Assessment in Action

Northern Michigan 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

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: 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

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)

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)

we analyzed bibliographies

Direct Data Type (select one or more)

(No) Student Portfolio

(No) 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) Degree Completion Rate

Retention Rate

Other (please describe)

Course grades

Page 3

Inquiry Question (150 words open)

What was the project's primary inquiry question?

  1. How great an impact does library instruction done by a librarian have on student success and retention in the first-year college composition course? In 2009, in part because of cuts in library faculty, instruction librarians began training first-year composition instructors to conduct library instruction. However, we were never able to assess their instruction satisfactorily or consistently. Our project compared the success and retention of students who received library instruction from a librarian in this course with those who received library instruction from their course instructor in order to discover if students received a greater benefit from library instruction done by a librarian.

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. In previous system reviews, the Higher Learning Commission had expressed an interest in Northern Michigan University collecting more direct assessment data (as opposed to survey data) on student learning. We had been unable to gather assessment data from the first-year composition instructors in order to determine whether or not having the course instructors conduct library instruction was contributing to student learning. Our team was composed of the library's Head of Public Services, who is also the library liaison to the English Department, another librarian who also chairs the General Education Committee, the university's Director of Assessment, the Director of Composition, and another instruction librarian. This team composition gave us the expertise we needed as well as the contacts necessary to complete the elements of the project.

  • 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 culture of assessment on our campus is perhaps not publicized enough; we learned how willing the Director of Assessment is to help define a project and to put us in touch with people who can contribute. We also learned about the assistance that we can get from the Office of Institutional Research. It is very important for us to get out of the library in order to work with these other entities; while we have had a faculty liaison program for decades, our interaction with administrative offices has been comparatively limited.
    Our most significant finding is that, although library instruction doesn't seem to offer significant assistance to most first-year college composition students, it does assist students who are struggling with the college experience in general.

  • 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. We will continue with our process of teaching the instructors the library skills that they can then pass on to their students. We have the opportunity to reach all new teaching assistants through their seminar on teaching composition, and we can also offer workshops to other composition instructors. We will also look into opportunities to work with the FYE course on our campus--perhaps not by offering face-to-face course instruction, but through creating tutorials and offering workshops.
    Our Director of Assessment is pleased that we did this project; it became one of our Action Projects for accreditation, using actual assessment of student learning to demonstrate the value of the library. It has also demonstrated ways to assess student learning that go beyond satisfaction surveys (our accrediting agency made a specific request that we find ways to assess learning as opposed to satisfaction).

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

  1. No articles have been published and the only presentation given (so far) is the upcoming poster session at ALA in Orlando.

    Team leader contact details:
    Mary P. (Mollie) Freier
    Head of Public Services and Professor
    Lydia M. Olson Library
    Northern Michigan University
    1401 Presque Isle Avenue
    Marquette, MI 49855

In 2009, library instruction was discontinued for NMU’s first-year composition course. Recent research indicated that we might want to reconsider this strategy. In the Fall Semester of 2015, library instruction was once again offered to EN 111: College Composition I. Bibliographies from these sections were also analyzed. Student data was also analyzed to see if there was a relationship between instruction and retention and student success.
poster.pdf Library Instruction in College Composition I at Northern Michigan University