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Sacred Heart University Library Newsletter for Faculty No. 20 (February 2020)

An occasional newsletter for faculty members of Sacred Heart University

Three Books That Can Inform Your Teaching

Three Books That Can Inform Your Teaching

Three very different books take a good look at our students’ experiences that they bring to the classroom.  The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes Us or Breaks Us by Paul Tough looks at the challenges  of applying to college, staying in, and finishing.  Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost by Caitlin Zaloom (a JSTOR digital book) looks at the family conflicts and stresses built into the high-stakes, high-cost  college experience. Why They Can’t Write: Killing the Five-Paragraph Essay and Other Necessities by John Warner looks at now only how we teach writing, but the bigger issues at stake in almost any class assignment.  Read these books, and you will sit in our students' seats –tolle, lege, take and read.

Tough tells good stories, and his book is hard to put down. He shows in detail how well-off families game the system, and how the higher education system allows itself to be gamed.  He explores how different affluent colleges are from those which are insufficiently funded, and how at-risk students often do not possess the skills, tenacity, and good fortune to jump through arbitrary hoops and negotiate complicated financial circumstances.  You will understand how colleges work best for the affluent, the ambiguous role of the College Board, and how higher education winds up sustaining the many, present, socio-economic disparities that foster so many political and social divides.  Faculty may be particularly interested in Chapter 5, "Letting In" on the admissions-industrial complex, and subsequent "Staying In" and "Hanging On" on how students do or cannot complete their degrees, and what helps and hinders them. 

Zaloom's Indebted takes on the social and emotional realities families have to negotiate to sustain enrollment and expenses, and the "enmeshed autonomy" with its  "nested silences" that enable both students and parents not to discuss the levels of stresses that each endure.

"Today being middle class means being indebted.  It means feeling insecure and uncertain about the future, and wrestling with the looming cost of college, and the debt it will require.  It means being dependent on finance—and, crucially, on family—in ways that analysts of class, culture, and economy have not fully registered." (page 1) "I show how the system for financing higher education sets traps for students and their parents . . . . At its core, [this book] is about the largely unexplored ways that the financial economy has shaped the inner dynamics of American middle-class family life by forcing parents to confront the problems of paying for college." (page 3)

Why They Can't Write (discussed in a current series of lunch-time conversations in the CEIT) reads quite differently from the perspectives of Tough and Zaloom: student writing has become an extension of the academic-industrial complex that students negotiate to get a degree.  (Warner's discussions of student depression and anxiety are worth taking time to read.) Real learning can be overshadowed by test-taking, and the result is not only sub-standard writing but disengaged, distracted students (some with excellent reasons for their divided focus).  One cannot recommend these books highly enough --for summertime reading if not now.

Images: How to Find Them & How to Use Them

Images: How to Find Them, How to Use Them

Although a picture can say a thousand words, images do not really explain themselves.  An image needs context to make sense.  When you include information with an image, you add to its credibility and acknowledge an image's creators and publishers.  News media, scientific illustrations, diagnostic images, and geographical images (as well as art and museum images) convey information otherwise impossible to communicate easily.  Wise use models for your students how you want them to employ images and give credit to their creators.

 It's easy, right? just go to Google Images

Imagine you were trying to see what's in a locked room through a very small window or keyhole.  Do you think you could describe everything in that room? That is what Google image search results are like: a very wide range of objects presented as very narrow results.  Do you trust Google to show you the best image, the right image, one that has not been deceptively edited? Would you automatically trust your students to do the same?

The library guide How To Find Images & How To Use Them aims to demystify how to find all kinds of images (news, illustrations; scientific, medical, and art images among others).  How to use images: the many issues around rights, reproduction, copyright, editing, and intentionally misleading images.  Do you use only words in your teaching?  You can save preparation time by learning how to use images wisely, how to find them reliably, and how to credit them appropriately.  Here is a self-paced video from Artstor --not just about using Artstor, but using images responsibly in teaching and learning:

LibKey Nomad

LibKey Nomad: One-click access to millions of scholarly articles.


LibKey Nomad and finds .pdfs of articles in PubMed, Wikipedia, and nearly all of the library’s databases.  LibKey Nomad uses the same knowledgebase (list of journals) that Browzine uses, which is regularly updated by the Library. LibKey Nomad also integrates visually directly in PubMed search results and Wikipedia documents.  This makes PubMed search results far more useful to novice researchers.  It can also scan results of Google (and other search engines), and identify results available through the library.  You don't have to establish a login or identity to use LibKey Nomad, and you can change institutions if you have credentials for another academic library that uses it.

Libkey Nomad will ask you to declare your institutional affiliation upon your first use, but your credentials (SHU network ID and Password) are never stored there, and Libkey Nomad does not track your behavior.  Libkey Nomad can find both paywalled, published versions of articles to which SHU users have access, and Open Access versions by using Unpaywall data.  (Unpaywall is another browser extension especially for legal open-access versions of articles.)

Libkey Nomad is a great way to save time, and it is so easy to use that students like it, too.  You can guide them to sources when the use Wikipedia (which they will use!) much more easily and efficiently, and by explaining Open Access, you can contribute to their literacy with information

Available on: Chrome (ThirdIron is working on a Firefox add-on)

Setup: You will have to choose a library (Sacred Heart University —see the image below), but you do not have to establish an account (unlike Kopernio). Go to the Technical FAQ for more information.

Pros/Cons: Pro: LibKey Nomad more accurately guides you to Library journal subscriptions and databases (updated). It respects your privacy, and is visually clear. Best to use with PubMed. Con: Does not offer a “locker” for article storage; does not format citations.  NB If you use both Kopernio and LibKey Nomad, the “flag” popups in the lower left-hand corner of your screen may overlay each other.

LibKey Nomad screen

Choice Reviews for Faculty

Choice Reviews for Faculty

Some faculty may remember “Choice cards,” bi-monthly cards with reviews of books that could be added to the Library. Choice Reviews not only updates the cards, but makes it possible to suggest library purchases through GOBI, one of the library’s primary book sellers.  Choice Reviews offers many ways to qualify a search: for example, filter by readership level, recommendation level, recency, or interdisciplinary searches (example: “urban studies”).

Signing up for a Choice Reviews is simple, and librarians can assist you with setting up an account in GOBI.  Choice Reviews offers many ways to qualify a search: for example, filter by readership level, recommendation level, recency, or interdisciplinary searches (example: “urban studies”).  You must set up your account on the SHU campus (in-network) or when you are directly connected to the SHU network via SHU VPN.

Choice Reviews coordinates well with library selectors as well as your personal account on Amazon books.  Most books will have links both to GOBI (a library print & digital book vendor), and Amazon, where you can log into a personal account if you have one. If you establish an account in GOBI, you can build recommendation lists for your library liaison.  An unanticipated side-benefit of Choice Reviews is to screen your professional reading list: what in your fields is highly recommended, problematic, or an update of another work? (--possibly a classic in the field).  If you are preparing a book, Choice Reviews also can help you to discover which publishers might be really interested in your manuscript.   If you would like assistance with setting up a Choice Reviews account, or to set up a GOBI account, please ask your library liaison team --and if you don't know who they are, they are listed here.

If you want to see more about setting up a Choice Review personal account, see this short video tutorial:

Bonus Resource: Research911 with Library Tutorials

Bonus resource: Research911 with Library Tutorials

​Research911 is a video library guide for the student writer who is truly out of time --bad planning? illness? scheduling conflicts? job?

All faculty know that some (many?) students tend to put things off until the last minute.  This research guide made of quick video tutorials is meant especially for them -- you might want to point this out to your classes, especially a session or two ahead of when a significant assignment is due.  Who knows? You could get results that show better use of sources & citations!