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Assessing Assignments: The Library as Partner in Campus Wide Assessments

October 24, 2010

>Beth Transue and Beth Mark, Messiah College
1401 syllabi were analyzed, under direction of provost, in addition to looking at info lit outcomes, also looked at:

1. clear statement of clear objectives (96% did)
2. whether syllabus included integrity policy (66% did not)
3. statement about ADA disabilities statement
4. grading scales (about 30% did not include info)
5. course management systems – about 12% mention (from 2006)
6. writing center – did they refer students? .2% require, 9% recommend
7. learning center – .1% require, 8% recommend

For library, looked for mention of
-library and library instruction – 9% (have 5 librarians)
-information literacy – 11%
-reserves – 13% list items on reserve
-websites and databases – 22% recommended websites, 2% recommend databases (but not all library databases)
-citation styles – 24% mention; APA, MLA, ‘other’

Gen ed had the largest number of syllabi

Some syllabi had assignment info, but not enough for collection development purposes
Solution: collect separate assignment information

Unplanned benefits
-appreciation of provost
-request to present data to Academic Council (deans and admin)
-subsequently presented to two schools within college
-raised visibility of librarians as campus stakeholders
-prepared the way for expanded project (assignment analysis)

What we learned — begin planning at least a year in advance when dealing with other academic offices

Library Assignment Analysis Project
-meet with provost again, who approved the project
-asked to present proposal to school deans for their buy-in and for them to be communication channel to depts.
-deans agreed, recommended timeline and wording changes
-one dean suggested using a form faculty could fill out in lieu of submitting written assignment directions (problem will be that you can’t see what they are handing out)

Got good return (about 1/2 by spring 2010), again used a student work to extract data
842 assignments
Assignment types:
research paper & presentations most common types of assignment, in addition reserve readings, reflection essay, ‘other’ (if an assignment students had to complete required use library resources, should have been included, but faculty may not have realized)

-page length by course level did increase over 4 years (used minimum number e.g. 5-8, entered ‘5’)
-number of sources by assignment type
-number of sources by course level (leveled out for 2 – 4th years) may be due to faculty not ‘spelling it out’ for students
-where forms where used, some narrative info was lost, but did provide info not included in some written assignments
-individual follow up provided opportunities to raise awareness of faculty regarding unknown library resources

Interesting project; unfortunately I could not stay till the end.

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