INFO 204-02
Information Professions
Fall 2020 Syllabus

Dr. Carol H. Sawyer
Office Hours: Virtual office hours. Telephone and in-person advising by appointment 

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 19 at 6 am PT unless you are taking an intensive or a one-unit or two-unit class that starts on a different day. In that case, the class will open on the first day that the class meets.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

INFO 204 examines the organizations and environments in which information professionals work.  This course explores different specializations and career paths, professional communities, networks and resources, ethical and legal frameworks. The course also introduces management and leadership theories and concepts and applies them to different information environments. A special focus is placed on management responsibilities in order to emphasize the importance of these skills in the professional workplace.

Note: iSchool requires that students earn a B in this course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt, you will be placed on administrative probation.  You must repeat the class the following semester. If -–on the second attempt-–you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B-  but B) you will be disqualified.

INFO 204 Overview

As they respond to the information needs of clients and communities, information organizations face complex and exciting challenges. This course will help prepare students to take on these challenges by providing them with an understanding of the organizations and environments in which information professionals work, traditional and emerging professional roles, and core management and leadership theories. This knowledge will help students understand the similarities and differences amongst information organizations, explore different specializations and career paths, apply professional values to ethical decision-making, and to develop core management and leadership skills. This course prepares students to be active participants in their professional communities and networks and to become collaborative professionals ready to take on management and leadership roles.

Expectations of Faculty

As the faculty person for this course, I am committed to the success of every student, while holding all of us to high standards appropriate for a graduate program of study. I will be prepared each week; I check e-mail daily. I also anticipate accessing the online Canvas course site every day, unless I am on travel without internet access (I'll let you know if I have travel that keeps me away from Canvas for a day or two). I will comment on or grade assignments promptly with the goal of returning them to you within seven days of the due date, with feedback to help you continue to lift the quality of your work. By appointment, I can be available for a telephone call if that is needed in addition to any e-mail communication; I do not share my telephone number, but I'm glad to place a call to you.  I live in southern California and sometimes have been able to meet with iSchool students "in person". I believe that together we are responsible for creating and sustaining a safe environment that facilitates learning, openness, personal growth, and mutual trust and respect. I am passionate and positive about teaching and learning, with a life mission to recognize and realize possibilities and to facilitate that growth for others.

Overall Course Culture

It is an expectation that each of us will be open to new ideas, respectful, and tolerant of differing opinions.   We have a contract as joint participants in the course:  We are responsible for coming together as prepared professionals, with ownership of our time and a stake in ensuring that it is spent in ways valuable to us both individually and as a group.

Course Design/Structure

Beginning the first week of our academic term, a posting to the Canvas discussion forum and/or a graded assignment submitted to a dropbox is assigned almost every week. These postings, often requiring thoughtful engagement and discussion interaction with classmates will be due on most Sundays starting August 23 and continuing for the Fall Term (through and including Sunday, December 6).  Several of the postings are study group (team-based) assignments. These develop the course learning outcome #5: Demonstrate leadership abilities through collaborative teamwork. In other weeks, the discussion will be in response to assigned reading. Points vary, depending on the nature of the discussion forum assignment for the week. Two individual papers (a structured exploratory essay plus an interview report) will be submitted to the discussion site for sharing with everyone. The discussion location on Canvas is the “heart” of our work together. Across the term, there is potential to earn 115 out of the course total of 270 points through work (including papers) shared through discussions. Visit Discussions on Canvas several times every week.

Other individual coursework will be submitted to a private dropbox that only faculty can access to read your postings. Canvas designates these drop boxes as “Assignments”; classmates will not see your submitted work in this location. Here you will post your resume, assessments of the dynamics of a team-based organizational analysis, and, at the close of the term, a statement of your own philosophy of management, and an individual creative synthesis of your experiences in INFO 204. This “Assignments" location will also be the place to turn in five short individual and private journals in response to a Harvard Business Review article; that journal writing related to the practice of management is distributed across five weeks. In previous terms, students have found the journal assignment to be very popular and valuable; it offers an opportunity to observe managerial decisions and actions in response to the theory captured in the article.

Detailed guidance for every assignment is provided through Canvas. Please ask me if you would like clarification on expectations.  I will always telephone a student if we need that communication mode. I designate the first discussion forum location as a place to post any questions you may have that ask for clarification on an assignment or the overall course; using that Canvas feature means both your question and my response are visible to everyone, which can be helpful.

Course Requirements

Complete INFO 203 Online Learning: Tools and Strategies for Success. This is a mandatory 1 unit course that introduces students to the various e-learning tools used in the iSchool program, including Collaborate.  For more information, see INFO 203 Online Learning.

Writing Requirement
If the instructor finds that a student's writing is unacceptable, the instructor will require the student to sign up for online writing tutoring.  The student will ask the tutor to confirm with the instructor that he or she is attending sessions.

Weekly Reading Requirements

Reading is paced throughout the semester; it is important to stay current with each week's reading, which supports graded assignments and provides a foundation for the major class assignment, the team-based Organizational Analysis.  For most weeks the reading is approximately 75 pages each week.

Students will perform a series of activities relating to the information professions and organizational analysis.  (Course Learning Outcomes: #1, #2, #7, #9)

Exploratory Essay
Using LIS databases and other relevant resources, students will read, analyze, and respond to a scholarly article on transferable skills and competencies in the modern knowledge economy for library and information science (LIS) professionals. (Course Learning Outcomes: #1#2, #6, #9 plus Core Competency A).  The essay will be shared with classmates through a discussion forum.

Organizational Analysis
Working collaboratively in faculty-designated small groups, students will assume responsibility in teams to create an organizational analysis, in two parts, for an existing information organization. In the first part, each team will draft vision, mission, and value statements for the organization.  In addition, teams will produce a literature review and conduct an environmental scan including a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). Based on findings of the first part of the project, the group will articulate strategic directions for the information organization as the second half of the project. Goals will be measured by appropriate criteria specified and presented by the team.  An annotated bibliography will also be included in this second part of the report. Two peer reviews regarding individual contributions and performance on the team will be included and considered in determining the final individual grades for the team project.  This is a major course assignment.  (Course Learning Outcomes:  #2, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8 plus Core Competencies B, D, M & N)

Career Development
Students will be introduced to the extensive university Career Development online resources and are asked to submit their resumes.  In addition, students will also utilize the e-Portfolio function in the Canvas learning management system. (Course Learning Outcome: #2)

Interview Report
Each student will identify a managerial leader with whom to conduct an interview; the experience will be shared in a paper posted to the discussion forum.  Depending on the specific focus of the interview, this assignment will address one or more of the Course Learning Outcomes, with the exception of #4,#5, and #6.  In addition, the assignment addresses Core Competencies B and M.

Philosophy of Management
This is an individual essay that expresses values foundational for professional practice and managerial leadership.  The paper addresses Course Learning Outcomes #2, #6, and Core Competency M.

Professional Synthesis
A culminating creative individual synthesis requires students to reflect and respond to the major elements of INFO 204 and the information professions, supported and informed by the course and supplemental scholarly and professional material. Students will utilize an alternative format (e.g. website, wiki, podcast, video, Powerpoint, Prezi, etc.) to produce and present this culminating assignment. (Potential for any or all Course Learning Outcomes as well as Core Competencies A and M)


Assignment Points Due Date
Discussion Forum 5 or 10 points each (varies) Ten discussions, scheduled throughout the term in response to course readings
Five Journals 10 points each Journal assignment begins August 30
Exploratory Essay 15 points September 13; shared through the Discussion Forum
Organizational Analysis (Team-based) 50 + 10 points Part One on October 11; Part Two on November 8. Individual group dynamics reports earn 5 points each
Career Development 15 points November 15
Interview Report 10 points November 22, shared through the Discussion Forum
Philosophy of Management 10 points December 6
Professional Synthesis 20 points December 6

Assignment Deadlines
All assignments must be submitted before midnight (California time) on Sundays unless otherwise indicated. Late work will not receive credit/points.  When possible, in case of illness or emergency, please contact faculty prior to a deadline.

Course Calendar including Assignment Due Dates

Assignments are due by 11:59 pm California time on Sunday of each week unless an exception is noted. INFO 204
Information Professions
Dr. Carol H. Sawyer
Late assignments will NOT receive credit (points).
Due Date Required Reading

Specified reading should be completed before each week’s Due Date.

Additional short readings may be added throughout the term.
Assignment Due
[points possible]
Discussion Board Posting
[points possible]
The term begins on Wednesday, August 19, 2020.
The initial graded assignments are due on Sunday, August 23
This week is a time to explore our course Canvas site and start reading. Begin reading with Part I of Hirsh (68 pages); plan to complete that reading by August 30.    
Sunday, August 23

Read Harvard Business Review article by Gosling & Mintzberg ("5 Minds of a Manager").

Read Fraser-Arnott article as you begin work on the Exploratory Essay; see guidance provided in the Canvas module dated September 13.


Definition due by 11:59 pm California time [5 points possible]. 
DO NO RESEARCH; write only from your life experiences.

Post a self-introduction to designated discussion on Canvas; see guidance for details [10].

Sunday, August 30

Your reading of Part I of Hirsh should be completed at this time. 

Now “jump ahead” and read Part VI in Hirsh (25 pages).


Be sure to read through all classmates’ definitions and self-introductions, found on the discussion forum.

First personal journal posting based on HBR article [10]

Scenario discussion [10]

Sunday, September 6

Labor Day Weekend in US

Complete all reading of Hirsh, Part II (approximately 48 pages).  Read Kelley's article from Rotman Magazine.  

"Organizational persona" discussion based on Kelley [10]

September 13


Begin reading Part IV of Hirsh (approximately (126 pages, to be read over two weeks). Second personal journal posting [10] Exploratory Essay [15]
September 20

Compete reading Part IV of Hirsh and begin reading Part III (112 pages, to be read over two weeks). Personal journal posting [10] Change-based discussion [10]

September 27

Team-based organizational analysis is underway.

Complete reading Part III of Hirsh. Personal journal posting [10]

Culture-related discussion [10]

October 4

Wagner & Harter first reading completed (introduction and last chapter; approximately 14 pages).  Read Part V of Hirsh (96 pages).

Final personal journal posting [10]


October 11 Continue reading in Wagner & Harter; (the book has a total of approximately 200 pages, with required reading assigned across three weeks).

Team-based Organizational Analysis Report (Part 1) [20]

First individual group dynamics report [5]

October 18 Complete all reading in Wagner & Harter; read first 107 pages of Mintzberg    
November 1 Reading of Mintzberg now completed.  

Comments in response to Wagner & Harter reading [10];
Mintzberg discussion [10]

November 8



Team-based Organizational Analysis Report (Part 2)  [30] and

Second Individual group dynamics report [5]





November 15 Read Watkins article from HBR.

Resume posted [5]; SJSU Career Center services accessed; e-Portfolio work [5]

Discussion posting in response to exploration of Career Center [5]

November 22


Individual "Big Questions" developed and posted for discussion [10]

Interview Report shared and discussed [10]

 November 29


December 6

  Individual philosophy of management paper [15]; Individual creative professional synthesis [20]  

Details on all assignments are posted on the course Canvas site.

All students are asked to contribute to the SOTES course evaluation near the close of the term.

Other Important Information:

Additional short reading assignments may be posted on Canvas or readily accessed through the Internet. Two required books (one from Mintzberg and another from Wagner & Harter) will supplement and enhance our required basic text which is edited by Hirsh.  These additional publications provide richly detailed research-based professional narratives that are also highly readable. Discussion-based assignments link these and other short readings.  Required reading is well-paced across the term; the detailed course schedule indicates the approximate number of pages to be read each week, to support students' planning and time allocation.

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

INFO 204 has no prequisite requirements.

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the similarities and differences between various information organizations and professional roles from historical, current, and future perspectives.
  2. Recognize the roles and activities of managers in information organizations.
  3. Explain strategic planning processes and skills.
  4. Identify and choose appropriate assessment tools for evaluating organizational effectiveness.
  5. Synthesize (including reviewing, using and properly citing) the professional and research management and leadership literature.
  6. Demonstrate leadership abilities through collaborative teamwork.
  7. Analyze and assess their own and others leadership abilities through self-reflection and peer review.
  8. Apply management theories and principles, professional values, and ethical frameworks to organizational issues and decision-making using scenarios and case studies.
  9. Create and deliver high quality reports, presentations and organizational documents that communicate to internal and external stakeholders organizational values, missions, and priorities.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 204 supports the following core competencies:

  1. A Demonstrate awareness of the ethics, values, and foundational principles of one of the information professions, and discuss the importance of those principles within that profession.
  2. B Describe and compare organizational settings in which information professionals practice.
  3. D Apply the fundamental principles of planning, management, marketing, and advocacy.
  4. M Demonstrate professional leadership and communication skills.
  5. N Evaluate programs and services using measurable criteria.


Required Textbooks:

  • Hirsh, S. (Ed.) (2018). Information services today: An introduction (2nd ed.). Rowman & Littlefield. Available as free eBook through King Libraryarrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Mintzberg, H. (2013). Simply managing. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. Available through Amazon: 1609949234arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Wagner, R., & Harter, J. K. (2006). 12: The elements of great managing. Gallup Press. Available through Amazon: 159562998X. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA);
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, BS-ISDA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation. You must repeat the class if you wish to stay in the program. If - on the second attempt - you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

Per University Policy S16-9, university-wide policy information relevant to all courses, such as academic integrity, accommodations, etc. will be available on Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs' Syllabus Information web page at: Make sure to visit this page, review and be familiar with these university policies and resources.

In order to request an accommodation in a class please contact the Accessible Education Center and register via the MyAEC portal.

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