The Instruction and Outreach Department manages and coordinates library research instruction for students, faculty and staff through course-related workshops, outreach activities, personal consultations, research guides and other instructional materials.

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Assessing the assessment conference, part two

As Diane mentioned last week, several of us from Duke Libraries participated in ARL's Building Effective, Sustainable, Practical Assessment conference.  I enjoyed being in Baltimore and spending time with colleagues and friends and found day two of the three-day conference to be particularly beneficial.

Day two was chock-full of presentations and sessions:  A keynote in the morning, followed by three concurrent sessions (comprising three 30-minute presentations each) and another plenary.  We rounded out the day at an impressive reception at the exquisite Peabody Library at Johns Hopkins University.

I focused my attention on the sessions involving usability and qualitative research methods, given the nature of my current work at Duke.  The highlights?  Diane mentioned the impressive usability project University of Washington librarians conducted of their LibGuides.  Not only was their usability extremely thorough, but the librarians conducting the tests followed through on what they discovered, making on-the-fly changes as needed and then mandating that librarians edit their guides to reflect what they learned from their users.

Head of Web Services Jennifer Ward, also from University of Washington Libraries, reported on her department's relatively recent creation of personas to inform their website design.  We've considered the advantages and challenges (the time required, above all) of creating personas at Duke, so I appreciated hearing their step-by-step process for developing Brooke the Beginner, Paul the Professional and Sharon the Scholar, among others.  Duke's Web Interfaces Group plans to adapt UW's process for researching and creating personas of our own -- stay tuned for more.      

Of course, no assessment conference would be complete without a session or two on assessing students' learning in library instruction.  I enjoyed hearing from Catherine Pellegrino, who has clearly been thinking a lot about student learning since we attended ACRL Immersion together in 2009.  She reminded us to move beyond simply evaluating ourselves and our teaching to assessing what students are actually learning, breathing new life into those good ole' minute papers.  Rather than simply sticking those scraps of paper in a file folder, Catherine encouraged us to transcribe them verbatim and look for patterns in students' responses over the course of a semester, allowing patterns to inform our future teaching, both individually and programmatically.

Oh, and that impressive reporting form that Diane covets?  We've been in touch with our colleagues at Cornell to get more information about the technical aspects of the system.  We'll keep you posted...  

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