Koh, Ge, and Petrella receive the 2022 American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Research Grant

Kyungwon Koh
Kyungwon Koh, Associate Professor and Director of the Champaign-Urbana (CU) Community Fab Lab
Julia Burns Petrella
Julia Burns Petrella

A research paper co-authored by Associate Professor Kyungwon Koh; Xun Ge, professor of learning sciences at the University of Oklahoma; and iSchool doctoral candidate Julia Burns Petrella has received a 2022 American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Research Grant by the Educators of School Librarians Section of AASL. Sponsored by ABC-CLIO, these grants recognize "excellence in manuscripts addressing a persistent and recurring challenge in the field of school librarianship." The awarded paper, "Librarian-Teacher Co-Teaching and the Role of School Librarians in Facilitating Inquiry and Maker Learning," was recently published in School Library Research. Recipients will present their papers in October at the 2023 AASL National Conference in Tampa, Florida.

The three-year study, funded by an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) National Leadership Grant for Libraries (LG-81-16-0151), investigated inquiry and maker units in three public schools—one elementary, one middle, and one high school—in which school librarians actively co-taught with other teachers from different disciplines. Through interviews and field observations, Koh and her colleagues found the co-teaching occurred throughout the entire instruction processes, from co-planning to co-implementing to co-assessing.

According to the researchers, school librarians brought in expertise in inquiry processes, maker technology and mindsets, information literacy skills, and more, while classroom teachers brought differing expertise as the content-area experts. School librarians are reported to have used various instructional methods such as scaffolding, modeling, mentoring, and coaching. The co-teaching relationships evolved over time. The findings suggest co-teaching between school librarians and classroom teachers significantly facilitates learner-centered instruction, such as maker learning and inquiry learning, across all levels of schools. Participating teachers strongly believed the school librarians' role was crucial in making these highly individualized and creative learning opportunities possible.

"School library guidelines and standards have consistently emphasized the significant role of school librarians as instructional partners and collaborators," said Koh. "However, little is known about the processes of co-teaching, as a specific style of instructional collaboration, and the role of school librarians as they co-teach with classroom teachers. This study reveals different strategies and processes that school librarians used while co-teaching with classroom teachers to facilitate creative instruction in schools."

Koh's areas of expertise include digital youth, the maker movement, learning and community engagement through libraries, human information behavior, and competencies for information professionals. Koh holds an MS and PhD in library and information studies from Florida State University and a BS in library and information science from Yonsei University in South Korea. She also serves as the director of the C-U Community Fab Lab, a makerspace that supports campus and community members through research, university courses, engagement, programming, K-12 summer camps, and design and fabrication support.