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National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

NILOA Guest Viewpoints

We’ve invited learning outcomes experts and thought leaders to craft a Viewpoint. We hope that these pieces will spark further conversations and actions that help advance the field. To join the conversation, click the link below the Viewpoint. You can also sign up here to receive monthly newsletters that headline these pieces along with NILOA updates, current news items, and upcoming conferences.


Collaborating for Individual and Institutional Success: Libraries as Strategic Campus Partners
Jennifer Duncan, Kacy Lundstrom, Becky Thoms
Utah State University Libraries


Librarians often struggle to successfully communicate their valuable contributions to teaching and learning to the larger university community. When we saw the call for proposals for the Association of American Colleges & Universities 2017 Annual Meeting, we recognized an opportunity to promote Utah State University (USU) Libraries’ work to align itself with our university goals and initiatives so that colleagues at other institutions might identify collaborative opportunities with their own libraries. USU is a mid-size land-grant institution with a full-time undergraduate enrollment of approximately 25,000 and about 3,200 graduates. Its mission centers around the core themes of learning, discovery, and engagement, and we in the Libraries are involved in many successful collaborations across campus to advance specific objectives derived from these themes. These partnerships arise from the Library’s role in supporting research across its lifecycle in innovative ways that directly align with the initiatives and needs of the larger campus.

Libraries are proven to be adaptable and capable of providing solutions, creatively supporting curriculum, and responding to diverse institutional needs. However, knowing what these needs are and how to articulate what libraries offer is difficult, especially if librarians are not embedded within communication and governance structures where high-level conversations about the university curriculum regularly occur. In order to contribute and respond to initiatives at USU, librarians serve on various university committees, including Faculty Senate, the General Education Committee, the Education Policy Committee, the Research and Graduate Councils, and the Common Literature Committee, among many others. Through our affiliations with these groups, librarians contribute to conversations about general education, digital literacy, active learning, and accessibility to information resources. USU librarians are leading the way on our campus through:

Course integrated information literacy
USU does not currently provide for-credit information literacy courses, nor is there an institutional learning outcome for information literacy. Rather, we integrate with courses that emphasize research skills, and librarians support research assignments in both general education and program level courses using a combination of face-to-face interactions and online learning materials. We collaborate particularly closely with our second-year writing composition classes, English 2010. Subject librarians for each major are proactive in mapping how and where students receive research opportunities, so that we can be sure we are targeting courses in strategic ways.

Librarian-led collaborative assignment design faculty workshops
In addition to collaborating with faculty to provide library instruction sessions, the library facilitates interdisciplinary faculty workshops that provide an opportunity for faculty from the library and academic disciplines to improve the learning opportunities provided to students in their research assignments. These small-group workshops place librarians at the assignment design table and position the library as a forum for faculty collaboration and a partner in teaching excellence.

In-depth integration of unique materials into courses
Our unique collections provide opportunities for research using primary source materials. Special Collections hosts semester long courses in which students work with librarians and teaching faculty to curate gallery exhibitions related to a variety of topics. Curation comprises research, interpretation, graphic design, and promotion and results in a significant capstone event for students involved in this work. These collaborative physical exhibits broaden the perspectives of creators and audience by expanding the traditional definitions of research products.

Library support for digital pedagogy
Experiences with collaborative physical exhibits inspired an effort to reach out to faculty with another active learning opportunity—student-created digital exhibits using the open source Omeka platform. The library already uses Omeka to create exhibits highlighting portions of digital collections, but we recognize this tool has great potential for students to develop digital literacy skills such as writing for the web, creating metadata, and producing content for a global audience. Faculty from a wide range of disciplines, including History, Art, and Engineering, partner with us on these efforts, creating unique and meaningful research experiences for students.

Partnerships to promote student research
The USU Libraries have a close relationship with the Research & Graduate Studies Office that includes co-hosting the annual Research Week on campus. During Research Week, undergraduate and graduate students participate in Student Research Symposium poster and panel sessions in the library atrium and conference rooms. Librarians participate in the assessment of student work as well as promoting our institutional repository as a long-term home for the digital iteration of their output. This collaboration helps students begin to develop their own digital presence.

Partnerships to promote online learning
Like many institutions, USU offers diverse delivery methods for course content. Librarians work to ensure students receive equal access to research assistance and resources regardless of their location. Working with the Center for Innovative Design and Instruction, we design and deliver a range of digital learning objects that teach information literacy concepts and skills.


We have conducted multiple and varied assessments of how these efforts contribute to student learning and success (Holliday et al., 2014; Lundstrom et al., 2015; Lundstrom, Martin, & Cochran, 2014). The library instruction program is currently conducting a follow-up assessment study which looks at how the changes we made after our previous large-scale rubric study have had an impact in our second-year writing composition courses. This smaller scale assessment will provide information as to whether or not these changed practices are increasing students’ abilities to synthesize and use information effectively.

The library is also assessing the impact of the assignment design workshops by collecting feedback via an online survey at the end of each workshop, by interviewing participants on their experience in implementing their redesigned assignments, and by assessing student work produced as a result of these assignments.

The assessment of the student exhibit experiences, both physical and digital, is an on-going process. Within the context of particular courses, we survey students both throughout the course of the semester and at the conclusion. The mid-semester report allows us to gauge where students might be struggling, giving us an opportunity to make adjustments that could improve the outcomes of the course and the students’ experience. We also conduct debriefing sessions with faculty at the end of the semester to get feedback about the process and discuss the relationship between the exhibit projects and meeting the course goals and objectives. All of this data helps us evaluate our efforts in terms of effectiveness for both students and faculty as well as contributing to continual library discussions about our role in student learning and engagement in a timely manner.

Librarianship is a changing field and we urge you to look at the innovative work members of our profession are undertaking to make significant contributions on our campuses to improve teaching and learning across all disciplines. Increasingly, librarians are developing programs and offering services that speak directly to assignment design, curriculum scaffolding, undergraduate research opportunities, and authentic assessment. Offer your campus librarians a seat at the table, and you will find new and valuable partners in your efforts to improve outcomes and experiences for students and faculty.


Holliday, W., Martin, P., Fagerheim, B., Lundstrom, K., Dance, B., Davis, E., & Hedrich, A., (2014). An information literacy snapshot: Authentic assessment across the curriculum. College & Research Libraries, 76(2): 170-187.

Lundstrom, K., Diekema, A., Leary, H., Haderlie, S., & Holliday, W. (2015). Teaching and learning information synthesis. Communications in Information Literacy, 9(1): 60-82.

Lundstrom, K., Martin, P., & Cochran, D. (2016). Making strategic decisions: Conducting and using research on the impact of sequenced library instruction. College & Research Libraries, 77(2): 212-226.




Check out our past Viewpoints:

Rethinking the Role of Work in Higher Education
David W. Marshall

Demand interoperability to dramatically improve the educational ecosystem
Jeff Grann

The Comprehensive Student Record at Dillard University
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NILOA Remembers Assessment Pioneer Sister Joel Read of Alverno College
Peter Ewell, Pat Hutchings, & Russ Edgerton

The Neuroscience of Learning and Development: How can Evidence Legitimize Self-Reflection?
Marilee Bresciani Ludvik

Taking Stock of the Assessment Movement – Liberal Education, Winter, 2017
Peter Ewell, Pat Hutchings, Jillian Kinzie, George Kuh & Paul Lingenfelter

Eight Years On: Early—and Continuing—Lessons from the Tuning Project
Daniel J. McInerney

Real-time Student Assessment: Prioritizing Enrolled Students’ Equitable Progress toward Achieving a High-Quality Degree
Peggy Maki

Academic and Student Affairs Sides of the House: Can We Have an Open Concept Learning Design?
Darby Roberts

Just Assessment. Nothing More. Nothing Less.
Wayne Jacobson

Design for a Transparent and Engaging Assessment Website
Frederick Burrack and Chris Urban

Improvement Matters
Peter Felten

Working Together to Define and Measure Learning in the Disciplines
Amanda Cook, Richard Arum, and Josipa Roksa

The Simplicity of Cycles
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Helping Faculty Use Assessment Data to Provide More Equitable Learning Experiences
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Ignorance is Not Bliss: Implementation Fidelity and Learning Improvement
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Student Learning Outcomes Alignment through Academic and Student Affairs Partnerships
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The Transformation of Higher Education in America: Understanding the Changing Landscape
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Learning-Oriented Assessment in Practice
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Moving Beyond Anarchy to Build a New Field
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The Tools of Intentional Colleges and Universities: The DQP, ELOs, and Tuning
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Addressing Assessment Fatigue by Keeping the Focus on Learning
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Evidence of Student Learning: What Counts and What Matters for Improvement
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Using Evidence to Make a Difference
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Assessment - More than Numbers
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Challenges and Opportunities in Assessing the Capstone Experience in Australia
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Making Assessment Count
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Some Thoughts on Assessing Intercultural Competence
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Catalyst for Learning: ePortfolio-Based Outcomes Assessment
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The Interstate Passport: A New Framework for Transfer
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College Ratings: What Lessons Can We Learn from Other Sectors?
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Guidelines to Consider in Being Strategic about Assessment
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An "Uncommon" View of the Common Core
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Involving Undergraduates in Assessment: Documenting Student Engagement in Flipped Classrooms
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The Surprisingly Useful Practice of Meta-Assessment
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Student Invovlement in Assessment: A 3-Way Win
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Embedded Assessment and Evidence-Based Curriculum Mapping: The Promise of Learning Analytics
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The DQP and the Creation of the Transformative Education Program at St. Augustine University
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Why Student Learning Outcomes Assessment is Key to the Future of MOOCs

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Measuring Success in Internationalization: What are Students Learning?
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Demonstrating How Career Services Contribute to Student Learning
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The Culture Change Imperative for Learning Assessment
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Comments on the Commentaries about "Seven Red Herrings"
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Ethics and Assessment: When the Test is Life Itself
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Discussing the Data, Making Meaning of the Results
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Faculty Concerns About Student Learning Outcomes Assessment
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What to Consider When Selecting an Assessment Management System
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AAHE Principles of Good Practice: Aging Nicely A Letter from Pat Hutchings, Peter Ewell, and Trudy Banta

The State of Assessment of Learning Outcomes Eduardo M. Ochoa

What is Satisfactory Performance? Measuring Students and Measuring Programs with Rubrics
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Being Confident about Results from Rubrics Thomas P. Judd, Charles Secolsky & Clayton Allen

What Assessment Personnel Need to Know About IRBs
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How Assessment and Institutional Research Staff Can Help Faculty with Student Learning Outcomes Assessment
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Why Assess Student Learning? What the Measuring Stick Series Revealed
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Putting Myself to the Test
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From Uniformity to Personalization: How to Get the Most Out of Assessment
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Transparency Drives Learning at Rio Salado College
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Navigating a Perfect Storm
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It is Time to Make our Academic Standards Clear
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In Search for Standard of Quality
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Avoiding a Tragedy of the Commons in Postsecondary Education
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