How We Made the Grade: The Journey from Lived Experience to Conference Presentation 


Published: February 24, 2020 by Enid Ocegueda and Michelle Peralta


Though online programs do their best to create educational environments comparable to brick-and-mortar classroom settings for its students, the virtual nature of distance learning can be challenging for students on many fronts, especially for those seeking professional networks, mentorship, and a cohort experience.  Current research on the experiences of people of color in Library and Information Science (LIS) programs, especially as they relate to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, tended to focus on students in traditional, in-person programs. We were interested in researching if and how our experiences as people of color at SJSU iSchool differed from those in other online LIS programs. 

Our Project

As more and more students begin to enroll in online programs and as more online programs become readily available for those unable to attend a traditional 4-year university, we asked the question: how are online students, especially those from marginalized backgrounds, becoming aware of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives? How effective are they in reaching their online students? Though our research barely scratches the surface to answer this complex question, we wanted to expand the discussion about DEI initiatives to include online programs, like that at SJSU, and whether and in what ways they support their POC students. 

Presenting at SAA

Given the timeline of our project, we did not believe that our results and analysis would be ready in time for full presentation at an upcoming conference, but we felt that we could show preliminary results of our survey as a poster. We wrote a proposal and submitted for the Society of American Archivists (SAA) annual meeting, which was to be held in the Summer of 2019., We received word that our proposal was accepted in Fall/Winter 2018. The beginning of 2019 saw us completing our analysis of our survey, as well as polling library and archives twitter for poster presentation do’s and dont’s! 

Decided upon printing our poster on fabric for ease of transportation, we used both Canva and Google sheets to put the poster together. We also weighed the option of producing a physical handout, but ultimately decided that we would place a QR code on our poster, which, when scanned, would lead the user to a public Google folder that contained a digital file of our poster, a copy of our survey questionnaire, and a list of references and resources we used when considering our project. A stack of business cards firmly in hand, we headed to Austin, Texas!

We were given two sessions to present our poster at SAA — each session was 30-minutes long and was held over two different days and times. We set up our poster the day before the first session, so we were ready to go for the “opening” of the poster presentation sessions. 

Between the two sessions, there was definitely more people in attendance during the first day. However, as the posters were kept up throughout the conference, we actually received interest in our research/poster via email during the times when we weren’t presenting our poster. People, in general, were receptive and interested in our future publication where we would hopefully give more details on the project!

Reflections and Next Steps

Presenting at SAA ultimately gave us the opportunity to see the value in our research first hand. Having received so many participants to our survey, it was fantastic to see a lot of engagement to our poster in-person. It was a great boost and motivation to continue on to the next phase of our project. Having now gone through several steps of the research process, we are currently shifting gears towards the writing out our paper proposals with the goal of submitting to open-access journals. We have identified a few journal options, and will continue to work with Lili Luo in writing a more finished piece of our research hopefully in the next year or two. We are very much looking forward to where our research will take us.


Great work!

Great to see you both, and your poster!
Good work! I look forward to hearing more about your research.

(Unfortunately I was only there to teach my pre-conference workshop and could not stay, or I would have seen you in person!)

Lori Lindberg

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