Although Pulaski Technical College Libraries function in a supportive role to the academic work of the college, over the past 12 years library staff have implemented an Information Literacy curriculum and explored and implemented several methods of assessment in alignment with the College assessment standards of the time.
Beginning in 2004 the College gave Information Literacy curriculum-wide emphasis with the addition of an Information Literacy statement to the college syllabus template. From that point on, all courses were encouraged to include Information Literacy among the skills taught within each course.
PTC Ottenheimer Librarian staff worked during the Spring 2006 semester to align PTC coursework to the American College and Research Libraries Information Literacy Standards. The alignment focused on the core courses of College Seminar, Speech Communications, and English Composition I and English Composition II, but included other courses if they covered objectives of the Standards. The staff linked each objective according to the course or courses where the Information Literacy Performance Indicator Outcomes were Introduced and/or Reinforced by either the Librarian or the Instructor, or both. The curriculum was implemented in the Fall 2006 semester and published on the Library website.
As a self-assessment, an evaluation of student citations from final English Composition II papers was performed for the 2006-2007 academic year to assess the level of library usage by students. This review found that the majority of sources cited by students were from electronic library resources like databases suggesting that students at this level, either because of instructor requirements or student choice, were using the library for most of their research needs.
The Network of Illinois Learning Resources in Community Colleges Assessment Instrument was reviewed and questions from this Assessment Instrument were aligned to the ACRL Information Literacy Standards Performance Indicator Outcomes to serve as potential source of assessment. In the Fall 2007 semester a pre-test/post-test was launched in College Seminar courses as part of in-class Information Literacy Instructions. This assessment method was designed to test the immediate impact of Information Literacy sessions and was continued through the 2008-2009 academic year. Proposals were made to extend the pre-test/post-test through the core courses up through the English Composition II level but they were never implemented.
In Summer 2015 the Librarian staff working with the new Assessment Coordinator began work on the completion of the Assessment of Student Learning Planning Document (SLAP) and Data Collection, Analysis & Reporting Planning (DCARP) forms. These forms, which were to be completed by all academic and co-curricular divisions, aligned the Library services and mission to the College Student Learning Outcomes (SLO). Three SLOs were established for the Library:
To implement these plans the Librarian staff and the Assessment Coordinator developed a new assessment method designed to measure student learning and improvement in their selection of sources for research projects assigned as part of their course work. Research was reviewed and a tool developed that would allow faculty and librarians to compare sources that students considered for inclusion on their research projects to those that were actually utilized by the students and included in their final bibliographies for those research projects. This tool, named the Research Tracker, would be completed by students as they performed their initial research on their chosen topic for the course research project.
In the 2015-2016 academic year courses in English Composition and Anatomy & Physiology volunteered to implement the Research Tracker and provide data to the library at the end of each semester. A sample was taken from all courses and sources from each student’s Research Tracker was compared to the accompanying Bibliographies from the final paper.
A statistical analysis of the data sample from English Composition I found that although a trend was noted as those students with higher grades used more sources than those students who received lower grades on their assignments, the difference was not significant.
The findings and the process of evaluating the sampled data showed the library staff of the need for a standard rubric for the assessment of source appropriateness. Efforts should continue to expand the number and variety of courses that participate in the Information Literacy assessment program.
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