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Annual 2012 Discussion Group - Assessment

The topic for this year’s Discussion group meeting was assessment.  Participants shared what is currently done with assessment at their institutions which varied widely; from a three to five question surveys following one-shot instruction sessions to the assessment of e-portfolios using the ACRL standards.  Although many institutions had already created a culture of assessment, some were just starting to develop a plan for measuring distance learning services and/or instruction in a useful and achievable manor.

Participants discussed the purpose of assessment.  For instance, should librarians be assessing learning outcomes versus satisfaction with the instructor? What is the meaning of “learning” for librarians and how well are they suited to assess it?  Further questions were raised regarding the assessment of critical thinking, including whether it should be done at a higher university level instead of the library.  Participants were interested in finding out how to demonstrate the library’s contributions to student’s achievements.  Suggestions were: Alumni surveys (for contribution to lifelong learning), five year reviews, curriculum mapping, and information literacy being incorporated into institutional goals.  One participant cautioned that people should remember that what you measure may not be what is most important to patrons.   She felt it was important to allow for open-ended questioning to discover areas where you can improve services, as opposed to always trying to get patrons to pinpoint what they want from the Libraries.

Several suggestions were provided for how to keep assessment data, although some still found it difficult to find a perfect product, especially one which could tie assessment to standards. Examples of where assessment data is currently stored include:

  • Excel spreadsheet
  • Wiki
  • Task stream- for 5 year reviews
  • Program Assessment using Qualtrix- Use learning outcomes mapped to ACRL standards.  Informal approach using sampling.

Participants also discussed what to do with results.  The emphasis was on closing the loop and showing that changes have been made based on data that has been collected. One participant suggested creating a time line and identifying five things to respond to regarding the assessment data. Another recommended getting feedback from faculty to see if they notice an improvement in students who have received formal library training.  One person mentioned that success can be as simple as students remembering your name or providing a comment on your LibGuide.

For more information about assessment for distance education in libraries attend the DLS program at ALA annual in 2013 and see the following three presentations from this year’s Distance Library Services Conference

  • Listen to What They Have to Say! Assessing Distance Learners’ Satisfaction with Library Services Using a Transactional Survey
    Michael Alewine
    University of North Carolina – Pembroke
  • Aided and Embedded: The Team Approach to Instructional Design
    Leslee Shell, Steven Crawford, Patricia Harris
    Arizona State University
  • In it for the Long Haul: Lessons from a Decade of Assessment
    Susan E. Searing
    University of Illinois