Kim Pittman, Info. Lit. & Assessment Librarian, U Minnesota Duluth

Kim Pittman,
U Minn. Duluth

The ACRL Value in Academic Libraries team asked recent participants in the Assessment in Action (AiA) program to reflect on their work and we were simply floored by the generous responses.

Following is a reflection by Kim Pittman, Information Literacy & Assessment Librarian University of Minnesota Duluth | Kathryn A. Martin Library. Kim’s primary research question was: Will expanded library involvement in a required first-year writing course help students develop increased persistence and problem-solving skills when conducting research?

  1. What was your greatest challenge during the course of your Assessment in Action project?

Time was definitely my greatest challenge. It helped enormously to have team members who were willing to share the workload and make significant contributions to the project. It was also important that our team legitimately enjoyed working together. This enabled us to communicate more effectively and accomplish a great deal on a challenging timeline.

  1. What is your #1 recommendation for other librarians who want to conduct an assessment project on student learning and success? 

Assess something you actually value and find compelling, even if means you will need to use unfamiliar or challenging assessment methods. My team completed a content analysis of reflective essays, a method most of us were not previously familiar with. At times, we felt overwhelmed by the amount of data we collected and unsure about how to proceed, but our genuine interest in our research question helped keep us motivated and moving forward.

  1. What is the #1 thing you gained through your participation in Assessment in Action?

More than anything else, AiA expanded my sense of what’s possible in student learning assessment. My campus team’s enthusiasm for our project and for working together demonstrated to me that members of the campus community are willing (and in many cases, eager) to partner on assessment projects like this. Through AiA, I was also able to learn about and apply new assessment skills. As a result, I now feel much more capable of tackling large and small-scale assessment projects in my everyday work.

Mar 172016

Val LogoRegistration is available for the three-part webcast series, “Learning Analytics: Strategies for Optimizing Student Data on Your Campus.” This webcast series, co-sponsored by the ACRL Value of Academic Libraries Committee, the Student Learning and Information Committee, and the ACRL Instruction Section, will explore the advantages and opportunities of learning analytics as a tool which uses student data to demonstrate library impact and to identify learning weaknesses. How can librarians initiate learning analytics initiatives on their campuses and contribute to existing collaborations? The first webcast will provide an introduction to learning analytics and an overview of important issues. The second event will focus on privacy issues and other ethical considerations as well as responsible practice, and the third webcast will include a panel of librarians who are successfully using learning analytics on their campuses.

· Webcast One: Learning Analytics and the Academic Library: The State of the Art and the Art of Connecting the Library with Campus Initiatives (March 29, 2016)

· Webcast Two: Privacy and the Online Classroom: Learning Analytics, Ethical Considerations, and Responsible Practice (April 14, 2016)

· Webcast Three: Moving Beyond Circulation and Gate Counts: Practical Applications of Learning Analytics (May 11, 2016)

Complete details including webcast descriptions and learning outcomes for each webcast, and registration materials are available online. Questions can be directed to


An exciting C&RL Forum event is just around the corner. This forum will be an excellent opportunity to look closely at two recent studies that center in many ways on value and some of the learning outcomes often associated with student library experiences. 

C&RL Forum on Library Usage and Student Success
Live Wednesday, October 28, 2015 (Length: 60 minutes)
9am Pacific | 10am Mountain | 11am Central | 12pm Eastern

One of the most difficult issues librarians face is how to prove our value to the university. Join us for an author panel discussion of two College & Research Libraries articles which explore the ties between student library usage and success: “The Impact of Library Resource Utilization on Undergraduate Students’ Academic Performance” by Felly Chiteng Kot and Jennifer L. Jones and “Investigating the Relationship of Library Usage to Student Outcomes” by John K. Stemmer and David M. Mahan (preprint). The authors will share the findings of their studies.

The first study (Chiteng Kot and Jones) addressed the issue of self-selection bias by using propensity score matching to construct treatment and comparison groups with similar background characteristics. After controlling for a variety of factors, this study found that students in the treatment group (who used library resources at any level specified) had a higher first-term GPA compared to their counterparts in the comparison group (who did not use library resources at the corresponding levels). For the purposes of this study, library use included workstation logins, study room reservations, and research clinic attendance.

The second study analyzed data from non-anonymous user surveys on why and how often students used the library in conjunction with institutional data to conduct a regression analysis that identified multiple correlations between student outcomes and the library. Stemmer and Mahan found that the library factors associated with student outcomes change over the course of the four year undergraduate experience. Underclass students using the library as a place to study are more likely to have positive outcomes, whereas upper-class students see positive outcomes when using the library as an information resource.

Hashtag: #acrlsuccess


John K. Stemmer, PhD: John is the Director of Library Services at Bellarmine University.


Felly Chiteng Kot: Felly is the Institutional Research Analyst for the Office of the Provost at Nazarbayev University.

Jennifer L. Jones: Jennifer is the Assessment and User Experience Librarian in the University Library at Georgia State University.

David M. Mahan, PhD: David is the Assistant Provost and Executive Director of Institutional Effectiveness at Manhattan College.

Register to receive reminders and information or view the forum live on YouTube.


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