Monday, April 21, 2008

Assessment for instruction in Spring 2008

I was pleased that my second semester at Eckerd College involved a lot of instruction for the NAS Collegium. I asked students in the instruction sessions to fill out a short survey on SurveyMonkey to assess the classes. I learned that asking students to fill out the survey in class before leaving was much more effective than asking them to do it at home. Therefore, a few classes did not receive many responses. Nevertheless, the following statistics may be of interest.

First, I want to thank all the students who took the time to complete their surveys.

For Spring 2008, I received responses from 154 students. I cannot consider this individual students taught because I saw some students more than once, although for different lessons. Furthermore, I cannot say that the students reached were all within the NAS Collegium. I know some of the students were from Environmental Studies in the BES Collegium, and possibly other collegia as well. I think for next fall, I will change my survey to find out how many students see me more than once in a semester. For sessions near the end of the semester, I began implementing a pre-class assignment to find out who had me before, what they knew about the library, and what thoughts they had about their topics. I found this very helpful because it allowed me to tailor my session more effectively. It also meant that students had thought, at least a little bit, about their assignment before I showed them the resources that would help them. The latter developed from a session I did in February where the class had no idea what their assignment was, much less what topics were of interest to them. The concept of a pre-class assignment developed from a workshop I attended called Best Practices in Information Literacy offered by Tampa Bay Library Consortium. The instructors were librarians at the University of South Florida, Susan Ariew and Ilene Frank.

Breakdown by Student Status

Freshman 30.7% 47
Sophomore 11.1% 17
Junior 28.8% 44
Senior 29.4% 45

Most students felt that the instruction session would help them with their assignment. Students respond better to instruction when it is tied to the outcome of an assignment. With one professor, we also created an in-class assignment for the students to turn in and receive credit for completion. This class was the most engaged of any of the sessions I instructed this semester.

Will this instruction session help you with your research assignment for this class?
Yes 83.1% 123
No 5.4% 8
I don't know 11.5% 17

Again, I was pleased that most students thought the instruction should be included in the class in the future. I believe many of the student who answered No thought that they should have had instruction earlier in their careers at Eckerd. The open-ended comments often indicated a desire to have learned the skills I taught earlier. I think this is perhaps the most important lesson for the NAS community. Students should be learning how to research in the sciences in Freshman and Sophomore year. If faculty can include assignments that involve some library research earlier on, this will benefit our students. The assignment does not have to be a full-blown research paper. Many smaller assignments can involve library research. Please see me if you would like to discuss setting up those assignments for Fall.

Do you think this instruction session should be included in this class in the future?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes 72.5% 111
No 15.0% 23
I don't know 12.4% 19

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