Dr. Drew's Infrequent Blog

11 February 2006

Reflections on our Oral Exams

On Friday I proctored three oral comprehensive exams. All three did an excellent job. Many of the students who are anxious to go first often seem to be the most prepared.

I’ve been thinking about our oral exams quite a bit since I came here. Some of us on the faculty are proposing that we switch from the current system to more of a portfolio-based defense. UCLA has a good model for this, but the Graduate School said no the last time we proposed it.

It seems strange to me that the students who are most engaged in the program seem to stress so much about them, while the minority who really should have prepared much more do not seem to take it seriously. These are the ones who are bowling for a retake. On the other hand, I wish there was a way that we could pass some students with distinction.

I’ve noticed that more and more better-prepared students are studying together in groups. I think it greatly helps to get criticism, feedback, and build confidence. My only fear is that the group members tend to resemble each other somewhat. Some almost seem to match each other word for word at times, which is very disconcerting. I really can’t strongly enough encourage students to be present themselves as the unique future professionals that you really are, especially on the first question. You should mention the basics, but I really encourage you to briefly expound on your particular passions and philosophies. I would hope that after two years in our graduate program that you have some ideas of things you like and don’t like about the profession. This first question seems to me like the perfect time to start describing your philosophy. What would you look for in an employer? How would you change your library/ archive/ information center once hired? What are your library dreams? I get excited when I hear mention of any non-assigned LIS reading that influenced you.

I also have one tip that I often share with my advisees who ask: Do not read the questions (or sub-questions) aloud! You have only around 8 to 10 minutes to answer each one. Reading the questions makes it seem somewhat as if you have not truly prepared. The last tip is to not try to memorize everything. Cover details, use proper LIS terms (correctly), but you don’t want to seem as if reading from a script. Trust me, you don’t want to do that in an interview either.

These are only my personal opinions, but I hope are of some help. (back to grading...)


My younger (not my youngest) sister is planning to get married. Dev is now realizing how much stress can be (Ok, IS!) involved with planning schedules, budgets, and the like. I think she is a bit overwhelmed by it all.

I am very grateful for to my relatives who made it so easy for our ceremony; allowing us to do it at my aunt's and uncle's home in New York when the family would be all together for the holidays. I had some very happy memories the last time I was in the house. I'm not much of a person for ceremonies, but it really made me very happy.

Kronos Quartet Concert

I am pasting an announcement about a concert by my favorite modern "classical quartet." I am still debating to go -- or not, but wanted to pass on the word.

"Info: Feb 18 • Sat • 7:30pm • Orvis Auditorium • $30 general admission, $18 students and Honolulu Symphony musicians • Purchase tickets from any UH ticket outlet, order online at www.etickethawaii.com, or charge-by-phone, (808) 944-2697. ...

The Honolulu Chamber Music Series presents the fourth concert of its 2005-2006 season. The Kronos Quartet includes David Harrington (violin), John Sherba (violin), Hank Dutt (viola), and Jeffrey Ziegler (cello)

For more than 30 years, the Kronos Quartet has pursued a singular artistic vision, combining a spirit of fearless exploration with a commitment to expanding the range and context of the string quartet. In the process, Kronos has become one of the most celebrated and influential ensembles of our time, performing thousands of concerts worldwide, releasing more than 40 recordings of extraordinary breadth and creativity, collaborating with many of the world`s most eclectic composers and performers, and commissioning hundreds of works and arrangements for string quartet. Kronos' work has also garnered numerous awards, including a Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance (2004) and "Musicians of the Year" (2003) from Musical America."

08 February 2006

Amnesty International on campus (Manoa)

After class this evening I had a late dinner meeting at Volcano Joe's with a UH student, Aleina Hammonds, who said agreed to serve as Chair of our UH Student Chapter of Amnesty International. I am very happy that she will take that up. She seems like a good leader. We have a few people on campus who are interested, but it takes a combination of leadership and time to commit to making a difference. We will schedule our first meeting of the semester very soon.

In related "news," I was pleased that all of our Washington legislators (Senators Inouye and Akaka and Congress members Abercrombie and Case) sent very kind letters in support of our efforts last year to support the McCain anti-Torture Bill. Check out this if you have time.

Student Writing and Grading

I spent most of the day finishing grading papers. Both of my classes are full, so grading the way I do takes so much time. I am not sure how much some students appreciate all of the ink, but I feel that this is my job to help shape their writing. Since our class is so large, this is my one way of talking with them one-on-one. I think I see a difference in student's writing over time. I think that I am on the right track, since student writing was a big point in the practitioner's comments about LIS students at Gorman's Forum at ALA Midwinter.

In class today I thought we had some good discussion of key issues of collection management, but realize that I get wrapped up in some aspects. Teaching is an art, and it is hard to plan out 3-hours of lecture and discussion that is fresh. Lillian and Christian mentioned after class today though that I had confused one the future assigned readings with the other class. Ooops. Sometimes I forget that I deal with copyright/ intellectual property in both 610 and 615. I love teaching these classes, but it sometimes is hard for me to not blur content, as there is such overlap. Oh well. I will send out a clarification e-mail.

07 February 2006

Student Action-Research & Chotto Oishkanai

Today was a good day. I've been frustrated by the recent news that several school librarians might be fired because of Act 51. I proposed a rough action research / advocacy project to my foundations class. We will create a resource page highlighting research on how school librarians impact student growth. I am excited that this project might help make a difference. Some of the students seem energized. Some others also took the alternative option, which is good.

Later, after class we had a good ALA Student Chapter meeting. We have a lot of great student leaders who do a nice job, so it is a pleasure to be this group's advisor. We have another good set of plans and service projects. I hope we can try out (and win!) Student Chapter of the Year Award this time. They really deserve it.

After the meeting two of the student leaders and I went out to try Tsukeneya (Robata Grill: Tsukeneya-Style) -- the new Japanese restaurant next to campus. Maybe I am just not a fan of Nagoya-style food (like sunny-side egg on yakisoba), but I was rather disappointed. Marta said that they brought in a master tofu-chef from Japan. I love age-dofu, and was so excited, but the closest dish we had was closer to a toasted kitsune-bag. Bleh! I also love yakkitori and such dishes, but was not impressed. The best dish was a shitake mushroom filled with chicken. I wonder if this place will survive. Lots of places have gone out of business in that location. I don't know if an upscale place like that will survive there. It seems more ideal for Waikiki. It would have been better to put in a simple inexpensive izakaya there, being just next to campus. Oh well. At least the atmosphere is dark and attractive, especially the nice lanterns outside at night. In any case it will not end up on my list of suggested eateries in Honolulu. Some people suggested Shokudo, but I still haven't tried it.

Oh well, back to correcting papers...