ACRL Announces Curriculum Designer/Presenters for New Learning Opportunities on Assessment

The ACRL Value of Academic Libraries Committee is pleased to announce the selection of Sara Lowe, Melanie Sellar, and Brandy Whitlock as curriculum designer/presenters for new learning opportunities on assessing library impact, building on the work of the ACRL program Assessment in Action: Academic Libraries and Student Success (AiA). Sara, Melanie, and Brandy join the team of  join the team of continuing facilitators from the AiA program, Karen Brown, Eric Resnis, Debra Gilchrist, and Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, as partners in shaping the curriculum and delivering the new learning opportunities.

Sara Lowe is Educational Development Librarian at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis; Melanie Sellar is Lecturer at San José State University’s School of Information and Senior Instructional Designer at Loyola Marymount University’s School of Education; and Brandy Whitlock is Professor and Instruction Librarian at Anne Arundel Community College.

“We are thrilled to have Sara, Melanie, and Brandy join the team that is creating new learning opportunities on assessment,” said ACRL Value of Academic Libraries Committee Chair Jaime Hammond, ‎Director of Library Services at Naugatuck Valley Community College. “All three of our new team members have firsthand experience with the AiA program, and we now have an excellent group ready to build new ways to support the community in exploring and communicating library contributions to student learning and success.”

The team is creating two (and possibly more) new learning opportunities on assessing library impact. First, a day-long workshop is being designed to provide professional development support to librarians who wish to know more about creating a plan to assess one particular program or service in their library. The focus is on understanding library contributions to institutional priorities for student learning and success, and any aspect of the library can be the focus of inquiry. Second, the design team is creating a new approach to support library leaders – deans and directors – in communicating about library impact with campus decision makers through a half-day guided discussion format. Future online content will be created to complement these two in-person events and may include stand-alone webinars.

Both of these new in person events will be piloted in conjunction with the ACRL 2017 conference. Stay tuned for more information in spring 2017 about how you can bring these new professional development opportunities to your campus, chapter, or consortia.

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.

Assessment in Action Project Reflection – Hope J. Houston

Hope J. Houston, Associate Director & Manager of Reference Services, Bentley University Library
Hope J. Houston, Assoc. Director , Bentley University Library

The ACRL Value in Academic Libraries team asked recent participants in the Assessment in Action (AiA) program to reflect on their work and we and we continue to be thankful for the generous responses of AiA participants.

Following is a reflection by Hope J. Houston, Associate Director & Manager of Reference Services, Bentley University Library. Hope’s primary research question was: Do business students, in the integrated business project course, have more confidence in using library resources as a result of their research consultation with a reference librarian?

  1. 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.”

  1. 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.

  1. 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.