Assessment in Action

Macalester College: Project Description

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Primary Outcome Examined (select one or more)

Student Learning: Assignment

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: Games

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)

(No) Personnel (number and quality)

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)



Social Sciences

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

(No) Library Administrator

Other Librarian

(No) Other (please describe)

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Methods and Tools (select one or more)

(No) Survey

(No) Interviews

(No) Focus Group(s)

(No) Observation

(No) Pre/Post Test


(No) Other (please describe)

Direct Data Type (select one or more)

(No) Student Portfolio

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

(No) 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. In addition to examining impact of instruction on information fluency skills, this project represents the first college-wide review of student capstone projects across the curriculum. Two of our analysis areas, evaluation of sources and communication of evidence, connect to three goals of our campus Statement of Student Learning: demonstrate intellectual depth and breadth, think critically and analyze effectively, and communicate effectively.

    This project allows us to share information with faculty about the impact of librarian-led instruction on student competencies in a data-driven manner, using student work artifacts directly relevant to the academic departments.

    Our team included campus leaders in assessment. Our librarian coordinator for student learning assessment lead the team which included our Associate Dean of Faculty and Associate Professor (Psychology), the Director of Institutional Research, our Campus Assessment Facilitator, and our Institutional Research Associate.

  • 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. This project examines student work intended as a culminating piece of research, demonstrating knowledge within their declared major, minimizing critiques that samples were not sufficiently high-stakes, or in an area outside of the student’s area of knowledge, to be adequately representative. Samples came from each broad division of the college, providing a snapshot view across the curriculum.

    Norming the rubric provided valuable conversations about specific assessment goals. Programmatic assessment has helped us work more intentionally on assessment for other student learning projects such as data fluency and academic integrity.

    This project provided several opportunities to talk with faculty, leading to faculty proactively seeking out librarians to review citation and research practices in student honors papers and spring capstone projects. Librarians used preliminary observations in conversations with faculty about developing assignments and increasing collaboration in mid-level courses.

    Our hypothesis that more instruction from librarians improved student work was supported.

  • 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. The project provided insight into faculty grading practices, giving librarians more confidence in suggesting pedagogical improvements around information fluency. We will modify how we teach citation practices.

    We will further analyze this study’s results by major and demographic information such as first-generation college students, and repeat this study with the 2012 cohort. We started tracking individual participation in course-integrated instruction sessions and research consultations with the 2012 cohort. We administered the Research Practices Survey to them in Fall 2012, early 2013, and will resurvey in Spring 2016. This will provide data examining information fluency for a cohort over time. We will obtain samples from a different selection of majors over the full academic year.

    We will present our findings to the campus community, offering the rubric and our expertise to faculty for information fluency evaluation, and share our results with our campus writing director to discuss improvement of student writing.

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

  1. Additional information on the project including presentations, articles, and team contact information can be found online at:

In Fall 2014, librarians identified selected senior capstone courses in each Macalester College discipline: Fine Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Interdisciplinary Studies. With student writing samples from six capstone courses, librarians evaluated student work using a rubric for demonstration of three information literacy skills: attribution, evaluation of sources, and communication of evidence. Student performance in these skill areas was compared to data containing information fluency class attendance and student participation in individual research consultations from Fall 2012-Fall 2014. Results indicate that students who receive more instruction from librarians through class sessions or research consultations perform better in these areas than students who attend fewer classes or individual research consultations.
Library_Ginny_Moran_AiA_poster_42x84.pdf “One-Shots” and Research Consultations Can Make a Difference