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University of Idaho Contributes to National Study of Academic Libraries


The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has released a new report, Library Contributions to Student Success: Documented Practices from the Field, which includes data from the University of Idaho. The report synthesizes results from a nationwide study of academic libraries and their value to students' academic success and learning outcomes.

The University of Idaho was one of more than 70 higher education institutions from across North America selected for the first cohort of the team-based assessment project, Assessment in Action: Academic Libraries and Student Success (AiA), during the 2013-14 academic year. Data gathered through the study demonstrates that the University of Idaho Library is successfully connecting indicators of academic success - such as student retention and engagement - with aspects of the library's services - such as library instruction and reference.

Librarian Diane Prorak, UI Library instruction program coordinator, led the campus AiA team, which included Rodney Frey, director of the UI General Education program; Cori Planagan, coordinator of the Student Orientation Office; and Diane Kelly-Riley, director of Composition. The team rated essays and bibliographies before and after library instruction in three groups of first-year courses. Findings showed that library instruction contributed significantly to improvements in student essay and bibliography. Students also reported an 80 percent increase in confidence about using the library for their research after library instruction.

"The AiA project has significantly increased the library's role in assessment of General Education and helps establish the library as an integral part of the campus culture of assessment of student learning outcomes," said Prorak.

AiA is a three-year project sponsored by the ACRL in partnership with the Association of Institutional Research and the Association of Public Land-grant Universities, and with funding from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services. When the project concludes in 2016, over 200 higher education institutions will have participated in developing assessment methods and tools.

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