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Using Assessment Results

Interpreting results

How do your results compare to the criteria you set for student learning success (e.g. 80% of students will be able to identify the subject specialist librarian for their major)? Are there any trends you can identify, such as a particular skill that students still don't seem to grasp? Where is there room for improvement? Are you trying to measure immediate retention or learning across time?

Rewriting outcomes

The first thing you might do after you analyze your results is to re-examine your learning outcomes. Do they accurately reflect the key skills you want students to learn? Sometimes your results will prompt you to rewrite an outcome, or add a completely new one, although it might be a good idea to test the outcomes several times before making changes to ensure that you are comparing similar results.

Revising assessment methods

Next, examine your assessment methods. Were they appropriate? Did they give you the information you need? If you wrote questions for a multiple choice assessment, do the results tell you that students didn't understand the question?

Changing what you do

In order to improve student learning, you might need to change what you do in your library instruction session. Take a pedagogical approach: think about the content (what you teach) and process (how you teach it). These changes can also occur at a programmatic level, where we answer questions such as these:

  1. Based on what students have learned in the program, what should they be able to demonstrate, create or accomplish?
  2. How and at what point in their academic path are students in the program provided the opportunity to learn a particular set of outcomes?
  3. What does the program hope to learn from its assessment of these outcomes?
  4. What methodologies will the program use to gather evidence about these learning outcomes?
  5. What were assessment results and what conclusions did they lead to?
  6. What decisions and/or actions has the program made or taken based on the results?

Working with librarian colleagues

As you begin to assess student learning, you can share your outcomes, methods and findings with your colleagues. You might begin discussions about shared outcomes, investigate curriculum mapping to see where particular skills are taught in library instruction classes, and share teaching tips.

Sharing results with faculty

With the culture of learning outcomes assessment growing stronger on campus, faculty members might be interested in your assessment process and results. This can be useful feedback for faculty as they design assignments and work with students on their research.