MLIS Alumnae Publish Results of Collaborative Teaching Experiment


When San José State University (SJSU) School of Information alumna Talitha Matlin (MLIS 2010) needed professional development in library instruction, she turned to fellow SJSU alumna Allison Carr (MLIS 2006), and a successful collaboration was born. Matlin and Carr published an account of what they learned, “Just the Two of Us: Those Who Co-Teach, Co-Learn” in the current issue of Collaborative Librarianship.

Matlin explains in the article that she knew “early on” that she wanted to be an instruction librarian in an academic institution. Nevertheless, after landing a coveted job at California State University, San Marcos (CSUSM), she felt a little overwhelmed by her heavy teaching load. Matlin thought that working with someone familiar with her institution and students would really help her develop a “teaching identity” and blossom as a teacher. Carr, a tenured instruction librarian at CSUSM, met Matlin at the same time she herself was “having a hard time keeping my teaching and course content feeling fresh and innovative.” Professional development in the form of co-teaching seemed like a great solution for both instructors.

Matlin and Carr both gained a wealth of knowledge from the team teaching experience. Matlin explains in the article she co-wrote with Carr that she learned practical teaching skills and was given great insight into the culture of the university. Even more importantly, the co-teaching relationship helped Matlin explore her identity as an instruction librarian. “This relationship provided the space in which to discuss larger issues I was encountering, my feelings surrounding my instruction, and my burgeoning teaching philosophy,” explained Matlin. “The team teaching relationship was the basis for one of the most valuable professional development activities in which I have ever engaged.”

Carr also found great value in co-teaching with Matlin. The two instructors share similar teaching styles, and according to the article in Collaborative Librarianship, Carr was able to incorporate some of Matlin’s techniques in her “teaching toolkit.” In addition, working with Matlin encouraged Carr to think more about the practice of teaching. “I also learned how to be more intentional in my teaching, spending more time reflecting about what I do,” said Carr.  

Matlin and Carr collaborated in writing the narrative piece about their co-teaching experience as well. “Writing this article was actually a really organic process for us,” noted Matlin. “We had already been team teaching together for a semester before we decided we wanted to write something to share with others. It had really been an impactful experience, so we wanted to show other librarians a fresh professional development method.”

Sharing the experience of collaborative teaching is important to Matlin and Carr. Matlin explained, “We were very excited to publish our article in Collaborative Librarianship, especially because it is an open access journal. At CSUSM, the librarians emphasize the importance of providing free access to scholarly and creative works; this allowed us to ‘walk the walk’ of open access.”