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This statement defines the goal of assessing student learning:
Student learning outcomes focus not on what the faculty member knows, but on what a student knows or can do after being involved in a course or program. The assessment of student learning outcomes provides information that puts student learning at the forefront of academic planning processes.
Assessment of student learning outcomes is different from evaluation of teaching, or evaluation of a library instruction session. Teaching evaluations focus on such things as the student's perception of the session, a student's feelings about the session and/or the library, and subjective aspects such as the librarian's teaching style or presentation skills. Assessment of student learning focuses on whether or not the student has learned what the librarian set out to teach.
Assessment of student learning is an important means for improving teaching and learning in higher education. Student learning outcomes assessment has become a focus of national efforts to improve higher education (such as the Spellings Commission) as well as a key concern for higher education accrediting organizations (such as the Middle States Commission on Higher Education). Within institutions of higher education there is a movement toward a culture of assessment that focuses attention on student learning and the improvement of teaching. The University of Maryland is committed to the assessment of student learning under the direction of the Provost's Commission on Learning Outcomes Assessment.
Maggie Cunningham, Head, User Education Services, and member of the User Experience Group provides direction for the Libraries' assessment of student learning activities.
Student Learning Outcomes Assessment is being conducted:
- In the Libraries' large first-year programs;
- In a variety of our subject-specific instruction, especially those courses taught routinely with multiple sections;
- In our technical skills workshops, e.g.. Geographic Information Systems Workshops.
We apply the Association of College & Research Libraries’ Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education as a basis in devising our student learning outcomes.
At the University Libraries, the following pages are designed to help instruction librarians work through the assessment cycle, starting with an overview of the assessment process.
Contact User Education Services.