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UCLA Library Assessment Guide

"Assessment is used to make decisions that guide our future, not to validate decisions of the past."

Purpose - Why Are You Doing an Assessment?

As you begin an assessment project, there are some core questions to ask yourself and your team. Defining the ultimate purpose and goals of your project or assessment program will help organize your methodologies, rubrics and expected outcomes effectively. Remember that at UCLA Library, assessment is used to make decisions that guide our future, not to validate decisions of the past. 

Key questions:

  1. Are you doing assessment primarily to improve library operational effectiveness, focusing more on internal functions and improvements to operations? If so, your methodologies should identify expected assessment outcomes that will assist in making more effective management decisions that may impact budgets, staffing, resource allocation or equipment upgrades.
  2. Are you focused instead on the students themselves, measuring the impact of library services, space or collections on defined rubrics of their success, satisfaction, engagement, and/or measurable outcomes like improved GPA? In this case, your methodologies would put the student at the center of the assessment effort to see how your library impacts their scholastic and student life achievements.
  3. Are you doing assessment more for an external or third party need, such as university administration, with the hope of using solid data to show the library’s value to the university? A common presidential request is how the library impacts student success, retention or graduation rates. Methods of assessment here have to seek evidential data that syncs with university norms and expectations, where working closely with offices of institutional effectiveness or research may prove critical.
  4. Other macro-level purposes (e.g., chancellor’s office or state mandates or an accreditation agency such as WASC)?
  5. How will you use the information collected by assessment to help inform/impact your program/service?
  6. How might this assessment inform goals in your institution more broadly? What is your departmental mission statement and what are your desired outcomes?

Scan the Environment

Doing a thorough literature review should be an organizing principle of your assessment. There is a growing body of literature of assessment efforts in both the UC and CSU libraries that may prove very useful. 

In addition, an environmental scan of your own institution is essential as it will help you understand some of the following:

  1. What other assessment efforts has the university already undertaken that may influence or add value to the library’s efforts? UCLA Library staff should consult the Data Lake.
  2. If your assessment is part of a larger campus effort, who manages the ultimate collation of that larger data set? We strongly advise working with them to ensure your data outcomes and mode of presentation can sync easily with the emerging campus standards.
  3. What other campus units play an active part in formulating variables that may impact your data and influence your results (e.g. if assessing library space, understanding the role of dorms, student unions, recreation centers may prove worthwhile)
  4. Who on campus might you effectively partner with to do optimal assessment (e.g. facilities for space or a teaching faculty member for information literacy)?

Finding Partners

When the environmental scan is finished, consider if you might have better success, gather richer data, or have wider reach in sample size and so on if you find appropriate partners to work with on campus or off.

So who at UCLA might be a good partner to work with? Show them your plan. Get advice on your design, your rubrics, methodological approach, sample size, and variable identification. Examples of partners might include:

·      Center for Educational Assessment (CEA) in the Office of Instructional Development

·      Student Affairs Information & Research Office (SAIRO) 

·      Faculty Teaching and Learning offices (e.g. course redesign units)

·      Campus/academic affairs IT (e.g. Peoplesoft or Blackboard managers)

·      Student Association(s)

·      Hiring a consultant such as CSU Fullerton's Social Science Research Center.