Andy Chen – Fellowship Reflections

Hi! My name is Andy Chen (he/him)—welcome to the blog! I am a rising bioengineering and mathematics junior that is excited to reflect upon my experience serving as a Library Fellow as the new cohort is welcomed to the community. 

As a future STEM educator that has always been impassioned about teaching, educational policy, and outreach, I arrived at UC Berkeley determined to make a difference in the learning community. From volunteering as a health educator with Peer Health Exchange to working for the Department of Mathematics as an undergraduate student instructor, I was thrilled to engage in the learning process directly. Working face-to-face with students and delivering course content to my classes reinforced my interest in teaching and mentorship. 

When I first learned about the Undergraduate Library Fellows program, I immediately knew that I wanted to apply. The program aims to promote peer-to-peer learning and foster the connection between the UC Berkeley library system and the undergraduate student body—initiatives that I was interested in learning more about and how I could make a difference in the Berkeley community. 

Under the mentorship of Kristina Bush, the Digital Literacies Librarian here at Cal, I undertook a project constructing a Library Guide for History C184D: Human Contexts and Ethics of Data Science. This is a course intended for data science majors and aims to give students training in making ethical decisions when working with big data by studying the complexity of human choices and social structures. As a student that has taken the course before and is interested in education, the project was a great opportunity for me to promote data science education in an increasingly datafied society. 

During the year, I met with the instructors and course designers to learn more about the resources that they wanted to provide to their students. Particularly, a core element of the C184D course is a final vignette project, where students are allowed to research and expand on an ethical dilemma in data science. For example, recent controversies over Facebook’s use of personal data, self-driving cars, and smart homes were the kinds of topics that students could potentially look into. As a Library Fellow, my goal for the Library Guide was to organize and consolidate the resources that were already contained in the course—research journals, papers, and news articles—and create a new hub on the site for students in various stages of the research process. 

Titled “Research Tutorial,” we focused on creating content for four stages of the research process: planning, discovery, analysis, and writing. With Kristina’s help, I was able to pose guiding questions to students looking for a topic, link out to library databases, offer systematic advice to evaluate credibility of sources, and direct students to writing resources. 

Creating and developing this Library Guide really changed my relationship with the Berkeley Library as I helped to engage students with the wealth of resources that the university has to offer. In many cases, undergraduate students may be unaware of some of the services that the library has; students can seek help from the librarian staff, navigate visual and aural resource databases, and learn how to effectively navigate scholarly information. My time as a Library Fellow gave me the opportunity to learn more about librarianship and how to disseminate copious amounts of information in a comprehensible way. If all goes well, the History C184D Library Guide will be a unique resource this fall for students to begin their work in data science ethics research—a special experience that is a bit different from the typical analytical work done in their major courses. 

My time as a Library Fellow came to a close last May, and I am so happy with all of the experiences that I have had and the people that I worked with along the way. The program helped me expand my passion for teaching and education to the broader Berkeley community. I hope that the connections that I have helped to strengthen between the Berkeley Library and the student body continues to grow and inspire the next group of Library Fellows!