If people at your institution shudder when they hear the word “assessment,” the reaction may be even more dramatic when they hear that it’s time for “accreditation.” An accreditation visit puts pressure on a college or university to demonstrate what students are learning. Has your library participated in a self-study or a visit by an accreditation team?
Most accrediting bodies seem to place high value on information literacy outcomes, whether the phrase “information literacy” is used or not. It’s important for librarians to become familiar with accreditation guidelines and look for terms synonymous with information literacy (Value Report, page 55). Here are some terms that might be used:
- critical and creative thinking
- inquiry and analysis
- evaluation and synthesis of information.
What other learning outcomes would you say are synonymous (or nearly synonymous) with information literacy?
Librarians can take the initiative to communicate the presence and importance of information literacy language in accreditation documents and then leverage accreditation guidelines to integrate information literacy skills into teaching and assessment processes throughout campus. This gives librarians the opportunity to ensure that information literacy extends beyond individual library instruction sessions and into the broader curriculum so that the institution can prove that upon graduation, students are information literate (Value Report, page 55). Participating in the accreditation process can have several positive outcomes for libraries and librarians: greater integration of information literacy learning outcomes throughout departments and programs, improving the library’s status on campus, and increasing the perceived value of the library to the mission of the institution.
My institution’s accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), has recently created new “Pathways for Reaffirmation of Accreditation.” When major changes in accreditation processes like this take place, it’s important to stay abreast of the new requirements.
What is the role of your library in the accreditation process?