Leveraging Emerging Learning Technologies to Promote Library Instruction
By Beth Strickland, Laurie Alexander, Amanda Peters, and Catherine Morse
June 3, 2013, Educause Review: http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/leveraging-emerging-learning-technologies-promote-library-instruction

As we think about the value added by library services and instruction, the article “Leveraging Emerging Learning Technologies to Promote Library Instruction” highlights key elements of a successful library program – collaboration, assessment, revision, and repeat. Two of the Value Reports’ essential questions resounded as I read the work of these University of Michigan librarians:

1. How does the library contribute to the student experience?
2. How does the library contribute to student learning?

Determined to move beyond the traditional one-shot workshop and supported by the assistant dean of undergraduate education, these librarians collaborated with faculty to develop a for-credit research course. As they assessed their work, they realized there were key components they could enhance using learning technologies. Again, they collaborated with an instructional technologist and created a blended learning approach to the material. This work demonstrates their extension beyond the traditional role of library information literacy instruction and work in curriculum development:

In the area of student learning, academic libraries are in the middle of a paradigm shift. In the past, academic libraries functioned primarily as information repositories; now they are becoming learning enterprises (Bennett 2009, 194). This shift requires academic librarians to embed library services and resources in the teaching and learning activities of their institutions (Lewis 2007). In the new paradigm, librarians focus on information skills, not information access (Bundy 2004, 3); they think like educators, not service providers (Bennett 2009, 194). VAL Report p.37

The online component allowed them to monitor progress immediately instead of waiting for a bibliography or final project to review. This generated discussion among the course librarian faculty member and students in a way that was not as evident in the face-to face version of the class. While we think about how to develop similar classes in our own institutions, these University of Michigan librarians have given us a great model to help others conceive and convince constituents of the benefits inherent in assessing and reviewing workshop and curriculum design.

 

Facilitators of this blog have requested comments and updates from readers regarding projects that have been undertaken at their institutions.  The following is a guest report submitted by Cheryl Middleton, Associate University Librarian for Learning and Engagement, Oregon State University, Chair of Greater Western Library Association.

 

Exploring the Libraries Impact on Student Learning Outcomes in Greater Western Library Association Membership

October 10, 2012

Higher education and academic libraries are engaged in transformative conversations that focus on demonstrating the value and relevance the academic library brings the student learning experience.  In Spring 2011 the Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA), a consortium of 32 academic libraries, became part of that conversation through the adoption a strategic direction to evaluate GWLA libraries’ impact on student learning   The GWLA Board of directors formed a student learning taskforce (GWLA-SLO) and charged them to investigate local practices at GWLA Libraries, share the data collected and develop a research project that will gather and communicate evidence of the impact that academic libraries have on student learning at the institutions.

An electronic survey was distributed to 32 GWLA members during the Spring 2012 semester. Twenty-three GWLA libraries 72% of the membership) responded to a series of questions about the presence and assessment of student learning outcomes (SLOs) on their campuses. Three main questions were asked:

(1) Does your institution have SLOs that address information literacy (i.e., critical thinking, evaluation, and synthesis of information) at any of the following levels – campus, college/department, and/or library?

(2) Does the library assess information literacy SLOs at any of the following levels – campus-wide, college/department, and/or library level? and

(3) Does the library measure the impact of its collaborations with classroom faculty and other academic partners?

As part of the GWLA survey, respondents were asked to identify contacts on their campuses who are involved in student learning assessment activities for an additional follow up interview. Representatives from 19 Libraries were identified for interviewing.  Throughout the spring and summer of 2012 interviews of the follow-up contacts were conducted by telephone by teams of two taskforce members.  The findings from both the assessment data and the grounded theory analysis, a process that looks for emerging themes, will be used to inform the development of a research question for future GWLA project on measuring the impact of the academic library on student learning outcomes.  Our qualitative analysis is in the final stages of the process and the GWLA-SLO taskforce is currently planning a professional development event for its members in November 2013. This event will focus on sharing assessment practices and data and discussing the implications of the qualitative analysis of individual campus practices and their libraries’ role in those practices.

 

If you have a information on a project that you would like to share, please use the  survey form on the sidebar to the right.

 

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has been awarded a National Leadership Demonstration Grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for the project “Assessment in Action: Academic Libraries and Student Success.” The grant funding of $249,330 will support ACRL, in partnership with the Association for Institutional Research (AIR) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and build on their IMLS 2011 Collaborative Planning Grant which convened two invitational summits. With this grant, a professional development program to strengthen the competencies of librarians in campus leadership and data-informed advocacy will be designed, implemented and evaluated.

“I am delighted with IMLS’ decision to provide continuing support for ACRL’s commitment to helping academic libraries demonstrate alignment with, and impact on, institutional outcomes, the goal of ACRL’s Value of Academic Libraries initiative,” said ACRL President Steven J. Bell, associate university librarian for research and instructional services at Temple University.

“Continuing our work with our higher education partners AIR and APLU is an exciting opportunity to further engage librarians in the broader campus assessment initiatives,” added ACRL Executive Director Mary Ellen K. Davis.

Three hundred institutions will participate in the project (Year 1: 75 institutions; Year 2: 100 institutions; Year 3: 125 institutions). Each participating institution will identify a team, consisting of a librarian and at least two additional team members as determined by the campus (e.g., faculty member, student affairs representative, institutional researchers, or academic administrator). The librarians will participate as cohorts in a one-year professional development program that includes team-based activities carried out on their campuses.

“I am pleased to continue APLU’s partnership with ACRL on this grant to more effectively assess the impact of university libraries on learning and to use that information to enhance student success,” said APLU President Peter McPherson.

“Institutional researchers and librarians have long been partners in using data to improve institutional performance,” Randy Swing, executive director of AIR, noted. “This grant allows us to raise the bar for using data to prove and improve the impact of libraries on student learning and success.”

Librarians who participate in the program, supported by a blended learning environment and a peer-to-peer network, will lead their campus teams in the development and implementation of an action learning project examining the impact of the library on student success and contributing to assessment activities on their campus. The projects will result in a variety of approaches to assessing library impact on student learning which will be documented and disseminated for use by the wider academic library and higher education communities. The different perspectives and experiences represented by the institutional team members will foster a collaborative approach to assessing the library’s impact on student learning and success on the campus of each participating institution.

Information about how to apply to participate in the first cohort will be available in January 2013. Contact Kara Malenfant, ACRL senior strategist for special initiatives, at kmalenfant@ala.org or (312) 280-2510 with questions about the grant or the Value of Academic Initative.

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