Assessment in Action

Utah State University: Project Description

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Primary Outcome Examined (select one or more)

(No) Student Learning: Assignment

(No) Student Learning: Course

Student Learning: Major

(No) Student Learning: Degree

(No) Student Engagement

(No) Student Success

(No) Academic Intimacy/Rapport

(No) Enrollment

(No) Retention

(No) Completion

(No) Graduation

(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

Instruction: Course Embedded

(No) Instruction: Self-Paced Tutorials

(No) Reference

(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)

(No) Personnel (number and quality)

(No) Other (please describe)

Student Population (select one or more)


(No) Graduate

(No) Incoming

(No) Graduating

(No) Pre-College/Developmental/Basic Skills

(No) Other (please describe)

Discipline (select one or more)

(No) Arts

(No) Humanities

Social Sciences

(No) Natural Sciences (i.e., space, earth, life, chemistry or physics)

(No) Formal Sciences (i.e., computer science, logic, mathematics, statistics or systems science)

(No) Professions/Applied Sciences

(No) English Composition

(No) General Education

(No) Information Literacy Credit Course

(No) Other (please describe)

AiA Team Members (select one or more)

Assessment Office

Institutional Research

Teaching Faculty

(No) Writing Center

(No) Information/Academic Technology

(No) Student Affairs

(No) Campus Administrator

Library Administrator

(No) Other Librarian

(No) Other (please describe)

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Methods and Tools (select one or more)


(No) Interviews

Focus Group(s)

(No) Observation

(No) Pre/Post Test

(No) Rubric

Other (please describe)

Direct Data Type (select one or more)

(No) Student Portfolio

(No) Research Paper/Project

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

Other (please describe)

Indirect Data Type (select one or more)

(No) Test Scores

(No) GPA

(No) Degree Completion Rate

(No) Retention Rate

Other (please describe)

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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. For the past two years the library instruction program at Utah State University has engaged in a large-scale curriculum analysis project to identify the most effective disciplinary classes for library integration. Our efforts piggy-backed on institution-wide efforts to map learning outcomes across the University. The Psychology Department has participated in sequenced library instruction, making it an ideal department for exploring our impact. We needed evidence would support our sequenced library instruction efforts or indicate that we needed to change our approach.

    The library team included the Instruction Coordinator, an administrator, our Psychology Librarian, and our Outreach Librarian. Partners across campus included the Registrar’s Office who retrieved the data, the Institutional Research Office who assisted with data analysis, and the Psychology Department who participated in surveys and focus groups. Each of these partners was essential in the various phases of our study, including conception, collection, analysis, marketing, and implementing change.

  • 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. We found correlations between library instruction and higher grades. While some of these correlations are slight, we believe the feedback we received from students and faculty in the qualitative portion will increase those connections. We also found that the impact of library instruction increases when courses are sequenced, and that regardless of library instruction, students did better when they took their classes in sequences. This study significantly contributes to the body of literature that links student learning and success to library impact. It also accentuates the importance of considering sequence in order to increase our impact. We learned that it can be difficult to understand what the campus culture looks like and how it approaches assessment. One of the most rewarding results of this study was our improved relationship with our institutional research office which really helped us learn more about campus assessment culture.

  • 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. Our findings confirmed our sense that students benefit from meaningful integration with the library at strategic points in their curriculum, including at the discipline-level. It also revealed that we are failing to reach a significant number of students in face-to-face and online psychology courses, as well as having diminished impact on certain demographic populations. Our recommendations include more collaboration on targeted skills in key courses, more research on sequenced instruction and its impact, including in online courses, and more librarian involvement in stressing the importance of sequenced, ratcheted skills in the disciplines. This project positioned librarians as serious researchers and educators on campus and expanded our partners’ understanding of what librarians do and how we contribute to student success. We will use this study to advocate more convincingly to departments. Our goals support the larger goals of the University in tying programmatic efforts to mapped learning outcomes across the curriculum.

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

  1. We built a libguide explaining the project: Our paper proposal for this project was also accepted for the special issue of C&RL on action research. The team leader is Kacy Lundstrom, Coordinator of Library Instruction at Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library (, 435-797-2285).