarians align their information literacy teaching to key ‘events’ across the academic year.
Before we tackled obtaining key curriculum deadlines for every subject across Cambridge, we tested the process within the group by gathering data for our ‘own’ subject libraries and left it to individuals to present it in the easiest way for them. The result was a mixture of word documents and Excel charts of varying depth and detail which we assessed as a group, bearing in mind the following questions:
- What are the most significant types of events that would influence potential library IL teaching for each subject?
- What is the best way we can make this information accessible to all?
- How can we make updating the curriculum map sustainable?
After much discussion, we identified key events across undergraduate & masters courses based on our analysis of this initial data – preparation deadlines (such as thesis title submissions), submission deadlines, exams and placements. We drafted a short Qualtrics questionnaire to see if we could gather the relevant information and each member of the group tested it by entering their own data. Unfortunately, it did not work well! We could not manipulate the data in the way we wanted to and could not see how to construct a usable timeline.
So, we decided to run a second pilot using Google Spreadsheets. We created two workbooks for Undergraduates and Master’s students and split the data using a sheet per month for the academic year. To avoid the need to repeat the process annually we only recorded the month that an event took place rather than the specific date. We tested it again within the group and found that it worked quite well. We added an additional note field so that Faculty librarians could detail specific IL interventions they ran to coincide with the event and then began the process of roll-out across the Library community.
Faculty and Departmental Librarians entered the information for the taught courses that they supported over the summer of 2018. This worked better for some courses than others as there was variation in the amount of access librarians had to the students’ timetables. In some cases it was necessary to contact administrators but by this point exams had begun, so there was a further delay in receiving the information. It was a very time consuming process for people that didn’t have the information to hand, especially those working in small teams and we would like to acknowledge the work that everyone who completed the forms put in and thank them for their time.
By the beginning of Michaelmas Term 2018 key event information for the majority of taught courses (not all) had been entered on the documents and the links to the maps were distributed to FDL, CCLF and the UL.
We received some positive initial feedback from College Librarians, but it would be good to know how useful the timelines actually are before considering whether to update them for next academic year.
Vicki Clarke & Angela Cutts (June 2019)
With thanks to the Curriculum Mapping Group: Jennie Skinner, Amy Theobald, Clare Trowell, Clemens Gresser, Edward Carlsson Browne, Emma-Jane Batchelor & Veronica Phillips.