My work in library assessment has often included projects and conversations with campus assessment officers and personnel in institutional research/institutional effectiveness. We’ve talked about the library demonstrating its value for accreditation purposes and worked on engaging faculty in information literacy assessment. In my work with Project SAILS and the Threshold Achievement Test for Information Literacy, I have seen a growing number of campus assessment professionals utilizing these tools to meet their campus assessment needs.
A few years ago I decided to learn more about the world of higher ed assessment and institutional research that exists outside the library. What are the priorities and perspectives of these professionals? Here are five of the most interesting and valuable sources that I have encountered.
All descriptions below come from the organizations’ web sites.
The AALHE is an organization of practitioners interested in using effective assessment practice to document and improve student learning. As such, it serves the needs of those in higher education for whom assessment is a tool to help them understand learning and develop processes for improving it.
This spring I had the opportunity to attend the California Academic and Research Libraries (CARL) Conference in April, the LOEX Conference in May, and the California Conference on Information Literacy (CCLI) in June. These were excellent learning opportunities, as always, and I’m happy to share a few highlights from each.
CARL: It was wonderful to see the excellent work being done by librarians throughout California. Elizabeth Horan and Brian Green, two of my colleagues in the community college system, reflected on the results of their recent survey of students about their study habits and preferences. Take-aways included the high number of students at both of their colleges who report studying in their cars. This highlighted the importance of mobile interfaces for library websites and article databases, since many of these students also reported accessing information on their phones or tablets. It also suggests the importance of creating spaces for individual studying, not just group studying, when libraries are redesigned and shows the value of permitting food in study spaces, when possible, in order to ensure that the library is as comfortable for studying as a car. I also got inspired by Del Williams’ presentation about hosting hip hop and spoken word performances by a student art collective in the Cal State University, Northridge library over the past year. The way that this collaboration changed students’ perceptions of the library shows the importance of counternarratives and culturally sustaining services in academic libraries. The artists, the audience, and the librarians/staff learned a lot about the library’s capacity to welcome new voices into the shared space. These papers and the rest of the presentations will be available in the conference proceedings in the coming year.
Liz Kavanaugh is a founding member of the Advisory Board of the Threshold Achievement Test for Information Literacy. A long-time user of the Project SAILS information literacy assessment tool and an advocate for effective assessment, Liz was the perfect match for the fledgling project to create a new tool based on the ACRL Framework.
In this interview, you will see how Liz's commitment to assessment and to information literacy are woven throughout her professional life.
Question: What do you like about your job?
I am very fortunate to be in the position of Information Literacy and Assessment Librarian at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pennsylvania. When I took the position about five years ago, we were just heading into an accreditation year with Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). It was an exciting time that launched me right into the thick of gathering data, writing reports, and meeting with stakeholders across campus. I really loved the active sense of how important assessment was at that time and I love how it has grown into a more full-fledged body of data today for the library. Much of it is based on the information brought forward through our long-term use of SAILS at this time and now we’re on the route to our 2024 review, which brings the excitement full circle.
Q: Please tell us about a project you are currently working on. What are you trying to accomplish?
Wingate University recently had its Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accreditation review. During the review they suggested we strengthen our assessments. With that, WU moved Mitch Cottenoir to the position of Institutional Effectiveness and SACSCOC Liaison. Mitch approached the library and asked how we would like to improve assessment. As a library we decided most of our direct interactions with students came from classes taught by the reference and instruction librarians, Isaac Meadows and myself, Kory Paulus. So began our adventure into updating our assessment for instruction and information literacy.
Sophie Bury joined the Advisory Board of the Threshold Achievement Test for Information Literacy in 2015. In this interview she reveals her passion for teaching and her commitment to assessment. Read about Sophie's projects on faculty IL and media literacy and learn why she joined the TATIL Advisory Board.
Question: Please tell us about your job. What are the highlights of your position?
The Learning Commons unites learning services at York University to better support students’ success and is a partnership of the Libraries, Learning Skills Services, the Writing Department, the ESL Open Learning Centre, the Career Centre, the Teaching Commons (supports teaching development at York) and the YUExperience Hub (supports experiential education at York).
My previously held roles include that of Business Librarian at York University and Wilfrid Laurier University, as well as leadership roles in the area of information literacy at both these universities in committee chair or other leadership positions.
I am very passionate about the role of academic libraries in student learning and success and very much enjoy the public service aspects of my role, including interacting with students in the classroom, as well as being one of the library’s key players in developing our reference and Learning Commons services to enhance the student experience.