Assessment in Action

Brown University: 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: Games

(No) Instruction: One Shot

(No) Instruction: Course Embedded

(No) Instruction: Self-Paced Tutorials

(No) Reference

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

(No) General Education

(No) Information Literacy Credit Course

Other (please describe)

first year seminars

AiA Team Members (select one or more)

(No) Assessment Office

(No) Institutional Research

(No) Teaching Faculty

(No) Writing Center

(No) Information/Academic Technology

(No) Student Affairs

Campus Administrator

Library Administrator

Other Librarian

Other (please describe)

Director, Center for Teaching and Learning

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Methods and Tools (select one or more)



(No) Focus Group(s)

(No) Observation

Pre/Post Test


(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

(No) Other (please describe)

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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. The focus of this research evolved from targeting research support for online courses to more broadly understand research skills of first year students. This project offers an opportunity to inform information literacy instruction and connect it with broader campus initiatives, particularly First Year Seminars. An evaluation of library instruction had not been performed in many years and a strategic review was needed.

    The research design team is led by Sarah Bordac, Head of Instructional Design (Library), and includes: the Associate University Librarian for Research and Outreach Services and the Director of Library Planning and Assessment. Also advising on the project are the director of the Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning and the Associate Dean of the College for First-Year and Sophomore Studies. Both external partners were supportive and strategic partners of the library in collecting and then being able to implement findings.

  • 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. This project has provided the library with the information needed to define a plan of action for a recasting of library instruction. Faculty identified gaps in students’ research skills, which are not supported by current services. This research has identified a strategic opportunity for the Library to rethink its instruction program and collaborate with faculty and others on campus to develop new programs and connect students to the support they need. Specific areas of focus are workshops on topics currently not addressed generally elsewhere on campus including media literacy, visualization, data literacy, reading scholarly material, writing literature reviews. New ways of thinking about current services related to advanced research skills and issues related to academic integrity such as citation and copyright are also emerging from this research.

  • 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. As a result of this research the library will define a plan of action to offer a catalog of new and modified workshops and to evaluate the current instruction program. Opportunities to build on existing partnerships and reach out to new ones will be a part of this next step. This project supports the core mission of the library. Similar research had not been done recently and this project opens up a range of follow up questions.

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

  1. Sarah Evelyn Bordac
    Head, Instructional Design
    Brown University Library
    Box A
    Providence, RI 02912

    Project Web Site:

Plugging into the process: Enhancing disciplinary partnerships to provide robust student research skills

Brown University's project focused on developing an understanding of research skills of first year students. First Year Seminar faculty were interviewed about expectations and perceptions of student research skills. This research revealed opportunities for the Library to rethink its instruction program and collaborate with campus partners to develop programs and connect students to the support they need.