Assessment in Action

University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth: 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) 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

(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)

(No) Other (please describe)

Student Population (select one or more)

(No) Undergraduate

(No) Graduate


(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

(No) Other (please describe)

AiA Team Members (select one or more)

(No) Assessment Office

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) Interviews

(No) 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)

Other (please describe)

hours in the library

Indirect Data Type (select one or more)

(No) Test Scores


(No) Degree Completion Rate

(No) Retention Rate

(No) Other (please describe)

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. UMass Dartmouth is struggling with retention, and seeks to improve measures that contribute to student success. The campus was built fifty years ago in an intimidating architectural style, and the library just underwent the first renovation of an original campus building. Usage has greatly increased in the lighter and more comfortable space. We tested whether the renovation and the resulting increase in usage contributes to student success.
    We surveyed self-reported usage of the library and used GPA as the measure of “success.”
    Our inquiry question was: "Does the library as a place contribute to student success? Specifically, is there a relationship between the degree and type of usage of the renovated library and student success (i.e., GPA)?"
    Our team included two librarians, the faculty member responsible for the course which we surveyed, and an institutional researcher for help with survey design and analysis of the results

  • 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 project taught us a great deal about how to create and execute surveys. Unfortunately, we did not find a meaningful link between time spent in the library and freshman GPA (after many controls), but we did have some secondary discoveries which were very encouraging. The vast majority of students responding to the survey had strong favorable impressions of the contribution the library made to their academic success. We also did an introductory orientation to the classes showing students the facilities available to them, and compared the usage of the library by students present for the orientation to the usage by students who were not present. Those who had the orientation used the library significantly more than those who were not present. We decided to continue the early semester orientations.

  • 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 learned that students are more comfortable using the library if they have had an orientation tour very early in the semester. We will continue those tours for this class, and will try to engage other freshmen to walk through the building and get familiar with where they can seek help with research or technical problems.

    This project and the material covered in workshops and webinars really opened my eyes as to what types of surveys can be done. The planning, timing and IRB approval process required more lead time than I had estimated. I also had not realized how much can be gleaned from qualitative surveys and focus groups. Our survey was going after quantitative measures (hours spent, GPA, frequency of use) but I will feel less tied to those in the future.

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

  1. Lorraine Heffernan
    Claire T. Carney Library, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
    285 Old Westport Road
    North Dartmouth, MA 02747

The Relationship between Library Usage and Student Success

The AiA project undertaken at UMass Dartmouth explored whether the library as a place contributed to student success (GPA). We introduced freshmen to library facilities early in the semester and surveyed for self-reported usage later. Project findings uncovered only weak observed relationships between variables pertaining to library usage and first-term GPA. However, participation in the library orientation did have a positive impact on subsequent usage.