Gemstone: Quality in Learning for a Collaborative Academic/Library Instruction Program
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This poster focuses on University of Maryland librarians’ participation in an innovative, collaborative program where instruction extends beyond a typical library session, providing students with a quality learning experience over the course of four years. The program, called Gemstone, is an interdisciplinary honors research program and involves collaboration between librarians, faculty, program staff, and undergraduate students. During the first year of the program, the students attend classes that help them prepare for their research. After forming research teams, they spend the next three years designing and conducting a research project that focuses on the intersection of science and technology with society. This experience facilitates the development of research, teamwork, communication, and leadership skills, and culminates in the students’ defense of their thesis, orally and in writing, to a panel of experts. Librarians are involved in the first year of the program through a class called GEMS 100. The librarians teach a session of the class where they introduce research tools and lead the students in critical thinking exercises to turn their potential topic ideas into research questions. During the remainder of the program, the librarians partner with a particular team. That partnership includes helping the students with research strategies on an informal basis, reviewing and critiquing proposals and presentations, and attending the Junior Colloquia and final Team Thesis Conference. The librarians and faculty mentors assigned to each group also meet several times a year to compare notes about improving the quality of assistance for the students' research efforts. By having librarians work closely with them throughout the research process, students further benefit from the advice, feedback, and expertise in research skills that the librarians provide. Thus, the librarians have the opportunity to provide quality, hands-on service over an extended period of time leading to an enriched learning experience.