Competency M

Standard

Introduction

Competency M requires students at San Jose State University to Ischool graduate program to demonstrate oral and written communication skills necessary for professional work including collaboration and presentations 

As information professional communication is a key skill to possess because so much of being an information professional is related to the dissemination of information. This requires at its most basic and inherent level a need for the ability to communicate effectively. Information professionals need to be able to talk, listen, read, and write to fulfill our most fundamental job requirements. An information professional positions exist to provide,” the right [objectified] information from the right source to the right client at the right time in the form most suitable for the use to which it is to be put and at a cost that is justified by its use”(Mason, 1990, p.124). Connecting users to information is a major component of being an information professional. Understanding that a user seeks assistance from an information professional because they have an information need. An information professional, “has the requisite knowledge about and access to the sources necessary to acquire this information” (Mason, 1990, p. 126). It takes effective communication skills to impart the knowledge that information professional possesses to users who need the information and access to obtain knowledge.

Many information positions including reference positions require daily interactions and communications with patrons both face to face and frequently virtually. Instruction positions in the information field also require excellent oral and written communication in order to teach individuals information literacy skills. In nearly every type of information professional position from management to cataloging there exists the need to effectively communicate with others. According to Evans and Alire (2013), “During your career, three communication skills will stand out and impact your progress-oral, written, and listening”.  Information professionals must listen effectively to understand user’s information needs, capable of expressing themselves in written format to fulfill virtual requests for information, and communicate orally to productively provide patrons with information either face to face, virtually, or via phone. In order to be successful in the information science field, you need to possess good communication skills. Information professionals also need to be able to professional communicate via writing and in oral connects to effectively manage in an information organization. Managers need to write memos, emails to staff, and often write policies that need to be easily understood. Evans and Alire (2013) state that the following questions can improve written or oral communication:

  • What am I trying to Convey?
  • With whom am I communicating?
  • When is the best time to do this?
  • Where is the best place?
  • What is the best channel?
  • Why am I communicating?

When we stop to ask ourselves these questions prior to communicating with others we can improve the effectiveness of our conversations with others.  When we take time to actively listen to others when they are communicating we become more effective and responsive managers. Listening effectively allows staff members to be feel heard and understood.  Evans and Alire (2013) assert that, “There is a significant difference between hearing and listening. Listening is a skill that you must practice to develop it effectively”. This is an important skill to managing individuals in libraries so that complaints and ideas can be heard and considered. Communication and listening efficiently also helps to make staff members feel valued and understood. Communication is also important when working collaboratively, as a liaison between departments or organizations, and negotiating with vendors. These types of communications can impact a libraries operation, funding, expansion, and access to resources. These are vital aspects of the information profession that can affect users, staff, stakeholders, and community members. Unclear or poorly written reports given to a library board of directors or institutional administrators can mean the difference between receiving necessary resources or risk appropriation of resource to other departments or organizations. Information professionals need to be able to clearly communicate and add meaningful contributions to information exchanges. As information professional needs to able to hear a patrons request, ask clarifying questions to gain an understanding of the information need, to disseminate information, and check with the user to ensure that the answers meet their needs.  These are all important components of communication and feedback.  Bell (2015) reiterates Robert Taylor’s quote that, “Without a doubt, the negotiation of reference questions is one of the most complex acts of human communication. During this process, one person tries to describe for another person, not something he knows, but rather something he does not know”. In order to conduct reference interviews either face to face or virtually information professionals must have excellent professional oral and written communication skills.

Evidence

INFO 250 Guide on the Side Tutorial

INFO 203 Personal Skills Teamwork assignment

INFO Group D Team Progress Report

Collaborate sessions for INFO 204 group project

Collaborate Sessions for Info 204

My first piece of evidence is my Guide on the side tutorial from my INFO 250 course in Design and Implementation of Instructional Strategies for Information Professionals. Guide on the Side is an open source tool for creating online tutorials. It was developed by the librarians at the University of Arizona.  Students were assigned to work in groups to create a Guide on the side tutorial that includes at least three different media: text, images, quizzes/surveys, etc. Students were asked to think about the best practices put forth in the professional literature about online tutorials and to implement those concepts. The quiz feature is meant to be a check for understanding (formative assessment), and it allows only for a single correct answer. The feedback is provided through a pop-up to the learner. The survey feature is intended to provide feedback to the creator of the Guide about the effectiveness of the Guide (which would happen with a survey because you provided your email address in the setup). Students were also asked to write a reflection that describes what you and your partner were trying to
accomplish with the tutorial, what pedagogical considerations you made as you designed
and created the tutorial, what you learned about the process of creating online tutorials,
and what you might do differently the next time you create an online tutorial. The assignment required students to incorporate at least two articles or books from the professional literature. The reflection was required to shows your groups ability
to apply the theories learned about throughout the course. My partner and I collaborated to create the tutorial both contributing to the creation of the tutorial adding quiz questions equally. The tutorial was a collaboration of a database she was utilized frequently and a subject matter that was familiar to me from my work experience. This assignment is included as evidence of my ability to communicate effectively and work collaboratively.

My second piece of evidence is my personal skills teamwork assignment from INFO 203 course on Online Learning: tools and strategies for success. Students in this course were asked to work in small teams to create a list of ground rules that a team could use to organize their work. The teams were asked to determine team roles, create a short list of ground rules that a team could use to organize its work, and complete a personal reflection on the group work process including their assigned role on the team and how the work was completed. My position in this team was the team leader as the group leader I facilitated the assignment of roles and creation of the ground rules for the team. I included this assignment as evidence of my ability to communicate effectively and collaborate professionally with other information professionals.

My final piece of evidence is my group D progress report from my INFO 204 course on information professionals. In this assignment, the groups were to collaborate in Blackboard Collaborate sessions to complete a group project. This assignment required the group to choose roles, create ground rules, create a timeline for work completion, to define the roles and responsibilities of each group member, to choose an organization to analyze, and consider the challenges related to working in a virtual group. In this group, I served as the editor and assistant writer for the group. I included the written assignment as well as recordings of our group collaboration to demonstrate my ability to communicate professionally using both oral and written skills to complete a group project.

Conclusion

I think one of the most beneficial aspects of returning to graduate school after a long break was the group work. Working collaboratively via virtual means gave me a better understanding of the varying skills necessary to perform group work virtually in differing time zones and from diverse backgrounds. SJSU has given me in general during my time a better understanding of professional communications and teamwork skills. I have enjoyed the update on my communication skills and development of new skills appropriate for the virtual world that we live and work in on daily basis. My coursework has enhanced my skills and approaches to committee assignments. My years of experience teaching and assigning group work in my classrooms demonstrated to me the importance of group collaboration on projects. However, working in groups on a professional level to complete assignments virtually provided me with all new types of communication and technical skills needed to complete assignments as a group. I found these experiences rewarding and I believe that my skills are much improved due to becoming more deliberate in the use of communication techniques and methods. My time at SJSU has given me a better understanding of the processes behind professional communications and has developed my skills in this area in a multitude of ways.

Sources

Bell, S. S. (2015). Librarian’s guide to online searching (4th ed.) [Kindle DX version].

Evans, G.E., & Alire, C.A. (2013). Management basics for information professionals. (3rd ed.). Chicago: Neal-Schuman.

Mason, R.O. (1990). What is an information professional? Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 31(2), 122-138. doi: 10.2307/40323396

 

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