Assessment in Action

University of Northern Colorado: 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

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) 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)

All users of the library space, so all disciplines could have been represented.

AiA Team Members (select one or more)

(No) Assessment Office

(No) Institutional Research

(No) Teaching Faculty

(No) Writing Center

(No) Information/Academic Technology

Student Affairs

(No) Campus Administrator

(No) Library Administrator

(No) Other Librarian

Other (please describe)

Third team member is from University College, Academic Support & Advising, working with student-athletes. The campus Assessment Office and Institutional Research both provided assistance, but were not formally on the team.

Page 2


Methods and Tools (select one or more)

(No) Survey


Focus Group(s)


(No) Pre/Post Test

(No) Rubric

Other (please describe)

The Interview was a new method I call "Video Booth Confessional" modeled after reality TV shows; Observation was a furniture sweep recording use of the spaces and furnishings in the library. I also made use of Institutional data.

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)

Qualitative data from focus groups and the video booth; quantitative data from the furniture sweep and institutional data sets.

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. University of Northern Colorado’s Libraries has a robust history of assessment, measuring patron satisfaction since 1988, and more recently, assessing library instruction efforts. The Assessment in Action project presented a chance to better understand the role of the library as a place on campus. Team members brought additional emphases: what motivates students to use the library, and is there a relationship between library use and extra-curricular activity such as club sports? As the higher education experience adapts to the online environment, including collections transitioning to electronic formats, the time is right to ask what impact use of the library as a place on campus has on student success. Even with increasingly convenient online programs, the on-campus student population has stayed relatively stable; and many students rely on James A. Michener Library to be more than a “warehouse of books;” the library provides many varied, non-research services to students.

  • 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 explored the role that use of the Michener Library space plays in student success, as measured by GPA, retention, and completion. The mixed methods used to address the question provided rich data, including a qualitative understanding of student’s perceptions of the spaces, their preferences regarding comfort, noise level, technology such as wireless access, and distractions. The quantitative data is less conclusive, in part because the small sample size limits generalizability of the findings. However, overall the results are reassuring: students want to make use of the full range of spaces, furnishings, and varying degrees of quiet that Michener Library has to offer. Continuing assessment of use of space, with a more focused examination of the quantitative data, could further inform administrative decisions about space utilization or technological investment. For example, some years ago technology-equipped group study rooms were requested; students now ask for solo study space.

  • 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. This project has provided valuable appreciation for the ways in which students see and use the library as a place on campus. The neutral nature of the space, open to all, is unique among technologically-equipped places available to students. With these findings, Libraries administrators can more confidently continue the strong relationship with campus Information Management & Technology. In addition, there may be an opportunity to partner with other campus entities seeking to leverage the powerful opportunity that the library presents as a central place on campus that could be a direct link to the student body. Beyond basic library instruction, it may be that open access concerns, or a maker-space concept, could gain ascendancy in the library, assuring a degree of student buy-in and participation that might be lost in a less-visible part of campus. Better understanding that presence that Michener library has in the student consciousness is priceless.

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

  1. Presented, with Val Nye of American Indian Art Institute, and AiA Year One cohort, at CoALA, the Colorado Academic Library Association's 2014 Summit: Educating in a World of Diversity. Online, 19 June 2014.

    Team leader: Annie Epperson, University Libraries. 970-351-1535
    Campus team members:
    James Henderson -- Director of Student-Athlete Academic Success, Department of Athletics 970-351-2150
    Evan Welch -- Associate Dean of Student Life, Student Activities Office 970-351-2871

Designed & furnished for success: fostering an "academically social" campus space

Use of the library as a place on campus as a factor in student success was explored using mixed methods research. Focus groups, a furniture sweep, and video booth confessional, combined with institutional data, motivation, and co-curricular activities, to explore the effects of using the library on GPA and time to degree completion. Results indicate that participants have slightly higher GPAs and are on track to complete degrees within five years.