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Assessment for Librarians

A basic guide for doing assessments of library work.

The Assessment Process

Goals Information Actions assessment processThe assessment process is viewed here as a three phase cycle.

  • Goals -- Identify elements of our work that are important to the mission and goals of the College and Library.
  • Information -- Determine how well our work contributes to the goals with collection and analysis of evidence.
  • Actions -- Maintain and support areas of strength, pursue improvements where needed, and report and discuss what we learn from the assessment process.


Assessment Process: Flowchart

Each phase can include the following major steps. The numbering refers to sections of the Handbook page, which includes further guidelines, instructions, ideas, and tips for accomplishing each step.

Plans (Goals)

What should we assess?

1A. Goals. How does your work align with goals, mission, vision and values of the college, library, or your library unit?

1B. Criteria. Who are the internal or external "customers" for your work? What needs or expectations do they have for what you deliver to them? Are any professional or institutional standards relevant to your work?

1C. Assessment Target. What process, task, or other part of your work do you want to assess?


Do we meet expectations?

2A. Assessment Question. Does [blank] make the desired difference? How can [blank] work better?

2B. Evidence. A wide range of measurements and observations can be suitable: qualitative, quantitative, mixed, and triangulated. Remember assessment is not science but can use scientific rigor when appropriate.

2C. Analysis. Use the evidence to answer the assessment question. Avoid reporting just raw numbers unless they truly speak for themselves.


Can we do better?

3A. Reflection. What does this assessment tell us about the strengths and shortcomings of the work we assessed? Is there anything we can tweak or redesign in our work or our assessment in order to provide higher quality outcomes or information about those outcomes?

3B. Improvement.

3C. Insights. What have you learned from doing this assessment? About your work? About assessment? About the library?

3D. Sharing. Report, discuss, and communicate what you are doing.

Whole other pages can be developed and provided to spell out in exhausting, graduate seminar detail how to accomplish and succeed at each and every one of these key steps together with all kinds of tips and tricks of the trade and ideas for contingencies when things go wrong.

Assessment Process

In Assessment Clear and Simple, Walvoord lays out three steps for assessment of learning outcomes: Goals, Information, and Actions.

  • Goals: What do we expect our students to be able to do as a consequence of our work with them?  The goal statements should be meaningful to you and to your students.  The goals or outcomes to be assessed do not need to comprehensive, and may be restated and narrowed to what would be useful to be examined at this time.
  • Information: How can we know our students can do what we expect?  This can be a matter of measurement or evidence or observation or documentation or . . . .  Remember that the standard is "reasonably accurate and truthful," and that qualitative measures or multiple measures can serve you better than relying only on objective tests.
  • Actions: Of course the last step is to make improvements and take other actions to address problems and to support and maintain areas of strength.  Improvement is the true end of assessment, and if no actions are taken then assessment is wasted.
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