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.
What was your greatest challenge during the course of your Assessment in Action project?
What happens when key players bow out of your project and a new plan has to be hatched at the 11th hour? And what happens when the creation, planning and implementation of the project then fall entirely on one person’s shoulders? You drop back and punt. Bentley’s original project had to be scrapped when team members went on sabbatical or left the university, taking with them their support and ideas.
Any successful library program relies on the relationship, built over time, between the librarian and faculty. Knowing when and how to capitalize on this partnership is key in being able to turn around a project destined for the dustbin. Remember, it only takes one faculty member to say, “Yes, I will work with you.”
What is your #1 recommendation for other librarians who want to conduct an assessment project on student learning and success?
Cast your net wide for people who will work with you – faculty, staff, technicians, other campus units. Be willing to switch gears and find others if the original team does not pan out. And don’t forget the people nearest you. To be totally successful you need willing librarians who bring knowledge, balance, expertise, and a sense of humor.
What is the #1 thing you gained through your participation in Assessment in Action?
I learned how to triage. Choosing the right people, determining what is most important, letting go of things that overtaxed me, others, or that simply could not get done in time were essential for the successful completion of the project.
1. What was your greatest challenge during the course of your Assessment in Action project?
My greatest challenge was probably just getting started and having confidence in myself to leave the team. I’m not a statistics person, so I never saw myself as someone who could run a project like this. But I had great statistics people on my team who helped me achieve the project vision.
2. What is your #1 recommendation for other librarians who want to conduct an assessment project on student learning and success?
Don’t reinvent the wheel. You’d be surprised how much information and data you already have that you can build upon for a larger scale project. Also, we had a lot of success with our project because we decided to work with a program–first-year writing–with whom we already had a great working relationship. Start with partners you already have and see if you can expand the scope of your assessment with them.
3. What is the #1 thing you gained through your participation in Assessment in Action?
My main insight may seem anticlimactic, but I was/am surprised that my team was able to do such a large scale project at all. I found the very idea daunting at first and wasn’t sure how I would pull it off. But large projects are just like small projects with more steps. They come together is the same way as any project–with planning and working with a strong, passionate team.