DLESE Collections Committee

Academic Recognition Task Force Document.

By John Butler.



Creators of materials that are accepted into the reviewed collection of DLESE should receive academic recognition for their creative accomplishments. It is the responsibility of the Academic Recognition Task Force to insure that review processes and selection criteria are academically sound, defensible, succinctly stated and widely disseminated to those who serve as part of the faculty review.

Review processes and expectations for faculty accomplishment have a strong cultural component that is rooted in the academic backgrounds of the senior faculty and upper administration and in the institutional history. ARTF must be viewed in the same dispassionate way as an editorial board of a scientific journal or the review panel of a federal funding agency. ARTF will not become an advocate for promoting changes in a local culture nor will it promote the library by evolving into a marketing function.

Research, Teaching, and Service.

Denning (1997, 1014) recognizes four types of research that can produce innovations: (1) generating new ideas; (2) generating new practices; (3) generating new products; and (4) generating new business. In the first type of research a great deal of emphasis is placed on originality and novelty with grantsmanship and peer reviewed publication serving as a certification of both (Denning, 1997). A faculty member is practicing the second kind of research (2) when she/he offers new ways to think about, understand, and be competent in a subject. The emphasis of research is on "understanding that produces competence" (Denning, 1997, p. 1014). He notes that "a large number of faculty are expertly practicing the second kind of research while under the illusion that they are engaging in the first and not getting credit for either."

ARTF argues that the production of resources accepted for inclusion in DLESE is evidence of successful engagement in research (2), teaching and service - the trinity of almost all universities. We believe it is incumbent on the DLESE Steering Committee to devise a means of assessment that fairly, accurately and dispassionately addresses the effectiveness of the resources produced and that the established criteria be readily available for review and close scrutiny.

Of necessity, ARTF must work closely with those involved in planning the assessment, evaluation and selection processes. Members of ARTF have been selected to provide a broad but crosscutting panel.

(names omitted until people can be invited)

Gathering Input From The Geosciences Community.

In August of 1998 a survey was posted (http://www.uh.edu/~jbutler/anon/vpsurvey1.html) at the home page of the Virtual Geosciences Professor (http://www.uh.edu/~jbutler/anon/anonfield.html) Since that time about 1,200 individuals have loaded the survey page and more than 400 responses have been returned by email; approximately 350 are teaching geosciences at the college level. Nearly 67% report that their local review processes does not fairly take into account the effort expended in developing Internet-based resources or in teaching in general. Most commented that the time development takes is time taken away from those activities that will be seriously considered when tenure and merit increment decisions are made -- research funding and publications. To be fair, however, most did not comment on what they had done to assess the effectiveness of their Internet resources.

This is a self-selected group of respondents and these responses may not be representative of geoscience faculty in general. However, the survey responses (Butler, 2000a) suggest that there is merit in attempting a more systematic gathering of attitudinal information from geoscience faculty. ARTF will participate in the design, analysis and interpretation of the survey gathered information.

Several approaches will be taken in gathering both anecdotal and quantitative information. This phase can begin almost immediately and should be completed by the end of 2,000.

(I) The VirtualCoffeeRoom Listserv (http://www.uh.edu/~jbutler/anon/jblistserv.html) is a forum for faculty, staff and students interested in exploring the potential of the Internet in the creation of learning environments. The listserv has been in existence since April 1997 and has 216 subscribers (approximately 80% in the U.S.) as of February 2000). The archives of the Listserv at public (http://listserv.uh.edu/archives/virtualcoffeeroom.html). Project Sisyphus (Butler, 1999a) (http://www.uh.edu/~jbutler/anon/projectsysisyphus.html) was an experiment designed to determine if geosciences faculty were ready to discuss learning on a listserv (the VirtualCoffeeRoom). The experiment would be judged a failure on the basis of less than 50 responses over a three-month period. However, a number of thoughtful and thought provoking comments did surface. This listserv will be used to solicit anecdotal comments from the subscribers.

(II) The Virtual Geoscience Professor web site (http://www.uh.edu/~jbutler/anon/anonfield.html) had been published since July 1996. The site now includes links to nearly 3,800 Internet-based resources for the geosciences. Approximately 7% of these resources have been recognized as exemplifying good practices where a good practice site is one that I would recommend that someone explore if they were interested in seeing how their peers were using Internet-based resources and multimedia in general in their courses. A survey will be designed and distributed to the producers of these good practices. Emphasis will be on documenting the producer's experiences with respect to the evaluation of their efforts by their peers and administration. Each will be encouraged to define the criteria by which their efforts should be judged.

Phases I and II will be completed by September 2000. Results will be summarized and preliminary guidelines developed and shared with the appropriate DLESE subcommittees. These guidelines will be discussed by a focus group (about 20-25) held in conjunction with the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Reno, Nevada, in November, 2000. If desirable, a repeat focus group will be held at the AGU National Meetings in San Francisco in December 2000.

Early Implementation Phase - January 2000 through June 2000.

Discussions with the Steering Committee and the existing subcommittees will begin early in 2001. An AFTR web site will be developed that will serve as a repository for the criteria developed for assessment and selection. Producers of resources selected for the DLESE collection will be urged to refer to the web site in the materials that they prepare for their evaluation.

Examples of possible activities during the early implementation phase follow. A small icon, which identifies a resource that is part of the overall collection, will be prepared and sent to each developer of accepted resources. These digital merit badges are a relatively subtle way of illustrating acceptance and can be linked to DLESE.

The technology committee will devise a tracking system that allows the producer and library to assess the characteristics of the community that uses each resource. These summaries (location of user, frequency of access, etc.) can function as electronic citation indices. Reports will be distributed periodically and will be available upon demand.

When a resource is accepted for DLESE, the developer will be asked to provide the names and addresses of individuals who should be notified. Each named individual will receive a letter from DLESE that includes a link to the ARTF page.

With time ARTF will shift its individual energies to the other projects and will become the maintainer of documentation and watchdog of practices bearing on recognition.

Budget - 1 year.

Estimated $5,000 for supplies, expendables and appropriate travel.