Notes on "Creating a Culture of Assessment"

Creating a Culture of Assessment: Determinants of Success
Presenters: Meredith Farkas, Head of Instructional Services, Portland State University, Portland, OR, Lisa Hinchliffe, Coordinator of Instruction and Information Literacy Services, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL & Amy Harris Houk, Information Literacy Program Coordinator and Reference Librarian, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC

  • Assessment of library services – particularly Instruction – should be the norm; it should be a regular part of our practice
  • Assessment is done for improvement first and foremost; not just for accountability & accreditation
  • It should be user-focused
  • All staff involved in assessment need to be learning- and curiosity-focused
  • All data retrieved should be used in decision-making
  • Library assessment is intended to improve student learning & allows us to become better teachers
  • It also helps us advocate for the library and grow our instruction program; it demonstrates the library’s value within the campus community
  • We should be holding ourselves to the same standards as other academic departments
  • We need to align faculty culture, institutional structures & leadership for change
  • Assessment requires a real change in staff thinking. The ideal internal culture needed by staff should have the following assets:
    • Trusting
    • Positive/Optimistic
    • Adaptive
    • Open communication
    • Staff feel safe experimenting
    • User-focused
    • Learning culture
    • Tolerance for the unknown/ambiguity
  • There should be both leadership from above (admins/supervisors), as well as commitment from below (other library staff)
  • Leaders need to lead by example by using data that’s collected
  • Staff should feel empowered, receive training, and know that assessment results will not be used against them
  • The presenters of this panel conducted a survey of 1,604 library directors. 672 (42%) of them responded. This survey asked the directors or heads of their library’s instruction department questions related to assessment in their library. These are the results:
    • 59% of respondents said that their institution had a culture of assessment
    • 40% said that their institution does NOT have a culture of assessment
    • 84% of respondents stated that their campus has an assessment initiative
    • 54% of respondents said that their library has no clear expectations of assessment
    • Only 59% of libraries say that they have learning outcomes
    • 59% of libraries say they do not have an assessment plan
    • 54% of respondents say that there is a shared understanding of the purpose of assessment within their library
  • These findings showed that if there is a campus-wide assessment initiative, the library is far more likely to have a culture of assessment
  • Organizing an on-going committee for assessment is a very good idea
  • These findings also showed that the libraries that did not have a culture of assessment tended to not be user-focused
  • These issues hinder a culture of assessment:
    • Lack of staffing
    • Lack of time
    • Lack of library administration leadership/support
    • Lack of expertise and access to training
    • Institution does not prioritize assessment
  • Without an institutional commitment to assessment, it’s difficult for the library to develop a culture of assessment
  • Institutions accredited by SACS are more likely to have a culture of assessment due to SACS requirements (87% of libraries)
  • We need to have a clear understanding of & expectations for assessment
  • Their article on this should be published soon

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