The first participants in ACRL’s Assessment in Action program presented results from their projects at poster sessions at ALA Annual in Las Vegas, and their results are also being disseminated in library publications and conference presentations. We’ re thrilled to see more value-related research making its way into the world, and will be featuring synopses of projects and a brief Q&A with team leaders here at the Value blog over the next year. You can also read full descriptive reports for this and other AiA projects, along with a synthesis of all the first year AiA projects.
Arizona State University created a new Critical Thinking course for at-risk freshmen in 2010. They built information literacy skills into the course curriculum as well as many levels of student learning assessment. They sought to demonstrate, with data, how the library’s involvement was contributing to the course learning objectives, and whether students who completed the course persisted at a higher rate than their at-risk peers. The data collected and analyzed for the project showed that at-risk students who successfully completed the critical thinking course with an integrated information literacy component demonstrated increased knowledge of and confidence in their information literacy skills, recognized the value of those particular skills to their current and future academic work, and persisted at a higher rate than those who do not take the course.
Q&A with Julie Tharp of Arizona State University
Q: What was your greatest challenge during the course of your Assessment in Action project?
A: I didn’t have much experience doing assessment, much less on such a grand scale, so it was a big learning curve. The training we received during our first 2-day workshop at ALA was invaluable where we learned how to follow the Assessment Cycle, and practiced writing Inquiry Questions, Learning Outcomes, etc. But I would say the greatest challenge was the process of hashing out and writing those details with my team. A related challenge was figuring out what tools we were going to need to develop that would adequately measure whether our student learning outcomes were met.
Q: What is your #1 recommendation for other librarians who want to conduct an assessment project on student learning and success?
A: Do it! It is rewarding in so many ways: it is an excellent opportunity to learn how to do a complex assessment; work closely with key colleagues across your campus; make connections you probably wouldn’t otherwise (for example, I would not have been able to get direct access to people in our Office of Evaluation and Educational Effectiveness to provide the persistence data, if not for the AiA project); and you realize firsthand how you truly are contributing to student success, and have data to prove it!
Q: What is the #1 thing you gained through your participation in Assessment in Action?
A: Momentum. My mindset/approach to every service I provide now is within the framework of its relationship to student success. And I have many ideas…