BUTLER LIBRARY LEARNING CENTER
IN 2004, the president of Buffalo Sate college organized a task force to develop critical thinking skills as a core element of the academic experience at Buffalo State College through the Intellectual Foundations program. One of the main objectives for the Foundations of Inquiry introductory courses and entire program is to impart the research skills necessary to use the library, databases, and the Web to weigh and to construct arguments and their conclusions.
The president’s objective was to Buffalo State among the national leaders in teaching critical thinking. (More information on the Intellectual Foundations Program is available at www.buffalostate.edu/intellectualfoundations.) In 2005, all incoming Buffalo State students—freshmen and transfers—began taking the Foundations of Inquiry course. This course is the cornerstone of the Intellectual Foundations Program, the new general education curriculum which began at the same time.
When the IF cour=se was being developed, the committee asked professors, “What should educated people know about your field?” The natural science faculty members gave priority to the big ideas underlying modern science—the Einsteinian revolution, evolution, plate tectonics—and the experimental method, which is the form critical thinking takes in the sciences. Other disciplines gave their responses and these were integrated into the IF program. This way the Foundations of Inquiry course will develop the critical thinking skills necessary for academic and career success while helping students make the transition to Buffalo State College. It will help our students understand the importance of a liberal arts education in a technologically progressive democracy. Each year students will refine their skills and acquire a higher level of knowledge, information literacy and the ability to create new knowledge.
FROM COMMONS TO LIBRARY LEARNING CENTER
In concert with this vision, we propose to consolidate the academic Skills Center, Writing Center, and the Writing Help Desk into the Library Learning Center at Butler Library. The Butler Library will reorganize the library commons to become a learning center that prepares students to develop these skills, do research, meet with professors and find all the resources to develop a thesis or dissertation at one location.
Many students believe that college is about getting professional training for a particular career. The LC will help them understand, at the outset, that a degree from Buffalo State provides such training within the context of a liberal arts education. With that knowledge, students will appreciate the general education requirements and the relationships among courses from diverse disciplines.
This center has four main areas: writing, research, research librarians in various disciplines and workshops.
Currently the three academic support services are provided in three different locations across the campus. The Academic Skills Center and Writing Center are only available to students with a refereal from a professor/instructor, and the Writing HelpDesk is open on a limited basis. By combining the three services, placing them in a location central to students, and eliminating the referral process, students will be better served.
HOW WILL THE SERVICES OPERATE?
Beginning in 2005, all incoming freshmen and transfer students must complete BSC 101, a FI course. This course teachers students the foundations fo learning and research. Our goal is to proved the following services to support this course as well as student learning across the campus.
WRITING CENTER: Previously the Writing Center was located in Hall. The English department and library have re-organized the center and it is now located in the Learning Center. The main focus of the writing center is to
RESEARCH CENTER: Our research center is staffed by research librarians who work with the departments to supplement and complement the work professors are doing in the classroom. We meet with the departments to see what research students are doing, look at what classroom instruction is being provided and then offer supplementary research training, consultation to help students do their research.
SUBJECT LIBRARIANS: After talking to the departments, we have developed a schedule for subject librarians to staff the kiosk in the Learning Center. Each day different research librarians from the humanities, sciences, business, etc. staff the center and work with students in that particular field. This way students can meet with librarians indifferent fields to develop an interdisciplinary understanding fo their particular field of study.
WORKSHOPS: Each week the LC offers workshops on different aspects of research, information literacy, technology skills and research writing. Our courses range from
SYNERGY: By concentrating these four areas into one area our students can begin a classroom project, come to the LC, and work with our staff to develop a research project or paper from start to finish. During this process, our staff will also collaborate with the professors to complement each other’s work.