Assessing and Communicating Library Contributions to Student Learning and Success through Action Research

Register now for the preconference Assessing and Communicating Library Contributions to Student Learning and Success through Action Research to be held Wednesday, March 228:30 a.m.3:30 p.m. at the ACRL 2017 conference in Baltimore, MD.


Higher education institutions of all types are facing intensified attention to assessment and accountability issues. Academic libraries are increasingly connecting with colleagues and campus stakeholders to design and implement assessment that documents their contributions to institutional priorities. In this day-long workshop on strategic and sustainable assessment, participants will identify institutional priorities and campus partners, design an assessment project grounded in action research, and prepare a plan for communicating the project results. This workshop is based on the highly successful ACRL Assessment in Action program curriculum.

Learning outcomes:

  • Apply action research as a means to designing robust assessment plans, practices, and processes.
  • Implement assessment practices that document the impact of libraries on student learning, academic programs and activities, and institutional initiatives.
  • Collaborate with key campus partners to plan and conduct assessment that aligns library outcomes with institutional initiatives, priorities, and assessment activities
  • Use the results of assessment and action research to foster support for library contributions to student learning and success.

Presenters: Karen Brown, Professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Dominican University; Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, Coordinator for Information Literacy and Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Melanie Sellar, Lecturer at San José State University’s School of Information and Senior Instructional Designer at Loyola Marymount University’s School of Education; Brandy Whitlock, Professor and Instruction Librarian at Anne Arundel Community College

Preconference Registration Fees

ALA Member $190
Nonmember $230
Full-time Library School Student $80
Retired ALA Member $80
Nonsalaried/unemployed ALA Member $80

For more information about this and other preconferences at ACRL 2017, see

Assessment in Action Project Reflection – Kim Pittman

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.

Progress Update on ACRL Action-Oriented Research Agenda on Library Contributions to Student Learning and Success

The team from OCLC Research – which ACRL selected to design, develop, and deliver a new ACRL “Action-Oriented Research Agenda on Library Contributions to Student Learning and Success” – has recently submitted a progress report to the ACRL Board of Directors. The report details how the project team conducted a literature search in academic library journals and conference proceedings for scholarly and practice-based literature that addresses library contributions to student learning and success. It explains the ways the team analyzed the studies (using content analysis to portray the current state of library value studies in an institutional context) and identified themes for the research agenda.

In November, a first draft of the action-oriented research agenda will be sent to the ACRL Value of Academic Libraries (VAL) committee and released publicly for feedback. In mid November, you can hear more in a free “ACRL Presents” online open forum with VAL committee chair Jaime Hammond, project director Lynn Silipigni Connaway, senior research scientist at OCLC, and project team members Vanessa Kitzie and Stephanie Mikitish, doctoral candidates at Rutgers University. This will forum will allow for community members to ask questions and give reactions to the draft.