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Title:Riding the Waves: A Case Study of Learners and Leaders in Library and Information Science Education
Author(s):Montague, Rae-Anne Louise Ruth
Director of Research:Smith, Linda C.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Jenkins, Christine A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bruce, Bertram C.; Bishop, Ann Peterson
Department / Program:Library and Information Science
Discipline:Library and Information Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Library and Information Science
Distance Education
Social Learning
Abstract:This study examines learners and learning in the context of an established, multimodal graduate degree program originally developed as a distance education option. It is a learner-centered inquiry, building on Deweyan understanding, considering processes of individual and collective transformation within a particular educational environment. The context of the study is graduate education for library and information science (LIS), which provides exceptional possibilities for study of learners and learning. For instance, studying graduate level experience offers opportunities to consider learners as leaders. Additionally, disciplinary aspects of LIS are of particular significance. For example, LIS education is well suited to online environments because of the synergies that exist between technologies and professional practice based on information use. LIS, as this study, also generally emphasizes person-centered inquiry, an approach commonly referred to in LIS as user-centeredness. This case study is based on LEEP, a multimodal (synchronous + asynchronous + residential) program option at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, established in 1996. As LEEP is considered highly successful, in terms of growth, retention, data from course and program evaluations, awards, etc., it offers novel opportunities to explore emerging educational issues. Two aspects of this study deserve particular attention: program-level emphasis and hybridization. Program-level emphasis enables a consideration of learning experiences that extend between and beyond individual classrooms. Hybridization is based on LEEP as a multimodal program attracting both on-and off-site students. This research incorporates multifaceted data collection methods --participant-observation, surveys, and focus groups. These approaches facilitate an investigation of complex issues based on students' experiences as they progress through studies. Upon entry, students indicated intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and concerns related to joining the program. Students also shared details of the wide spectrum of competencies they bring into LEEP. During studies, students are involved in robust engagement spanning modalities at both the program and course levels. Within a context of ongoing support and interaction, they draw upon much of their pre-existing knowledge base as part of LEEP activities. In terms of collective engagement, as givers and receivers, students share encouragement, perspectives, information, and questions. Students' comments reveal the presence of an underlying competency based on service orientation plus communication. This seems to be the basis ofleadership development in LEEP. Within their experiences, students also encounter challenges, which may be considered counterforces. Some of their struggles are reoriented as opportunities to develop new competencies and build understanding. Towards the end of their programs, students reflect upon their experience and manifest significant transformation. The final section of the study proposes a model of learning and leading based on LEEP student experiences. This results in the development of new questions for future exploration.
Issue Date:2006
Rights Information:Copyright 2006 Rae-Anne Montague
Date Available in IDEALS:2010-11-19

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