Jean and Charles Schulz Information Center
University Library '' Information Competence in the Freshmen Interest Group'' Project Assessment

Information Competence in the Freshmen Interest Group

Project Assessment

Description | Abstract | Project Activities & Calendar | Related Course Syllabi | Learning Outcomes |Training Materials | Assessment | Budget | Qualifications

Assessment of the project was built into all aspects of the grant, from the use of pre- and post- tests to the exit interviews at the end of the semester.

Overall, students met the goals of the project, demonstrating an enhanced understanding of information competence by the end of the semester. They exhibited a better understanding of information, its uses, etc. They clearly indicated greater comfort in asking for help in the library. However, while all the students were introduced to a variety of types of resources and indicated an awareness of a variety of sources, a majority still demonstrated heavy reliance on the web. Evaluation skills also improved, but will need to be constantly revisited.

In general, faculty and peer mentors experienced a range of self-described learning. Some believed the training was primarily a refresher course for them, a thorough review of their own previously gained knowledge of information competence, whereas others appreciated mastering the subtleties of the discipline. Some instructors were especially appreciative of the advanced knowledge of a wide variety of databases gained by participating in library workshops with their students. Most importantly, all appreciated the more systematic approach to the standards, and the kind of structure this approach offered to their own teaching.

Moreover, most of the faculty participants indicated the knowledge they had gained from the program would alter how they write assignments, not only for the Freshman Seminar, but in their other classes as well. All recognized the grant was beneficial in terms of faculty development and was applicable beyond the curriculum of the Freshman Seminar class.

Assessment Tools
Pre- and Post-tests:
Pre- and post- test were administered to all students, faculty and peer advisors participating in the project. The questions were designed to relate to the five ACRL standards.

Student Responses to Pre- and Post- Tests A) indicates pre-test answers B) indicates post-test answers

  1. When using a library online catalog, what is the difference between a keyword search and a subject search?
    1. Students generally failed to understand the difference between keyword and subject searching.
    2. Responses on the post- test indicated an understanding of the distinction by over half of the students.


  2. You have been given the topic of racism on which to write a research paper. Because this is such a broad topic, how would you narrow it topic down?
    1. Responses to this question indicated many students were capable of narrowing a broad topic.
    2. Little change from the pre-test.


  3. If you find a citation to a book or article that this library does not own and you want it for your research, what would you do?
    1. Responses to this question indicated students generally were unaware of the options.
    2. Responses to this question indicated students had gained a better understanding of access options.


  4. You are doing a research project on abortion. You have been given several articles, books, and websites. What are some of the questions you would ask yourself in evaluating the information you were given? List as many questions as come to mind?
    1. Students had a very difficult time on the question that asked them to talk about how they would evaluate resources for a given topic. Their answers seemed to indicate what type of information they would look for rather than how they would evaluate the information.
    2. The post-test demonstrated an improved understanding but, clearly indicated there is still a great need for improvement.


  5. You are working in a group to study the homeless in your community. You have been asked to make recommendations to your City Council. Your task is to provide up-to-date information on the current state of homelessness in your community.
    • What type of information do you need to know?
      1. Students generally answered with a variety of appropriate responses.
      2. Students generally answered with a variety of appropriate responses often going more in-depth than on the pre-test.
    • How would you present the information to the City Council? Write as many ideas as come to mind.
      1. Students generally answered with a variety of appropriate responses.
      2. Students generally answered with a variety of appropriate responses, often going more in-depth than on the pre-test.


  6. You have just finished a final project for your class. You used a variety of information sources – books, music, interviews, websites, photographs, and email correspondence? Which of these sources will you include in your bibliography?
    1. Approximately half of the students answered correctly while several missed only one or two choices.
    2. Almost all of the students answered correctly.


  7. Do you think scholars, musicians, artists, writers, and others should have control over the use of their of their work including financial compensation, recognition, etc.? Why or Why not?
    1. Many of the students responded negatively to this question. Several indicated that a person should be flattered is someone wanted to use their work.
    2. Answers indicated an improved understanding. However, while the majority of students recognized the need to cite materials, many indicated a lack of understanding of the reasons for citing all sources, all the time.


Faculty and Peer Advisor Responses

  • On the pre- test, faculty generally answered the questions correctly. However, there was only one faculty member out of the five who answered the entire test correctly. Others exhibited need for enhanced learning. On the post-test, all answered correctly.
  • Peer Advisors answers either mirrored the student answers or were slightly better. On the post-test all answered correctly.

Mid-semester meeting
At the mid point in the semester a general meeting of the five instructors was convened in order to determine where the different teams were in their implementation of the research component of their seminars. Instructors were also asked to identify any additional help needed from the library or the project coordinator.

The general sense was that students were, as students will do, procrastinating; their lack of engagement was also seen as a major stumbling block. It was roundly acknowledged that, if nothing else, learning the eventual consequences of procrastination would be a valuable lesson for many students, and we could simply continue to try to keep the students on track throughout the semester.

Class presentations
The presentations of student research took a variety of forms. Some sections requested short, 5-minute oral reports on the students’ findings. Another section required students to stage a debate around their issue. Yet another built a website offering information on all of the various California environmental issues researched by the students. Interestingly, the group that had resisted the project most energetically complained in the end because they were not given sufficient time during which to present all of their work. All of the classes incorporated some written assignment in conjunction with the oral presentations, as well as a bibliography.

Exit interviews with FS students
The Library representative met with some of the classes to talk about their projects. Discussions were candid with a variety of responses ranging from the benefit of the project to the lack of need for the project. Students indicated a great appreciation for extra librarian contact time and stressed the importance of the transference of their newly acquired knowledge to other classes. Students also indicated a greater comfort level in using the library and approaching library staff. Criticisms included a need for the restructuring of the library drop-in workshops and more class time devoted to discussing the projects. Overall, most students felt the project was worthwhile, that it should remain a fundamental component of the class.

Exit Interviews with Instructional Teams
End of semester interviews were conducted with each of the Educational Mentoring Teams involved in the project. This included approximately an hour of one-on-one discussion with the team, the project coordinator and the library representative.