Focus on Assessment: Summer 2017

Well, summer 2017 was yet another one that seemed to go by in a flash. Now that the new term is in session, it’s time to share some of what the Assessment Department has been up to and where we’re headed. In addition to consulting with many of you on projects — from conducting your own UX studies to assessing services — we’ve also been busy working to move the Libraries forward in a number of areas.

Some highlights from 2017 include:

  • UX work on Scholarsphere, subject library web pages, and assessing the new budget request system.
  • The Ithaka Survey of Undergraduates conducted in spring 2016, continues to provide additional insights about our undergraduate population. Susan Lane, as part of a job enrichment opportunity, continues to mine the data for insights relative to international students.
  • A study of international undergraduate students and what contributes to their feelings of belonging in our spaces was completed in spring, led by Diversity Resident Librarian Alia Gant, and Library Assessment Graduate Assistant Chao Su. Together they led a team of researchers to learn what we as Libraries do to promote a sense of belonging. They interviewed 27 library personnel across seven campuses, and conducted focus groups across three campuses to learn from the student perspective what Libraries can do to contribute a sense of belonging. For those interested, an internal report is available.
  • Both of the international undergraduate focused projects were used to develop a comprehensive report about what we know about the needs of our international student population and presented to Mark Mattson, Global Partnership and Outreach librarian. Mark has a number of activities and events planned for the upcoming term informed in part by report contents. We hope to share some of what we’ve learned in a forum later this fall.
  • Reporting out from our organization is complicated due to the many locations, systems, and oddities of our collections. To begin evaluating our processes for reporting with an eye toward improving accuracy & efficiencies, Sherry Roth and Lana Munip have teamed up to develop a database of reporting procedures. This project has the potential to reduce time and complexities in external reporting and improve the overall accuracy of the values we report.
  • In order to know how we’re doing we need to know how we’ve done in the past, and how we compare historically with peers. To that end we have compiled 10 years of key ARL data for the PSUL and our BTAA peers. We have also developed a 2015-2016 snapshot that includes rankings across the statistical categories. Now we’re working to get the data loaded to our web page so you can make use of it.

Looking forward, we’re going to continue to mine data from the Ithaka Survey of Undergraduates 2016, looking at subsets of responses for various purposes, including responses from engineering students, first-generation students, and overall responses to Information Literacy and other questions in the “Undergraduate Research” module. We plan to conduct a number of UX projects focused on aspects of our web presence. We are ramping up in preparation for reporting out to ARL, ACRL, & IPEDS, in addition to conducting the Library Inventory Report. We’ll continue with our benchmarking and visualization work.  We have some exciting plans to collaborate with colleagues at Montana State University around participatory design, which will culminate in a research project with first-generation students, and we are getting ready to begin work relative to building a library data warehouse.

This may seem like quite a full plate for a small office, but we like what we do so we’ll manage.

If you have assessment questions, or project ideas that you’d like help and would like to set up a consultation, reach out to anyone in the Assessment Department. We’ll be happy to work with you.

– submitted by Steve Borrelli