Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 290 — 2017
M. Sue Baughman, ARL Deputy Executive Director and RLI Editor
Academic and research libraries have been increasing their eﬀorts
for a number of years to demonstrate their contributions to student
learning outcomes in support of the institutional educational mission.
Whether through one-shot instruction or credited classes, libraries
invest a great deal of time and eﬀort in instructional programs. A key
challenge is the development of assessment methods that provide data
useful for understanding the impact of these oﬀerings. This issue of
Research Library Issues includes two case studies that explore various
data sources to assess student learning outcomes and experiences.
In the ﬁrst article, “The Impact of Academic Library Resources
on First-Year Students’ Learning Outcomes,” a team from the
University of Minnesota presents the ﬁndings of their recent study.
By examining student-reported feedback about use of library
resources (checking out books, using electronic resources, engaging
in reference services, etc.) and about high-level learning outcomes
(critical thinking and analytical skills, writing skills, and reading
comprehension), the team argues that the use of library resources
does play a role in students’ development of learning outcomes.
Cornell University Library staﬀ describe their exploration of a
variety of data sources to assess students’ experiences, not just
their skills, in the second article, “Multi-Method Assessment
to Improve Library Instruction.” This study examined faculty
perceptions of students’ information literacy skills and use of library
instruction as well as students’ opinions about the usefulness of
library instructional oﬀerings. Coupling these survey results with
information gleaned from student focus groups, the library decided
to conduct a pilot project with Cornell’s College of Engineering. The
well-received pilot project produced short, instructional videos to
help students develop speciﬁc library skills on an as-needed basis.