Librarians partner closely with faculty to provide scaffolded information literacy instruction across the curriculum. Our instruction program targets core courses and supports the development of research skills throughout students' education.
Together, librarians, faculty and other campus stakeholders work to assess student learning, guided by the campus goals and the library's student learning goals.
Our assessment results are used to enrich student learning through the improvement of research assignments, instruction, and faculty-librarian collaborations.
Librarians assessed how we integrate information literacy instruction in the Discovery Core I at UW Bothell. The Campus Library has targeted the Discovery Core I class for instruction through the Strategies and Tools for Academic Research (STAR) Project assignment since 2011, reaching the majority of first year students to introduce them to academic libraries and college-level research basics. We assessed the efficacy of our current practices for collaborating with DCI instructors to implement the assignment and identified areas for improvement that can have a positive impact on how students experience the assignment, and consequently on their information literacy learning.
We examined the assignment’s design with librarians and faculty; how and when it is best deployed in the class; and the most effective means for communicating its purpose and goals to students. Based on the findings, the changes we made include: renaming the assignment and adding more flexibility for adapting it to course themes and topics; replacing the assignment's video with a more current library orientation video featuring library spaces and services; creating new assignment content to help students practice strategies for narrowing and broadening their topics; and adding to the assignment a prompt for students to analyze their experience of trying different keyword searches in the same database.
In the 2016-17 academic year, the library assessed student learning in Cascadia's College 101: College Success course, a required class in their general education curriculum. We collected work from two assignments, a Canvas activity introducing students to searching in online reference and news sources and source evaluation, and an end-of-quarter student reflection essay.
The specific learning goals assessed this year align with the Cascadia learning goals related to critical, creative, and reflective thinking; the College 101 objectives related to academic skill building in "using appropriate sources for academic, professional, and personal research;" and College 101 information literacy objectives related to using library resources to find print and online sources, using them to identify main concepts of a topic, and recognizing how they differ from internet sources.
113 samples of each assignment type were collected from five sections of the course.
Twenty-seven samples of each assignment were selected for formal assessment using the rubrics developed for each assignment.
Student work was assessed by five Cascadia faculty, representing discipline areas of English, Philosophy, and Sociology, and 14 librarians.
For the Canvas Research Activity assignment, students performed well in identifying audiences of sources with 42% of students reaching a level 2 (developing) or 3 (advancing). Evaluating the fit of sources to their information need was another strong area, with 44% reaching a level 2 or 3. The majority (85%) of students also identified one or more research skills to continue developing, with keyword selection and development commonly mentioned.
However, students performed less well in recognizing the contexts, perspectives or biases authors may bring to a source, with several (23%) scoring a level 0 (no evidence) and the majority (52%) scoring a level 1 (developing). This could be due to the phrasing of the question, little or no instruction on this concept, or to the fact that students may be new to evaluating the production of sources or information in this way.
For the Reflective Essay assignment, most students performed at a level 1 (beginning) or 2 (developing) across all criteria.
Students performed particularly well in comparing library research skills and resources to their typical information seeking processes and tools, with 62% scoring at a level 2 (developing) or 3 (advancing). They also did well with envisioning how library research skills and resources may be applied in other contexts (69% scored a level 1 'beginning' or 2 'developing'), and in identifying their strengths as learners, researchers, and information users (65% scored a level 1 or 2).
However, many students (41%) offered no evidence (level 0) of identifying one or more areas for continued development as learners, researchers, and information users. They also performed less well in addressing how their background, worldview, and educational goals influence their information seeking and use, with 33% skipping the prompt entirely and 41% addressing it, yet with confusion about the concepts of bias and positionality. This may be due to how the prompts were worded, little or no instruction on these topics, or the developmental level of the students.
Raters observed that students responded to the essay prompts very generally rather than in detail, and that reflection and reflective writing is a learned skill that typically requires practice and perhaps modeling at this developmental level.
Raters also observed that students often skipped over some question prompts when they were bundled together in comparison to when they were parsed apart.
What we've changed
Based on this assessment, recommendations for College 101 instructors and librarians included suggestions for providing students more instruction, modeling, or specific question prompts that better guide them in engaging with how author perspectives may influence sources they produce; how their own perspectives and experiences may influence their information seeking; and in reflecting upon any component of their process or learning. Other considerations included being mindful about which concepts may be more suitable for bundled question prompts versus separate ones requiring multiple responses from students.
In the 2015-16 academic year, the library engaged in revising our information literacy (IL) student learning outcomes. We solicited input from all units within the library to gather information about what we want our students to be able to do upon graduating UWB or Cascadia. A draft of new student learning outcomes was developed based on this information and was circulated across the library for further input and feedback. The consequent draft was shared with UW Bothell and Cascadia faculty and staff in order to gather their input and to develop the final version of the outcomes.
In the 2014-15 academic year, the library assessed student learning in UW Bothell's BNURS 350, Critical Thinking in Nursing, the first core course in the Nursing program at UW Bothell. We collected work from two assignments, a Canvas quiz/worksheet introducing students to searching in CINAHL (a core nursing database), and final literature review papers.
The specific learning goals assessed this year align with the UW Bothell Undergraduate Learning goal related to information literacy, and the RN-BSN Program Objectives related to the demonstration of critical thinking and integrating “methods of research and scholarship in making and prioritizing diagnoses, and in planning, implementing and evaluating care of individuals, groups, and communities.”
115 samples of each assignment type were collected from four sections of the course.
Twenty-five samples of each assignment were selected for formal assessment using the rubrics developed for each assignment.
Student work was assessed by two nursing faculty, the interim Director of the Writing & Communication Center, an IAS Professor, UWB’s Director of Institutional Research, and 14 librarians.
For the Canvas assignment, students performed well in developing search strategies (using different keywords, subject headings, and Boolean operators), with a majority of students (84%) reaching a level of either 2 (developing) or 3 (accomplished).
However, students performed less well in articulating why certain search strategies gave them potentially relevant results for their topic. For this criteria, 62% of students reached a level 2 or 3 score, and this was the area in which the most students were assessed at the beginning level (38%). This could be due to the phrasing of the question, or to the fact that students may be new to research in the upper-division level.
For the literature review assignment, the majority of students reached either a level 2 or 3 for their ability to synthesize sources (38.67% achieved a score of 2, 26.67% reached a score of 3).
Raters observed that students sometimes struggled in the Canvas assignment with concepts relating to the topical relevance and credibility of sources. Students often mistook the number of search results returned for the relevance of the results to their topic.
What we've changed
Based on this assessment, recommendations for BNURS 350 included suggestions for updating the Canvas activity. Raters recommended breaking up two-part questions and providing different answer fields when multiple responses are required. It was also suggested that language such as 'most relevant results' and 'credibility' be clarified for students by offering further guidance about what that means in relation to their search results.
In the 2013-14 academic year, the library assessed student learning in two key courses in the UW Bothell's curriculum:
What we've changed
Based on this assessment, recommendations for BUS 300 included providing additional support and guidance to students about what is expected in terms of source evaluation, including examples of exemplary annotations as models for their own work. The raters also recommended adding language about research skills to BUS 300 syllabi or course objectives in order to convey to students the importance of developing these skills for their program.
For BES 301, suggestions for future sections included supplementing in-class worksheets with tutorials or other pre-session homework in order to help students develop search skills and providing more specific guidelines or questions to help students better explore the relevance of an article for their research.
In the 2012-2013 academic year, the library focused on one of UW Bothell's core research writing courses, BCUSP 135 and targeted one particular learning outcome: "conduct effective searches using appropriate tools."
These artifacts were mainly worksheets completed by students during library instruction sessions or as homework after a workshop
A group of 12 librarians and faculty scored artifacts with the rubric, which was created using the targeted learning outcomes
What we've changed
In light of these findings, librarians have modified worksheets, assignments, and in-class instruction activities in order to improve student learning. For example, the STAR worksheet for first-year students was improved based on observations on best practices for assignment design arising out of this assessment work.
In 2010-11, the Campus Library was only one of 10 U.S institutions selected to participate in a major research project funded by the Institute of Museum & Library Services (IMLS). The Rubric Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (RAILS) project, headed by Professor Megan Oakleaf of Syracuse University, enabled the UWB/CC Library to develop a set of rubrics for assessing student learning outcomes related to research and information skills.
Results of the study, sample rubrics, and presentations/publications related to the study, are available on the RAILS website.