Assessment in Action

Davidson College: 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

(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 Experience

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) Reference

(No) Educational Role (other than reference or instruction)

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)

Other (please describe)

Library Services (Overall)

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

(No) General Education

(No) Information Literacy Credit Course

Other (please describe)

Co-curricular programs (Leadership, service-learning, community engagement, entrepreneurship)

AiA Team Members (select one or more)

(No) Assessment Office

Institutional Research

(No) 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) Interviews

Focus Group(s)

(No) Observation

(No) Pre/Post Test

(No) Rubric

(No) Other (please describe)

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) GPA

(No) Degree Completion Rate

(No) Retention Rate

Other (please describe)

Student attitudes about the library

Page 3

Inquiry Question (150 words open)

What was the project's primary inquiry question?

  1. The project sought to investigate what impact the Davidson College Library has on students involved in co-curricular programs, such as those offered through the Center for Civic Engagement or the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Initiative. These students (here on out referred to as co-curricular students) all presumably have distinct needs based on the co-curricular programs in which they are involved. For this reason, the inquiry into library impact took the form of: how do co-curricular students view the library in relation to their co-curricular and curricular learning needs?

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. Davidson College is focused on providing learning experiences that help students become well-rounded citizens and leaders after graduation. Co-curricular programs that extend learning beyond the classroom are essential to the College’s vision for graduating students. By investigating how the library impacts students engaged in co-curricular activities, this project is likewise connected to the goals of the College.

    The assessment team comprised of two librarians and the Associate Vice President for Planning and Institutional Research. The members of this group were natural fits for the project because they had background in the types of instruments that would be incorporated into the assessment project. Of the initial group, one of the librarians had experience administering the MISO survey, which was one of the primary measures used for the project. The Institutional Researcher brought knowledge of focus groups, which was the focus of the qualitative portion of the study.

  • 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. Several themes emerged both from the survey instrument and the focus groups which suggest areas the Library can target which would have high impact on students. The findings were less specific to co-curricular learning than had hoped, and it is unclear if successive changes to library space and services will impact students in ways that are distinctly relevant to co-curricular learning. Regardless, insights from the study are significant to addressing library impact on student learning as a whole, such as the study’s finding that students are not fully aware of librarian’s role in the research 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. By focusing on themes that emerged in the project's focus groups, the Davidson College Library will create an agenda for agile development of the library space and services—subsequent improvements will be assessed, revised, and reassessed. These recursive changes should maximize Library impact on co-curricular students, and may also be relevant to the student body as a whole.

    Beyond the findings relevant to project at hand, the project also generated additional ideas for assessment. When formulating a focus group script, the assessment team brainstormed questions raised by our quantitative data. For instance, in considering student satisfaction with collections, we asked: what do students look for in e-books? The list of questions developed in the process will be an excellent starting point for future assessment projects in and out of the library, especially since many of the questions on the list did not make it into the focus group script.

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

  1. Team Leader:
    James Sponsel, Information Literacy Librarian
    Davidson College, Davidson NC

Co-curricular student groups, such as programs centered on civic-engagement and entrepreneurship, are important stakeholders for academic libraries because they foster learning opportunities outside of the classroom. The current study investigates what impact the Davidson College Library has on these groups, particularly in the context of co-curricular learning. A mixed-method approach, involving surveys and focus groups, was used to identify which aspects of library space and services co-curricular students value in their academic and social lives.
sponsel_aia_poster.pdf Co-Curricular Students as Stakeholders: Gauging Perceptions of an Academic Library