Assessment in Action

University of Illinois at Urbana: Project Description

Page 1


Primary Outcome Examined (select one or more)

Student Learning: Assignment

(No) Student Learning: Course

(No) Student Learning: Major

(No) Student Learning: Degree

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

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)

(No) 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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Inquiry Question (150 words open)

What was the project's primary inquiry question?

  1. We sought to discover the answer to the question: What are the most effective methods to introduce first-year international students to the academic library and what strategies will support their engagement and success in the research process? This question evolved to form a greater focus on introducing first-year international students to academic research and the role of the library in providing this introduction.

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. We focused on one of the key goals in the University’s Strategic Plan: to “provide transformative learning experiences.” This goal spoke specifically to our work with first-year international students who were engaging in their initial research papers at an American university. Coming from a wide variety of countries and lacking common library experiences, we sought to discover the impact the library could have on creating a positive initial research experience for this student population. Creating a team that included those responsible for the curriculum of the first-year ESL program as well as instruction librarians was essential in developing a holistic experience. The ESL program representatives were crucial in providing access to both the students and specific research assignments for the librarians. The combination of team members represented a variety of experiences and strengths.

  • 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 most significant contribution of this project is evidence of the difficulties first-year international students experience when they begin their research, particularly with regard to language. Increasing the role of librarians at this point can substantially influence student learning at the start of the research process. This study provided evidence of the role language plays in creating a successful search strategy and selecting appropriate keywords prior to beginning the information search itself and the subsequent identification of relevant articles. While our findings demonstrated some degree of success for first-year ESL students in writing topic statements, significant challenges were observed in their ability to identify appropriate keywords and alternatives. When evaluating articles for inclusion in their research, students also struggled to identify what criteria impacted an article’s credibility. This study demonstrates the importance of coordinated assessments on campus that include both academic programs and librarians.

  • 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 this project, the librarians and graduate assistants who provide the instruction to first-year ESL writing courses will have a greater role prior to the library instruction. The findings of the assessments associated with this project emphasized the important role librarians play in student success and have resulted in modifications to both assignments and assignment procedures for the courses. These changes also provide new opportunities for graduate assistants teaching in our instruction program to participate directly in student assessment, providing them valuable experiences as they prepare to enter the job market. The assessments employed in this project are likely to be replicated in additional first-year writing classes to further determine the role language plays in creating successful search strategies for non-ESL students.

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

  1. Contact: Susan Avery, Instructional Services Librarian, Undergraduate Library. e-mail:

AiAposter_Illinois_Avery.pdf Transforming the ESL Experience: Assessing First-year International Students in the Instruction Classroom