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Author Topic: The Obsession with "Assessment"  (Read 38928 times)
fogpilot
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« on: February 18, 2011, 1:40:42 PM »

At the university library where I work, there is an increasingly obsessive focus on the so-called "culture of assessment". We are being asked to attend meetings to discuss various issues relating to assessment. Questions like

What is your definition of assessment?

What would a great Assessment Culture look like in the -- Libraries?

What are you currently doing?

What would you like to do?

I confess I really do not understand this obsession. I mean, I can understand things like LibQual and how that might be helpful in getting a sense of what areas we might improve upon, but overall, how in the world do you “measure,” with empirical evidence, a student’s learning? How do you measure something like “critical thinking”? With a multiple choice test?

Frankly, I do not believe assessment leads to any measurable improvement in anything we do. It feels like a huge waste of time.
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larryc
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« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2012, 6:08:29 PM »

Of course it is a huge waste of time--so your goal should be to invest as little time as will satisfy your administrators. Begin like so: https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1GPCK_enUS419US419&ix=uca&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=library+assessment+plan

When you find one you like, I believe the appropriate command in MS Word is Ctrl-H for "find and replace" as in find the name of the university whose plan you are "adapting" and replace it with that of your own. Read it over--you may be finished!

We need to learn from our students.
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libwitch
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2012, 8:08:12 PM »

Larry has a point. 

That said - is there any indication where this sudden interest on the behalf of the library admin is coming from?  It is from the campus?  If so, it can be useful to start asking for further information -- such as how the college is framing assessment across the campus.

If not, it means the admin in question has probably read something or attended a conference and thought this was the next big thing.  Maybe someone could get them to share some of their reading/notes.    if everyone shows enough interest, sometimes it can actually go away.

Except for LibQual. Which is terrible.  And never ever dies.
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aandsdean
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2012, 8:21:38 PM »

Larry has a point. 

That said - is there any indication where this sudden interest on the behalf of the library admin is coming from?  It is from the campus?  If so, it can be useful to start asking for further information -- such as how the college is framing assessment across the campus.

If not, it means the admin in question has probably read something or attended a conference and thought this was the next big thing.  Maybe someone could get them to share some of their reading/notes.    if everyone shows enough interest, sometimes it can actually go away.

Except for LibQual. Which is terrible.  And never ever dies.

The regional accreditors want everything assessed now, not just academic programs.  Thus itnis "the next big thing," but the admins aren't making it up.  Sorry.
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mrm85959
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« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2012, 12:50:25 PM »

I confess I really do not understand this obsession. I mean, I can understand things like LibQual and how that might be helpful in getting a sense of what areas we might improve upon, but overall, how in the world do you “measure,” with empirical evidence, a student’s learning? How do you measure something like “critical thinking”? With a multiple choice test?


Well, I am hardly one to think that everything worth knowing is measurable, but at the same time, I do think that there are some things to be learned from empirical data.  For example, a local Research-1 university just got permission from their IRB to gather data on database usage, book circulation, instruction sessions attended, etc. on individual students in order to correlate that data with the students' "outcomes" (i.e. GPA, graduation rates).   

While the data won't show that "Libraries improve student learning," it will at least allow them say, "Use the library in the following ways is positively correlated with GPA and likelihood of four-year graduation".   Well, assuming they find a positive correlation, that is. :)     If they can do that, they'll likely benefit in future years from a budget standpoint.   
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