Honey, I Shrunk the Workshop! Learning to Scale for Smaller Institutions

Antioch University New England (AUNE) is a graduate school in Keene, New Hampshire with roughly 800 full-time and part-time students. AUNE draws students from all over the world, and while a number of students live close to campus, others - whose classes may meet only once a month - live farther away. While students and faculty have repeatedly expressed interest in workshops, due to the lengthy commute many students face - among other factors - workshop attendance, both in-person and online, has historically been low. Rather than accepting defeat, Research & Instruction Librarian Rachel Sperling and Writing Center Coordinator John Dunham were inspired by other institutions’ success stories in implementing thesis and dissertation “boot camps”. After last year’s ACRL conference, they sat down with various student groups, studied data collected after previous attempts at workshops, and came up with a proposal for an all-day, scaled down Research and Writing Boot Camp, which would take place on campus, but include a virtual component for students who could only attend remotely. The boot camp took place Sunday, October 29th, 2017 in the AUNE Library and ran from 8:45 am to 4pm. The boot camp consisted of a series of mini workshops, conducted by Rachel and John. Workshop topics included Research Strategies, Good Writing Hygiene, Citation Management, Overcoming Writer’s Block, and Copyright & Permissions. Workshops were interspersed with dedicated writing and research time, during which students could also sign up for consultations with either Rachel or John. Lunch and snacks were provided. Students used Adobe Connect to join the boot camp from off-campus. Nine students attended: 5 virtually, 4 in person. Initially, more students had signed up to attend in person, but due to the inclement weather a few either dropped out or elected to attend virtually. The small number of students attending made set-up easy. Students sat around a U-shaped configuration of tables, with Rachel and John on either side. Equipment included two laptops, a microphone, a projector, and screen. While one person led a workshop, the other would monitor the chat room in Adobe Connect, so students attending virtually could ask questions and interject comments. Attendees opted for more dedicated writing and research time in lieu of the last two scheduled workshops (Overcoming Writer’s Block and Copyright & Permissions), which had been more geared toward dissertation writers. The scheduled lunchtime nature walk was also dropped, due to the rain, though a couple of brave attendees went anyway! Ultimately, the boot camp was a successful first attempt. Feedback was positive, and several attendees expressed an interest in future such events! Students felt that the fact that it was a full-day event made it worth their travel time. Online attendees felt included, and in-person attendees were not distracted by the technology.
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Publisher Version
Embedded videos