Classes focus on concepts including policy, curriculum, adult learning, educational theory, and technology. Education Class Descriptions and Credit Information EDU Issues in Education 3 Credits This is an introductory course for students considering teaching as a career path or individuals seeking an increased understanding of the complexity and importance of education.
Every week it seems a new article or book is published expressing concerns about college costs,  low graduation rates, and what students are learning. Graduation rates are important measures. However, stakeholders in higher education have had their eyes on a different set of metrics for many years: Department of Education raised concerns about the quality of undergraduate student learning.
Unless we develop adequate instruments and generate compelling evidence libraries will be left out of important campus conversations. In this post I review current approaches to this problem and suggest new methods for addressing this challenge.
The challenge of linking library use to student learning Demonstrating connections between library use and undergraduate student achievement has proven a difficult task through the years. Several authors have suggested outcomes to which academic libraries contribute such as: Those of us who have worked in academic libraries have probably observed this mechanism at work with students we have known.
However, I believe relying exclusively on this measure is problematic. First, numerous factors influence retention and it can be difficult to isolate library impact on retention without extensive statistical controls. Second, retention is an aggregate student outcome; it is not a student learning outcome.
Retention is an important metric in higher education and we should seek connections between library use and this measure, but it does not satisfy our need to know how libraries contribute to student learning.
Grade point average Several authors have attempted to correlate student use of the library with grade point averages GPA. Charles Harrell studied many independent variables and found that GPA was not a significant predictor of library use. Webb reported on a large-scale study with a sample of over 8, students grouped by major and level of study.
As Wong and Webb note, studies that use correlation as a statistical method cannot assure causal relationships between variables; they can only show an association between library use measures and GPA.
Or do students who make better grades tend to use the library more? Without adequate statistical controls it is impossible to conclude library use had an impact on GPA. Also, as noted by Wong and Webb, it can be difficult to gain access to student grades to carry out this type of study. Information Literacy Outcomes Information literacy outcomes assessment is the most fully developed approach we have for demonstrating library contributions to undergraduate achievement.
Broadly speaking, information literacy skills encompass competencies in locating and evaluating information sources and using information in an ethical manner. Instruction in these skills is a core offering in academic libraries and findings from Project Information Literacy suggest there is still plenty of work to do!
Numerous methods have been used to assess information literacy skills including fixed-choice tests, analysis of student work, and rubrics. However, a recent review of regional accreditation standards for four-year institutions suggests there is uneven support for doing so.
In part, I think this reaffirms for us that many in higher education associate information literacy outcomes with general education outcomes such as critical thinking. While it may be encouraging for information literacy outcomes to be integrated into the college curriculum, I think this poses real difficulties when we attempt to isolate library contributions to these outcomes.
If information literacy and critical thinking skills are inter-related, how are we to assess one set of skills, but not the other? If information literacy skills are taught across the curriculum, when, where, and by whom should they be assessed?
Where does faculty influence stop and library influence begin?1 The costs of attending college continue to outpace standard cost of living indices.
From to , published tuition and fees at public 4-year colleges and universities increased at an annual average rate of % according to the College Board, exceeding % annual average increases in the Consumer Price Index over the same period.
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