Friday, May 10, 2013

ACRL 2013 Conference Notes: On Creating a Culture of Assessment

ACRL Panel Session
Topic: Creating a Culture of Assessment: Determinants of Success
Date: Friday, April 12, 2013, 8:30am

Since I did the preconference on assessment earlier, I figured this would be a nice addition to my learning experience. Plus, the preconference presenters did recommend it.

  • On defining a culture of assessment. Definitions can vary. One idea: an "organizational environment in which decisions are based on facts, research, and analysis." 
  • What it means: 
    • Assessment is the norm and regular practice. 
    • It is done for improvement, not accountability. 
    • It is user-focused. 
    • It is driven by learning and curiosity. 
    • Decisions are based on the results of the assessments. 
    • We hold ourselves to the same standards as other departments. 
  • Assessment can be used for advocacy and to inform teaching. 
  • Suggested reading: Haviland, Don, "Leading Assessment: From Faculty Reluctance to Faculty Engagement." Academic Leadership 7.1 (2009). (The citation as provided in the panel was not correct. Took some digging, but here it is.)
  • Culture of assessment requires changing people's thinking. 
  • Suggested reading: Lakos, Amos and Shelley E. Phipps, "Creating a Culture of Assessment: A Catalyst for Organizational Change." portal: Libraries and the Academy. 4.3 (July 2004). (I thought these authors were familiar, so I checked to see if I had read this particular article. I have not, but I read another article where they are cited, thus my small sense of deja vu. I will have to read it and write it up when I get a moment).
    • A learning culture committed to learning. 
  • We need administrators who are unfailing in terms of support and use assessment results in planning and decisions. Some say, however, that administration cannot be top down. 
  • Librarians need to be empowered and act on what they have learned. 
  • Suggested reading: Nodye, Abdou and Michele A. Parker, "Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Assessment." Planning for Higher Education 38.2 (2010). (Nice to see this one is open online).
  • A couple of facilitating factors: 
    • If there is a campus-wide initiative for assessment. 
    • If the library gets involved in said initiative. 
  • Presenters report finding that "culture of assessment" is in the eye of the beholder. Some people may report not having a culture of assessment in their institutions, but they may have some traits of it. 
    • Without institutional commitment to assess, the culture of assessment is not likely to exist.
    • Having faculty status (for librarians) isn't associated with culture of assessment. Some report having the culture due the obligations of tenure, or viceversa, tenure prevents assessment. 
    • Of the libraries reporting clear expectations and having an assessment plan, 92% reported having a culture of assessment. 
  • In the end: Having a clear understanding of, expectations for, and a plan for assessment. Having an administration that makes assessment a priority and leads by example by using assessment data. These are the most important factors related to a library achieving a culture of assessment. 

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