Assessment in Action

Boston University: 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

(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

(No) 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

(No) English Composition

General Education

(No) Information Literacy Credit Course

Other (please describe)

First-Year Writing

AiA Team Members (select one or more)

Assessment Office

(No) Institutional Research

Teaching Faculty

Writing Center

(No) Information/Academic Technology

(No) Student Affairs

(No) Campus Administrator

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


Other (please describe)

Scoring two student reflections (11 questions total) for evidence of learning outcome

Direct Data Type (select one or more)

Student Portfolio

Research Paper/Project

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)

Page 3

Inquiry Question (150 words open)

What was the project's primary inquiry question?

  1. What impact can expanded library engagement based on the ACRL Framework have on information literacy knowledge, skills, and habits of mind in a university writing program?

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. Boston University has a relatively new program of learning outcome assessment that asks "do students actually acquire, in the end, the particular knowledge, skills, habits of mind, and attitudes" that faculty, as well as co-curricular and extra-curricular programs, intend? The inclusion of habits of mind and attitudes alongside knowledge and skills resonates with the big picture approach of ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy. The Writing Program of the University’s College of Arts & Sciences plays a key role in the development of foundational skills and habits of undergraduate students with research and information literacy among the long-standing goals of the program. We saw an opportunity to develop learning outcomes informed and inspired by the Framework and, through Assessment in Action, to assess our effectiveness in achieving those outcomes. The team consisted of two librarians, two curriculum leaders from the Writing Program faculty, and the head of University’s learning outcome assessment program.

  • 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 project demonstrated that enhanced and expanded librarian engagement with students, based on two frames from the ACRL Framework, can increase students’ understanding and incorporation of the threshold concepts embodied in those frames. Perhaps more importantly, the project showed 1) how librarian/faculty collaboration in the development of assignments and activities can inculcate information literacy habits of mind in students; and 2) how student portfolios and reflective essays can be used to assess the success of those efforts. Assessment was a well-established practice in the Writing Program, but information literacy, though a stated goal of the program, received only rudimentary attention in the assessment efforts. The project, part of a broader program of curricular experimentation, points the way toward more successful incorporation of information literacy learning and assessment in the CAS Writing Program and beyond.

  • 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. Changes were already being implemented in the near-term as the results of the project. The experimental librarian interventions — flipped classroom videos, exercises and activities, mandatory meetings with a librarian — were modified and introduced to additional Writing Program sections the following semester. Plans are underway to use the same instruction and assessment methods with even larger groups of classes next fall, involving more students but also more faculty and librarians. Faculty and librarians have also been engaged in seminars and presentations designed to inform them about threshold concepts and the ACRL Framework as a basis for information literacy learning outcomes. The team leader is working with Writing Program administrators and faculty on curricular programs and improvements with greater attention to information literacy and information literacy assessment an acknowledged goal.

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

  1. Project Website:

    Faculty/Librarian Seminar: Threshold Concepts in Information Literacy and Writing Studies: New Collaborations, Boston University Libraries and College of Arts and Sciences Writing Program
    Co-led by team members Ken Liss (Libraries) and Sarah Madsen Hardy (Writing Program)
    - Session 1: Threshold Concepts and Their Use in Writing Programs, February 24, 2016
    - Session 2: Threshold Concepts and the New ACRL Framework for Information Literacy, March 16, 2016
    - Session 3: Librarians and Writing Instructors Collaborating, March 30, 2016

    Presentation: Assessment in Action: Measuring Librarian Impact in Achieving Information Literacy Learning Outcomes
    2nd Annual Boston University Assessment Symposium, March 18, 2016
    Presented by Ken Liss

    Using BEAM to Teach Information Literacy and Research-Based Writing
    Boston Rhetoric and Writing Network (BRAWN) Summer Institute
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, May 20, 2016
    Presented and Co-Facilitated by Joe Bizup, Director, Boston University CAS Writing Program; Ken Liss, Head of Liaison and Instruction Services, Boston University Libraries' and Rhonda Gray, Honors Program Coordinator, Roxbury Community College

This project, a collaboration between librarians and writing faculty, assessed the impact an enhanced library program based on the ACRL Framework could have on students’ information literacy in a university writing program. Control groups had an instruction session and optional meetings with a librarian while experimental groups had an instruction session, flipped classroom videos, required meetings with a librarian, and a librarian presence in Blackboard.
BU-Poster7a.pdf Telling students to “Get lost!” Research as Inquiry and Searching as Strategic Exploration: The ACRL Framework in a University Writing Program