Assessment in Action

Colorado Mesa University: Project Description

Page 1


Primary Outcome Examined (select one or more)

(No) Student Learning: Assignment

(No) Student Learning: Course

(No) Student Learning: Major

(No) Student Learning: Degree

(No) Student Engagement

Student Success

(No) Academic Intimacy/Rapport

(No) Enrollment




(No) Articulation

(No) Graduates' Career Success

(No) Testing (e.g., GRE, MCAT, LSAT, CAAP, CLA, MAPP)

(No) Other (please describe)

Primary Library Factor Examined (select one or more)

(No) Instruction

(No) Instruction: Games

(No) Instruction: One Shot

(No) Instruction: Course Embedded

(No) Instruction: Self-Paced Tutorials


(No) Educational Role (other than reference or instruction)

(No) Space, Physical

(No) Discovery (library resources integrated in institutional web and other information portals)

(No) Discovery (library resource guides)

(No) Discovery (from preferred user starting points)

(No) Collections (quality, depth, diversity, format or currency)

Personnel (number and quality)

(No) Other (please describe)

Student Population (select one or more)



(No) Incoming

(No) Graduating

(No) Pre-College/Developmental/Basic Skills

(No) Other (please describe)

Discipline (select one or more)



Social Sciences

Natural Sciences (i.e., space, earth, life, chemistry or physics)

Formal Sciences (i.e., computer science, logic, mathematics, statistics or systems science)

Professions/Applied Sciences

English Composition

General Education

(No) Information Literacy Credit Course

(No) Other (please describe)

AiA Team Members (select one or more)

(No) Assessment Office

Institutional Research

(No) Teaching Faculty

(No) Writing Center

(No) Information/Academic Technology

(No) Student Affairs

(No) Campus Administrator

Library Administrator

Other Librarian

(No) Other (please describe)

Page 2


Methods and Tools (select one or more)



(No) Focus Group(s)

(No) Observation

Pre/Post Test

(No) Rubric

Other (please describe)

a statistics form for Ask-a-Librarian service interactions (phone, chat, email, in-person at reference desk/other, consultationsm etc.; used LibAnalytics)

Direct Data Type (select one or more)

(No) Student Portfolio

(No) Research Paper/Project

(No) Class Assignment (other than research paper/project)

(No) Other (please describe)

- LibAnalytics form for Ask-a-Librarian interaction statistics keeping - Survey (of students who had research/assignment questions and for whom we'd gathered a student ID#)

Indirect Data Type (select one or more)

(No) Test Scores

(No) GPA

(No) Degree Completion Rate

Retention Rate

(No) Other (please describe)

Page 3

Executive Summary (150 words open)

  • How does the project align with your institution’s priorities and needs?
  • Why did you choose the outcome and library factor as areas to examine?
  • Why was the team composition appropriate?

  1. In light of campus-wide commitments to student success and the
    assessment of student learning, CMU librarians set out to examine
    how our research assistance, an aspect of our roles within a teaching-focused
    institution, may impact student successes.

    CMU librarians have a strong commitment to the personal assistance
    we provide to our students, within and beyond classroom instruction.
    And there's not much in the scholarly literature regarding assessing
    the impact of research assistance from a professional librarian upon
    student success in higher education. Essentially we wanted to know:
    does our work matter?

    Our team involved a reference librarian, our distance services
    librarian, our then-head-public-services librarian (now library
    director), and a member from institutional research -- we needed a
    variety of perspectives on information literacy, student interactions,
    and data gathering and this composition met that need.

  • What are the significant contributions of your project?
  • What was learned about assessing the library’s impact on student learning and success?
  • What was learned about creating or contributing to a culture of assessment on campus?
  • What, if any, are the significant findings of your project?

  1. Significant contributions of our project include: creating a culture of assessment within
    CMU’s librarians, particularly formal assessment strategies; establishing new and
    deeper bonds with important campus partners (Institutional Research, Library
    Advisory Committee, Distance Education); and our librarians' ability to contribute to
    the assessment and retention conversations on campus in a way that is interesting,
    valuable to the librarians, and maintains our commitment to being teaching-focused.
    And not only do we have the ability to contribute, we _should_ be contributing—and at
    CMU we definitely will be.

    Basically we have learned that students value our commitment to them and the services
    we provide to them—preliminary data is very promising and optional survey feedback
    bolsters our quantitative evidence. Significant findings, based on Fall 2014 data, include
    that students with any documented library visit had 90% success rates, a research/
    assignment visit = 91%, specific item needs = 92% (no documented visit= 83%).

  • What will you change as a result of what you learned (– e.g., institutional activities, library functions or practices, personal/professional practice, other)?
  • How does this project contribute to current, past, or future assessment activities on your campus?

  1. As a result of what we learned, CMU librarians will continue our assessment effort,
    perhaps with a few tweaks, in perpetuity—which is a significant change both in
    terms of what we had gathered previously (more traditional desk tallies) and going
    from “for the project” to “this is how we’re doing things.” Additionally, we’d like
    to combine this effort with additional data gathered through check-outs, ILL and
    database usage—the more traditional library-and-student-success analyses—and
    possibly instructional session attendance, too, to get a fuller, more nuanced picture
    of our student success associations.

    In the past, the library had only “we think” and “we feel” anecdotal student success
    contributions—we could be qualitative about ourselves, reflectively, but had little
    data to support these statements. Now we have some and will continue growing that
    pool of data from our various services, so that we can analyze and contribute further
    to assessment activities.

Please list any articles published, presentations given, URL of project website, and team leader contact details.

  1. Team leader contact details:
    Laureen Cantwell, Reference & Distance Services Librarian, 970.248.1865
    Colorado Mesa University, 1100 North Avenue, Grand Junction, CO 81501

    Laureen will be presenting on their project concept and methodology at the Library
    2.015 Conference, October 2015. (This presentation will be delivered online to an
    international audience. The conference is free, virtual, archives all sessions, and
    serves an international audience.)

Do your ask-a-librarian interactions with students have associations with student success at your institution? Colorado Mesa University librarians decided to pose this question, devise and carry-out a plan for studying it, and become part of the student success and retention commitments at their teaching-focused institution. With assistance from their Office of Institutional Research, early data analysis shows a promising set of positive associations between CMU students’ success and interaction(s) with professional librarians via Ask-a-Librarian services.
ALA_2015_Poster_OFFICIAL.pdf The Brave and the Bold: Students and Reference Librarians Unite to Assess Associations Between Student Success & Ask-a-Librarian Services