Classroom instruction is one important way that librarians engage with DePaul students, as we collaborate with faculty to teach how to find and evaluate information pursued both for course-related research and lifelong learning. This past academic year, the library participated in a university-wide process to revise and update our instruction learning outcomes. We recognize that learning outcomes are a vital part of any academic program as they support an ongoing commitment to assessment and improvement, and help map to institutional learning goals that strengthen the connection to overall student learning at DePaul.
The year-long process of reflection and revision started by documenting what we were already doing. We collected course-level learning outcomes from librarians currently teaching classes with students and faculty, and where there had been established curricula and expectations. After assembling all of those individual goals, we mapped them out and identified broader themes, both old and new, that emerged from the more granular objectives. We then looked to standards from national organizations like the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, the Society of American Archivists’ Guidelines for Primary Source Literacy, as well as various other organizations’ sample outcomes for Digital Literacy, all to help inform our discussions.
This process, allowing us the time to undertake a thorough review of our current practices, as well as look to our professional organizations for guidance and insight, resulted in a more meaningful list of five learning outcomes. The new outcomes, with examples, are as follows.
Students engaging with University Library services, workshops and events will be able to:
- Explain the socio-political landscape of information, including who creates it, who controls it and where to find it.
Examples: Identifying the unique ways libraries and repositories organize, preserve and provide access to information;
Describing students’ responsibilities as consumers and creators of digital content.
- Articulate the value of information inquiry.
Examples: Developing an appropriately scoped inquiry;
Recognizing that research is an iterative process.
- Develop effective search strategies for finding information. Some examples of this outcome include:
Examples: Identifying key tools and research methods for information gathering within a discipline;
Applying different types of searching language appropriately (keywords, controlled vocabulary, Boolean).
- Evaluate the appropriateness of information sources based on their format, structure, and purpose.
Examples: Evaluating reliability, validity, accuracy, timeliness, and point of view;
Differentiating between popular, scholarly, and trade publications;
Distinguishing between primary and secondary sources.
- Compile information ethically, following the standards of a scholarly discipline.
Examples: Creating a narrative from multiple sources;
Explaining the importance of using information, including data, ethically and legally;
Understanding that all information is building on previous information and that students contribute to that cycle.
Now that our learning outcomes more accurately reflect our goals for student learning, we are embarking on a ten year assessment cycle. Over the next ten years, we will assess each of our learning outcomes, ensuring that we are meeting expectations and helping to prepare students for critical learning at DePaul and beyond.