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Faculty Build Course Assignments at Special Collections Retreat

By BTL on February 6, 2017 3:42 PM | Permalink

Faculty from the UNLV College of Liberal Arts and College of Urban Affairs recently had an in-depth opportunity to explore UNLV University Libraries Special Collections and build course assignments during the second annual faculty retreat hosted in January.

“We invited our faculty to participate in this retreat so they can learn more about the amazing historical resources housed in Special Collections,” said Su Kim Chung, head of public services for Special Collections. “During the retreat, participants worked on developing assignments for their courses drawn from materials in our collections on gaming, Las Vegas, and southern Nevada.”

The retreat was led by Chung and Priscilla Finley, humanities librarian, with assistance from Heidi Johnson, social sciences librarian, and Susie Skarl, urban affairs librarian. Funding for two-day retreat, hosted Jan. 11-12 in Lied Library, was provided by the Libraries Advisory Board.

In addition to learning about the major collecting areas, the seven faculty participants were also given a demonstration of online resources available through Special Collections in order to more efficiently discover information about collection materials for planning assignments.

“Many of the faculty in attendance had never accessed our collections, and represented disciplines as varied as sociology, foreign languages, English, public administration, and urban planning,” said Chung. “The retreat is an innovative way for our library and Special Collections faculty to work side-by-side to provide subject and collection expertise to the university faculty.”

As part of the retreat, participants built a course assignment based on the materials in Special Collections using a transparent design template. Discussion included what makes a successful assignment, and identifying the skills students need in order to search through materials in Special Collections.

“Each participant requested and spent focused time examining archival materials and rare books from Special Collections to begin drafting assignments,” said Chung. “The group then shared their assignment ideas and got feedback with their colleagues before finalizing their assignments.”

Several faculty members have requested joint instruction sessions to enable students to experience research in the online environment and explore the unique one-of-a-kind materials in Special Collections. Assignments designed during the retreat will be part of classes taught in spring and fall 2017.

Faculty members were enthusiastic about the retreat with one noting, “The tour of the Special Collections website and the opportunity to explore collections on my own was very valuable, and exciting.”

Another added, “I found the time and support to explore the collection to be the most valuable part of the retreat. I feel like the retreat allowed me to prioritize spending the time on curriculum development.”

One faculty member also highlighted the benefit Special Collections offers to her students. “I think students will develop a better understanding of the Las Vegas Valley through the materials that are not available online or in the stacks. Since I'm teaching them about their community, these resources are invaluable since they are not generally available elsewhere,” she said.

A second faculty retreat is tentatively planned for the end of the spring semester.