Assessment in Action

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: Project Description

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Primary Outcome Examined (select one or more)

Student Learning: Assignment

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)

(No) Other (please describe)

Primary Library Factor Examined (select one or more)


(No) Instruction: Games

Instruction: One Shot

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) 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

(No) General Education

(No) Information Literacy Credit Course

Other (please describe)

First Year Experience courses

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)

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Methods and Tools (select one or more)

(No) Survey

(No) Interviews

(No) Focus Group(s)


Pre/Post Test

(No) Rubric

Other (please describe)

reflective journals, anecdotal information from faculty

Direct Data Type (select one or more)

(No) Student Portfolio

Research Paper/Project

Class Assignment (other than research paper/project)

(No) Other (please describe)

Indirect Data Type (select one or more)

Test Scores

(No) GPA

(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. Virginia Tech’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) focuses on the first year student and their experience transitioning to Virginia Tech. One of the pieces of the First Year Experience (FYE) courses is inquiry or information literacy. Because each course is discipline based, inquiry looks different in each course. In some courses, the librarian met with students several times and students had assignments related to the discipline while in other courses the librarian had a 20 minute section of one lecture. We wanted to assess student growth in such varied scenarios and determine if the outcome was determined by different teaching methods.

    This is a project in which we have been heavily involved since 2009. Our core team consists of a faculty member from the Office of Assessment, the assistant director of FYE and 4 librarians. As we have worked in smaller groups, we very often involved the faculty member instructing the course.

  • 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. We have learned so much on this journey. We have learned exactly how hard it is to create an assessment test! Over the years we have learned the importance of making sure we are testing what we teach. We have refined our assessment tool each year due to changes in information access and further refining our goals. We have aligned our learning outcomes with the assessment tool and each librarian in each course tracks the instruction to the test to ensure we are not testing students for something that hasn't been introduced. We are building a bank of best practices for our part of the FYE courses.

    Significant findings:
    Students will show growth if they are engaged in the work. A variety of teaching methods will work but an important piece seems to be a relevant assignment that requires them to practice the skills introduced.

  • 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 been ongoing since 2009. We have moved from creating a multiple choice assessment tool to adding open ended questions this year. We have worked with faculty to hone the assignments and make them more relevant and valid to students. We have served on norming committees for the different courses. We have tried a variety of teaching methods and understand methods must fit the students and the course.

    Assessment has been the key to everything and it is no longer the enemy!

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

  1. Miller, R.K., Debose, K.G., & Merrill, M. (2014 May). Stewarding our first year students into the information ecosystem. Presentation 14th USAIN Biennial Conference, Burlington VT

    Meier, C., (2014 April) Assessing Inquiry in Virginia Tech’s First Year Experience Program. Presentation,First Year Experience & Personal Librarian Conference. Case Western Reserve University. Cleveland, Ohio.

    Selberg-Eaton, R., Wood, C., Miller, R.K., and McConnell, C., (2013 October) Six departments, two hundred students and six learning outcomes in one credit first year seminar. Annual Conferencing of the International Society for Exploring Teaching and Learning. Orlando, FL

    DeBose, K., Meier, C., Miller, R.K., & Tomlin, P. (2012, February). Get thee to the library! Incorporating inquiry into first year programs. Presentation at the 2012 Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy, Blacksburg, VA.

    Meier, C., & Tomlin, P., (2013, April 12). Fostering Innovation, Expanding Librarian Roles: The Challenges and Opportunities of First Year Experience Programs. Roundtable Discussion, ACRL. Indianapolis, Indiana.

What is the impact of different instruction models on inquiry outcomes across 5 different FYE Courses?

How can we assess First Year Experience courses with different sizes and instruction models, but consistent outcomes? VT librarians, along with the Office of Assessment, developed an assessment tool (multiple-choice pre and posttest) to measure and analyze student inquiry growth. Dramatic results have been achieved for those sections using active learning and embedded librarians, giving librarians evidence of impact and more leverage for further inclusion.