Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Assessing Library Instruction - CE from MAC conference Morgantown WV

Last week Hannah Winkler and I attended the 2008 Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Medical Library Association meeting in Morgantown WV. My geeky but laudable goals for the meeting were to present our poster on chat services, to attend a promising CE course, to catch up on trends and projects in health/medical librarianship, and to seek out hotel amenities, local landmarks and restaurants. Missions accomplished :)

The CE was the first event of the conference for me and it'll be the subject of this post.

ASSESSMENT OF INFORMATION LITERACY: IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES, Jennifer Nutefall and and Deborah Gaspar, George Washington University

During the introduction, the instructors emphasized the importance of deciding what to assess (student learning vs. instruction technique) and advised that it's best to measure one OR the other (not both) in a one-shot library instruction session. Jennifer and Deborah demonstrated techniques for both types of assessment plus they covered programmatic assessment. Once or twice the discussion was dominated by librarians concerned about the challenges of library instruction or the challenges of librarianship at their particular institutions. Otherwise this was a very useful course, with several take-away ideas for assessing one-shot library instruction and applying that assessment.

Advice/reminders of most immediate use to me:

  • Learning outcomes - Be sure to clearly define learning outcomes for each lesson with active, Bloom's taxonomy type language. This gives the instructor something to assess.
  • Observation assessment – During library instruction, note student reactions, behavior, and questions. I like this technique b/c it taps into a tried and true part of my usual instruction approach.
  • Muddiest point – After exercise, preceding break or at end of session, ask students to write “what is unclear/what do you want to know more about?” I've tried this before but not in mid-stream during a session.
    Read/study assessment techniques - This book was described as a good place to start - Angelo, T. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Several of these techniques are described in Avril Cunningham's article Using “Ready-to-Go”Assessment Tools to Create a Year Long Assessment Portfolio and Improve Instruction, College & Undergraduate Libraries, Vol. 13(2) 2006.
Compelling possibilities:

  • Instruction librarian peer assessment - The GWU librarians have a nice framework. Their approach seems likely to promote useful feedback while preserving working relationships.
  • Start a pedagogy review group - Like a journal club, each librarian reads an article about a teaching strategy and discusses how it could be applied
  • Research Readiness Self-Assessment (RRSA) - Assessment tool mentioned by a participant
  • Audience response systems/clickers - Several participants gave kudos to this fun, on the fly approach to assessing instruction
  • Create an assessment portfolio - At GWU the instruction coordinator created a binder with tabs for various types of assessment then encourages instruction librarians to submit examples and results of their LI assessments
  • Apply assessment to university mission - What kinds of assessment are being conducted? How can this work be used to "paint a picture" of library contributions towards the university mission?
Also mentioned during the conference - online CE courses free to SE/A member libraries (that includes us!!). Next session is All About MeSH, Weds 11/19 noon-1.

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