MLIS Core Curriculum Revised to Ensure Broad Foundation for Expanding Information Professions


Effective fall 2014, the San José State University (SJSU) School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) has reworked the curriculum for the core classes of the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree. The three core courses, LIBR 200, LIBR 202, and LIBR 204, were revised as part of an ongoing review of the MLIS curriculum to make sure the course content is current and provides a solid foundation for student progression in the program. 

A team of esteemed faculty from the SJSU information school, including Dr. Michelle Holschuh Simmons, Dr. Michael Stephens, Dr. Virginia Tucker, Dr. Cheryl Stenstrom, Robert Boyd, Dr. Debra Hansen, and Dr. Judith Weedman worked diligently to ensure that the core courses contained the most cutting-edge information on technology, best practices, pedagogy, and information skills, in order to prepare students for successful careers in the information professions.

“We have been working for many months to create classes that are innovative, forward-looking, and engaging for our students. We have structured the classes around a team-based instructional approach, so that students benefit from the wealth of knowledge our diverse faculty brings, and they will benefit from the personal perspectives and interactions from their own individual instructor,” said Simmons.

In an article for the Library Journal website, Stephens discussed how LIBR 200 Information Communities, now features a “flipped” classroom. “We’ve gathered experts to record a series of lectures on the various module topics,” explained Stephens. “This frees instructors to focus on the more participatory aspects of the course, such as commenting on student blogs, forums, social media, and one-on-one inter­action with students.”

Stephens believes the “flipped” design of LIBR 200 also arms students with essential job skills. In an interview for the SJSU SLIS New Student Blog, Stephens said, “Students who experience classes that are taught in a more participatory manner will be better equipped to interact, collaborate, and teach others in their communities.”

LIBR 202 Information Retrieval System Design has also received a thorough revision geared toward preparing graduate students for a career in the information professions. Tucker, who is the faculty coordinator for LIBR 202, intended the course content to apply to real-world job situations. The goal of the team working on the new curriculum was to make LIBR 202 “a course that is intensely relevant for all the information professions that the MLIS prepares students for,” explained Tucker. To reach this objective, Tucker said the new curriculum has broadened coverage of metadata systems, and that the faculty working on the changes also designed new learning experiences aimed at “understanding the decisions and elements involved in the design of information retrieval systems.”

In LIBR 204 Information Professions, students can also look forward to new teaching strategies aimed at maximizing learning outcomes. Stenstrom and Boyd said that they “wanted to take advantage of evolving technologies to create a rich educational experience for incoming students,” and so the course now incorporates new pedagogical techniques. “We think the new 204 is going to provide a strong foundation for students entering the program,” they added.

Simmons is confident the revised core courses prepare students better than ever with the skills needed to succeed in a variety of information professions. “We feel strongly,” she said, “that the revised content, the team-based instructional approach, and the innovative delivery methods combine to create a dynamic set of classes.”

To earn an MLIS degree from the SJSU information school, graduate students complete six required courses including the three core courses, and nine electives, for a total of 15 courses.

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