Assessment in Action

Washington University in St. Louis: Project Description

Page 1


Primary Outcome Examined (select one or more)

(No) Student Learning: Assignment

Student Learning: Course

(No) Student Learning: Major

(No) Student Learning: Degree

(No) Student Engagement

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) 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

(No) 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

English Composition

(No) General Education

(No) Information Literacy Credit Course

(No) Other (please describe)

AiA Team Members (select one or more)

(No) Assessment Office

(No) Institutional Research

(No) Teaching Faculty

Writing Center

(No) Information/Academic Technology

(No) Student Affairs

(No) Campus Administrator

(No) Library Administrator

Other Librarian

(No) Other (please describe)

Page 2


Methods and Tools (select one or more)

(No) Survey

(No) Interviews

(No) Focus Group(s)

(No) Observation

(No) Pre/Post Test

(No) Rubric

Other (please describe)

Tracked students seeking our services.

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)

Indirect Data Type (select one or more)

(No) Test Scores

(No) GPA

(No) Degree Completion Rate

(No) Retention Rate

Other (please describe)

Class grades

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. Central to the mission of Washington University in St. Louis is to prepare students with the attitudes, skills, and habits of lifelong learning and leadership. Writing 1, the English Composition course that is part of general education requirements for all entering students, serves as means for students to gain the necessary skills in effective writing and research. The university has not, however, conducted a systematic assessment and review of the role of student support services in student’s learning and success. This collaboration of The Writing Center, Cornerstone: Center for Advanced Learning, and the University Libraries is a first step in determining our impact on the intellectual development of students. The intention is to use a similar methodology in future assessment projects in the undergraduate and graduate curriculum. The collaboration can also serve as a model for other academic units and support services on assessment methodologies and practices.

  • 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. The results suggest that writing assistance had an impact on the students whose native language is not English. Although students who sought assistance from any of the units performed better than peers who did not seek assistance, the examination of each unit separately suggests that the writing centers had more of an impact on student success than did the Washington University Libraries. The results did not show an impact for either native or non-native English-speakers with respect to library instruction and/or research consultations.

    The current Writing 1 curriculum only has a research component for one assignment, whereas the students’ writing is assessed for every assignment. The Washington University Libraries can focus its future assessment projects on undergraduate and graduate classes where library research is a major component in the overall grade.

  • 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. It is premature to make any definitive decisions, as we have only analyzed results for Fall 2014. Once we have compiled and analyzed the data for Spring 2015, we will have a more complete picture. With that said, we recommend that the University Libraries focus its assessment efforts on individual classes where library research is a major component of the class assignments. The advantage of Writing 1 was the number of students (approximately 800) enrolled each semester. However, library research was only a component in one assignment. As a result, the findings were inconclusive for the library. Conducting a similar assessment on students enrolled in an upper-level seminar class, where the major assignment is a research paper, may yield more meaningful results.

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

  1. Assessment in Action poster session is the only presentation at this time. You can find the literature review and other supplementary documentation at If you have further questions, please contact Stephanie Atkins Sharpe at or 314-935-8235.

aia_poster_sharpe_final.pdf Assessing Research and Writing Support for First-Year Writing