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.