Facilitators of this blog have requested comments and updates from readers regarding projects that have been undertaken at their institutions.  The following is a guest report submitted by Cheryl Middleton, Associate University Librarian for Learning and Engagement, Oregon State University, Chair of Greater Western Library Association.

 

Exploring the Libraries Impact on Student Learning Outcomes in Greater Western Library Association Membership

October 10, 2012

Higher education and academic libraries are engaged in transformative conversations that focus on demonstrating the value and relevance the academic library brings the student learning experience.  In Spring 2011 the Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA), a consortium of 32 academic libraries, became part of that conversation through the adoption a strategic direction to evaluate GWLA libraries’ impact on student learning   The GWLA Board of directors formed a student learning taskforce (GWLA-SLO) and charged them to investigate local practices at GWLA Libraries, share the data collected and develop a research project that will gather and communicate evidence of the impact that academic libraries have on student learning at the institutions.

An electronic survey was distributed to 32 GWLA members during the Spring 2012 semester. Twenty-three GWLA libraries 72% of the membership) responded to a series of questions about the presence and assessment of student learning outcomes (SLOs) on their campuses. Three main questions were asked:

(1) Does your institution have SLOs that address information literacy (i.e., critical thinking, evaluation, and synthesis of information) at any of the following levels – campus, college/department, and/or library?

(2) Does the library assess information literacy SLOs at any of the following levels — campus-wide, college/department, and/or library level? and

(3) Does the library measure the impact of its collaborations with classroom faculty and other academic partners?

As part of the GWLA survey, respondents were asked to identify contacts on their campuses who are involved in student learning assessment activities for an additional follow up interview. Representatives from 19 Libraries were identified for interviewing.  Throughout the spring and summer of 2012 interviews of the follow-up contacts were conducted by telephone by teams of two taskforce members.  The findings from both the assessment data and the grounded theory analysis, a process that looks for emerging themes, will be used to inform the development of a research question for future GWLA project on measuring the impact of the academic library on student learning outcomes.  Our qualitative analysis is in the final stages of the process and the GWLA-SLO taskforce is currently planning a professional development event for its members in November 2013. This event will focus on sharing assessment practices and data and discussing the implications of the qualitative analysis of individual campus practices and their libraries’ role in those practices.

 

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