Assessment in Action

University of California-Merced: Project Description

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Primary Outcome Examined (select one or more)

Student Learning: Assignment

(No) Student Learning: Course

(No) 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)

Other (please describe)

student achievement (course, semester GPA)

Primary Library Factor Examined (select one or more)


(No) Instruction: Games

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

(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)

Assessment Office

(No) 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) 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)

Student Reflections

Indirect Data Type (select one or more)

(No) Test Scores


(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. Our team assessed the impact of a first-year writing course co-developed by Writing faculty and librarians, crafted around an information literacy theme, and requiring regular student reflections about the research process. We chose to assess this model of embedded library instruction in order to determine its impact on students’ learning. Our investigation addressed an important priority of the campus to meet a new reaccreditation requirement from the Western Association of School and Colleges (WASC) which calls for evidence of information literacy skills in our undergraduate population. Team members brought together key collaborators from the library and the writing program including the writing program co-director. They were vital in connecting the assessment to curricular collaboration and provided access to student work. We found our campus assessment coordinator’s perspective on assessment approaches and evidence to collect beneficial. Though not formally part of our team, our campus’ institutional researcher also provided valuable consulting and statistical services.

  • 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 have been able to demonstrate the value of integrated information literacy instruction to Writing faculty through student reflections and faculty feedback findings. The words of students from their reflections are a compelling part of sharing the assessment results. In addition, students who received embedded information literacy instruction were able to demonstrate through authentic, direct evidence (final papers) that they were better able than their peers to select suitable sources, present arguments with evidence and cite correctly (3 of 4 sub-scales on the rubric). For those same students, we did not find a connection between the intervention of course-integrated library instruction and greater academic achievement, in writing course grades or overall GPA. Overall, this assessment points to the library’s contribution to student learning but has not been able to demonstrate an impact on student achievement (e.g. GPA). We have gained assessment knowledge from going through this process.

  • 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. Based on what we learned, we will be able to promote this model of library instruction as a way to teach students the skills, knowledge, and attitudes needed to be successful researchers. Our Writing program has committed funding this summer for Writing faculty to participate in a learning community focused on integrating the research process with the writing process. As a result, more Writing faculty will embed this curriculum into additional sections of introductory writing. This assessment has made it possible to pursue more systematic inclusion of information literacy into writing curriculum. Though we saw benefits to student learning, we did not see benefits to student academic achievement – at least not in the short term. We plan to follow-up with some students who participated in this curriculum to see if this early focus on information literacy makes an impact on their ability to succeed academically as they progress through their degree.

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

  1. Website:

    Assessment as Research Symposium: TRAIL: Teaching Research And Information Literacy, University of California, Merced. (March 2015) (Susan Mikkelsen, Matt Moberly)

    LOEX Conference, 2015: Think Like a Researcher!: A Library/Faculty Collaboration to Improve Student Success, Denver Colorado. (May 2015) (Susan Mikkelsen, Heather Devrick)

    Think Like a Researcher: Integrating the Research Process Into the Introductory Composition Curriculum. The New Information Literacy Instruction: Best Practices. Editors Patrick Ragains and Sandra Wood. New York: Roman and Littlefield, 2015. Accepted 2014, Forthcoming
    (Susan Mikkelsen, Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco)

    AiA Team Lead:
    Sara Davidson Squibb
    UC Merced Library

AiA_Poster_UCMerced_ALA2015_v3_com.pdf Assessing an Embedded Information Literacy Emphasis in Introductory Writing Classes