Dr. Jane Liu is a founding member of the Advisory Board of the Threshold Achievement Test for Information Literacy. She is a faculty member in the Chemistry Department at Pomona College and she incorporates elements of information literacy in her teaching.
Jane, we are so pleased to have you on the Advisory Board for the Threshold Achievement Test for Information Literacy. You bring a valuable perspective to our work, particularly as a faculty member in the sciences. Please tell us about your position as Associate Professor of Chemistry at Pomona College.
Jane: I have a fantastic job! I was hired to primarily teach biochemistry, which I describe as understanding how cells and organisms work, at a molecular level. I teach this subject in the classroom, mostly to third- and fourth-year undergraduates, but I’m a firm believer that some of the best ways to learn science is to actually do science. So I also engage students in my research lab where I investigate how genes are turned on and off in bacteria. My students and I work side by side, wearing lab coats and gloves, growing bacteria, isolating DNA, RNA and proteins, and doing experiments on these materials to answer questions that we do not know the answer to. There is a great deal of learning that can occur when tackling the unknown – and there are always a few unexpected surprises that are uncovered.
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. ...continue reading "April’s Spring Conference Round-up"
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?
Liz: 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.
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.