Category Archives: Assessment&Evaluation

September 26, 2011, 5:24 pm

What It Takes To Become A Scholar: helping students scale the taxonomy

We’re working on round two of our graduate student ethnography project. I plan to release the findings in January as a collection of whitepapers. The batch will include themes such as mentoring, collaboration, criticism, and work process. But my favorite thread is the progression from student to scholar. It has been fascinating to review the self-analysis and see how a scholar is defined.

Two predominate qualities emerged: independence & creation.

Some sample quotes:

1. “As you go through grad school at least in English, you begin to develop more into sort of an independent writer and scholar…. You start thinking more in terms of I’m making a book length argument that has to be interesting vs. I’ve gotta write this short argument that I think is what my professor wants.”

2. “As an undergrad, you were presented with deadlines that were dictated by others. And they we…

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May 24, 2011, 12:11 pm

ORGANIZING A DESIGN CHARRETTE: gathering a visual response for learning spaces (a packet)

We’re gearing up for a sizeable renovation and I’ve been trying to include students and faculty in on the interior design discussion. I’m planning a full post on the campaign later this summer—most likely after ALA—but in the meantime, I wanted to share this with others working on similar projects.

I’m a big fan of the design charrette activity. Having used it before, I definitely wanted to include it in my current efforts. It’s easy to conduct and students always seem to enjoy it as an outlet for creative expression. It’s also helpful to gather a visual response when talking about learning spaces.

This time around I wanted to conduct the charrette in a very public setting. I wanted everyone who entered the library to see it happening and to have the opportunity to participate—or at the very least to take s look at the renderings and other information that was…

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May 2, 2011, 1:03 pm

THE VIRTUAL REALITY: Exploring graduate student use patterns of the UCSB Library

The UC institutional repository doesn’t have a space for library-generated papers, so I’ll just post it here. My SEO is decent so hopefully it will be discoverable.

Exploring graduate student use patterns of the UCSB Library
An ethnographic study

Prepared by Lindsay Vogt, Anthropology Graduate Student, UCSB
in collaboration with Brian Mathews, UCSB Library

Executive Summary (with an internal link to the full report)

I’ll let the report speak for itself. This is part one of a larger project, currently on hiatus, but hopefully will pick up again after ALA in New Orleans. In a nutshell, I hired an anthro grad student to help me study grad students. This paper is an internal document, but I figured since many librarians are interested in anthro research these days that it might be of some value. After our next report is done we’ll turn our work into a…

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April 27, 2011, 11:53 am

Can you encourage people to recycle? Our attempt to switch behavior

This is a follow-up to my post Assessing Your Greenness: a serendipitous stroll toward sustainability.

Our campus recently conducted a waste stream audit in the library. Download UCSB_Library_Waste_Audit What it boils down to is that our patrons generate a lot of garbage.This gives you a sense of coffee cups alone:


It will be interesting to see what happens when we temporarily close our coffee operations during a long renovation. Obviously students will still bring coffee into the building, but I suspect they’ll consume less when the impulse to purchase is no longer right down the hall.



The biggest takeaway from this experience is that students are not recycling– at least not as much as we expected. UCSB prides itself on sustainability and being eco-minded so I was anticipating higher numbers. What it boils down to is that 66% of our waste is recyclable, yet only…

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September 30, 2010, 7:28 am

Applied Diplomacy: an assessment attempt to discover what people know, don’t know, and want to know

I’m experimenting with an assessment tactic. I have a pile of multicolored sticky notes in my office related to another project AND I was preparing for a meeting with our User Services Group to talk broadly & briefly about the topic of assessment AND I was reading Visual Meetings–  so basically I was looking for a way to blend all those components.


A theme that I keep coming back to is do we know our users? We can read about them and obviously we interact with them daily, but do we really know them? Do we really know the process that grad students experience as they prep for candidacy?  Do we really know what happens in the dorms the night before a big assignment is due? Do we really know faculty tendencies when starting a new article or when they prep to teach a brand new course?


I tend to be overly curiously, but what about my colleagues? What I realized is that I didn’t know …

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May 10, 2010, 4:19 pm

Need Homework Help? Don’t ask us! A review of Course Hero’s reference service (Part 2 of 3)

I found Course Hero’s Homework Help to be very tempting. Here
is the screen you are greeted with when you first log-in:


Inviting, huh? And pretty straightforward. Subject. Ability
to attach your assignment. Your Due Date & Time. Submit it and then you just chill and wait while the
experts work on your homework.


Here is how it works:


And who are these experts? Tutors who are allegedly affiliated with top tier universities. Let's meet a few:


Ok, great. Let’s give them a test. I started with a fairly common question that you might get at any ref desk or via email or chat or txt around the country:

"I need to find
three "peer-reviewed" articles for my english class. I have to write
about Hawthorne and the occult. I was looking on google but can't seem to get
the full articles, just some abstracts?”

 This is the response I received:


"Us" huh? Got a team…

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May 5, 2010, 11:38 am

Assessing Your Greenness: a serendipitous stroll toward sustainability

Last week a student walked
into the admin office with an idea. He was very excited and enthusiastic. He
suggested that we get rid of the paper towel dispensers and install the new quick
dry systems like they have in McDonalds. Apparently there are newer models that
are much improved over the older style. I’ve discovered that there is much debate on this topic.


The student and I talked for
a good 15 minutes: the environmental impact, workload, sanitation, noise,
costs, etc. It was good to go through the process. To me the conversation
wasn’t necessarily about hand dryers, but about brainstorming and encouraging
this student to ponder the outcomes. I’m not opposed to the idea but the two
concerns I have are the sanitation of the “activate” button, and the noise that
the machines might make in our quiet study zones.


All and all it was a good
talk. I told him I was exploring a …

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April 21, 2010, 12:25 pm

Building A User-Generated e-Reserve System: a glance into the archives of CourseHero (part 1)

post “
File Sharers Swap Scholarly Materials

has been the most read item on this blog. People seem to really like that theme
so I’ll explore it a bit more. Often when we talk about Open Access,
Institutional Repositories, the Publishing Crisis, or similar topics it tends
to be very esoteric. There is a lot of rhetoric, debate, and models that honestly
I think only accountants and lawyers can get excited about. I’m not so sure
that the average faculty member really cares about the economics of the
publishing industry or a court’s interpretation of fair use. We’ll save that
for another day.

I’m really interested in is how all this stuff applies to the world outside of
libraries. I found it fascinating that The
Pirate Bay
had some (expensive) academic materials and not just Jay-Z
tracks or episodes of LOST. So, what if there was a site designed to collect

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March 26, 2010, 1:48 pm

If you have a serious question don’t turn to KGB: the story of how this for-profit text ref service fails

A few years ago during the
NCAA Basketball Tournament Questia
was dropping a lot of cash on commercials, essentially trying to lure college
kids (or their parents) into monthly subscriptions for materials that most of
them probably already had access to. The real product though wasn’t the books
and articles per se, but the idea of getting information via an easy-to-use
centralized interface. A dream that academic libraries have failed to provide
(although we’re getting closer with products like SUMMON.)

This year I’ve been seeing
ads for the text service KGB. They are
not a new company, in fact I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time but
it took a
state holiday
to free up the time. Anyway KGB purports to offer “high-quality
answers on the go” for 99 cents. They are appealing to mobile users everywhere
who just want answers. Looking at their sample questions online the…

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June 2, 2006, 10:36 am

Assessment Stuff

Ok, so this is my latest article: The Role of Industry Standards: An Overview of the Top Engineering Schools’ Libraries. It took me two years to write this due to motivation issues. It’s about engineering standards and kind of boring.


A far more interesting article in the same issue comes from Penn State: Assessing Reference: Using the Wisconsin-Ohio Reference Evaluation Program in an Academic Science Library


I am intrigued by the WOREP survey tool and hope that we use something similar in conjunction with LibQUAL+ this Fall. The gist of it is that it seeks to measure reference performance by collecting data from both the patron and the staff involved in a particular reference transaction and evaluating the success and satisfaction of the experience. Often times we (I) feel pretty satisfied with the assistance provided, but what do they think of us? While I am intrigued…

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