Assessment without review, analysis and change is a waste of everyone’s time
Today I’ve been thinking about assessment:
- I created a short survey to assess student learning after a one-shot library instruction session.
- I compiled student bibliographies from Fall 2009 courses I’ve worked with, in the hopes of analyzing what these students actually did.
- I’ve been thinking about how to effectively assess the information skills students (should have!) acquired during a Spring 2010 course I met with on 5 different occasions.
- I made some final edits to a very brief survey of user satisfaction at the reference and circulation desks (modeled after Miller, 2008).
I’m in the process of collecting a lot of data about how I well do my job.
What’s the next step?
If I just collect this data and report on it without making any changes, I have probably wasted everyone’s time. It is unlikely that the assessments will indicate that I am doing everything perfectly. The goal of assessing service, student learning, user satisfaction, etc. is to make these things better.
What kinds of changes can you make:
- Change your focus – In some classes I realized that students had a very good understanding of one concept I was trying to teach, but a poor concept of another. I was able to change the focus of my instruction to focus more on
- Change your goals – In some cases your assessment might reveal that your original goals are out of line with what students need. This happened at my library in the one-shot we taught for the First-Year writing class. We were able to re-align our goals with student needs. We’ll see if this helped our students when we do an assessment at the end of this semester.
- Go back to something that was working better before you made a change – The user satisfaction survey I’m working on right now is being done just prior to some big changes in the reference/circulation/service desks at my library. We plan to re-do the survey in the Fall and again in Spring 2011. Perhaps we’ll find that the changes result in a decrease in user satisfaction, although I sure hope not. It is theoretically possible that we will need to roll back some of the changes we made.
So, anyone have a quick and easy way to analyze student bibliographies?