Assessment in Action

Michigan State 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) 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

(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)

(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)

Freshmen living on campus.

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

(No) English Composition

(No) General Education

(No) Information Literacy Credit Course

Other (please describe)

Our project was more focused on level than discipline in that we were assessing a service designed for freshmen living on campus. 97% of our freshmen live on campus, so all disciplines are potentially represented.

AiA Team Members (select one or more)

(No) Assessment Office

(No) Institutional Research

(No) Teaching Faculty

(No) Writing Center

(No) Information/Academic Technology

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) Pre/Post Test

(No) Rubric

Other (please describe)

Primarily, we used data retrieved at library service points which was correlated with student data. We also used records kept by our student workers describing the interactions they had with student patrons.

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) Degree Completion Rate

(No) Retention Rate

Other (please describe)

Re-enrollment status

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. Michigan State University is increasingly using learning analytics as a means to provide intervention for students at risk of not completing coursework and degrees. This project incorporates library data for the first time into the existing learning analytics environment. We chose to examine the Peer Reference Assistance (PRA) service because of its success over a librarian-staffed service, and because as we see our traditional reference numbers declining we are looking for ways to engage students and make a positive contribution to their post-secondary success. The team was composed of two librarians and two Student Affairs staff. One librarian and one SA staff member provided expertise in assessment methodology and data analysis, while the other librarian and SA staff member provided on-the-ground knowledge as coordinators of the PRA service and the residential Engagement Center, respectively.

  • 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. Our findings suggest different degrees of impact based on student level and human engagement with the library (people services vs. book/space services), but we do not have sufficient data to make generalizations. This project reiterates the difficulty in demonstrating even correlative relationships between library use and student success; while we can compare the numbers, there are many external and environmental factors for which we cannot account. However, we are reassured about the commitment to assessment on campus and we have learned about the importance of building relationships with reliable and skilled colleagues on campus.

  • 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 we will focus on:
    -Increased promotion of the peer reference assistance service. Our data suggests a positive impact which we infer is related to both the engagement and the research assistance, though we are only reaching a very small portion of our target audience (freshmen living on campus). We will maintain a student-staffed service but we will consider how adjustments to the service model might increase activity.
    -Better understanding of passively-collected data sources. By digging into some of the data that we collect as a matter of process, we’ve learned about our students and their behaviours. Leveraging these data can help us determine gaps in our services and appeal to those who need or use services most.

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

  1. Thus far, we have not published or presented on this project (outside of the poster session at ALA Annual).

    Team Leader:
    Ebony Magnus
    User Experience & Assessment Librarian
    Michigan State University
    366 W. Circle Drive
    East Lansing MI 48824

Magnus_AiAMSU.pdf Learning Together: Investigating the impact of peer research assistants at Michigan State University