Assessment in Action Team Applications
NOTE: The deadline to apply to participate in the first group has passed; it was 5 p.m. Central, Friday, March 8. Applicants were notified of their status in early April. We will be updating this website in December 2013 with more details about how to apply for the second group. We expect the online application will be available in mid January 2014 and due in early March 2014. Learn more about AiA during an online open forum at 1pm Central on Monday, December 9, 2013. Invite others on campus who would be your potential team members to join you and participate in the forum together.
ACRL is seeking applications from all types of higher education institutions for 75 teams to participate in the first cohort of “Assessment in Action: Academic Libraries and Student Success (AiA),” made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and described on the program homepage. Librarians will each lead a campus team in developing and implementing an action learning project which examines the impact of the library on student success and contributes to assessment activities on campus. They will be supported in this work by a professional development program with sequenced learning events and activities at key junctures. The AiA program, part of ACRL’s Value of Academic Libraries initiative, employs a blended learning environment and a peer-to-peer network over the course of the 14-month long program, which runs from April 2013-June 2014.
In order to apply, each prospective institution must identify a team consisting of a librarian and at least two additional team members from other units (e.g., faculty member, student affairs representative, institutional researcher, or academic administrator). The application requires two essays – the first describes the team’s project goals and the second describes the goals of the librarian team leader – and statements of support from the library dean/director and campus chief academic officer.
Learn more about the AiA program at the ALA Midwinter Meeting during the session Update on ACRL's Value of Academic Libraries Initiative to be held Sunday, January 27, 2013, 1:00pm to 2:30pm.
About the Action Learning Projects
Expectations of Librarian Team Leaders
Expectations of Campus Team Members
Application Instructions and Deadline
An important component of the AiA program, part of ACRL’s Value of Academic Libraries initiative, is to establish a learning community in which all team members contribute to the success of the program through active engagement. Participation is limited to 75 teams to ensure an environment that fosters group interaction and active participation.
The institutional teams for AiA will be selected through a competitive application process designed to ensure representation from an array of geographic regions and postsecondary institutions (i.e., community colleges, colleges, and universities). Other criteria considered are demonstrated need, evidence of team readiness, and institutional support for a library-led assessment project. The review team consists of ACRL member leaders, grant partner organizations, and representatives of higher education organizations who serve on the grant advisory panel. AiA program design team members are excluded from the review process. All the applications will be reviewed at once after the application deadline.
Application reviewers will seek evidence that:
- The team and proposed project topic have the potential to contribute to the greater library and higher education community.
- The team and institution demonstrate the commitment of resources and support to enthusiastically sustain the project to completion.
- Librarian team leaders, as individuals, demonstrate potential for sustained growth as a campus leader and show evidence of positive skills and attitude to contribute to a collaborative learning experience.
The AiA program has three broad goals:
- GOAL 1: Develop the professional competencies of librarians to document and communicate the value of their academic libraries primarily in relation to their institution’s goals for student learning and success.
- GOAL 2: Build and strengthen collaborative relationships with higher education stakeholders around the issue of library value.
- GOAL 3: Contribute to higher education assessment work by creating approaches, strategies, and practices that document the contribution of academic libraries to the overall goals and missions of their institutions.
About the Action Learning Projects
All action learning projects should go beyond use and satisfaction and examine questions of impact and outcomes. For some teams the projects may be a first step in examining what impact the library may have on student learning and success. Work will represent an initial step or pilot project through which teams will learn more, move to action, and take a deeper look at a particular area of interest. Teams undertaking “seed” projects of this type will begin an effort that will result in a longer term commitment on campus in the future. For other teams, a previous assessment activity may have raised questions for further exploration. Therefore, some projects will move beyond describing what type of impact is occurring (or not occurring) and take a deeper look into how the library creates an impact on students. Not all projects will demonstrate that there is in fact a library impact, and key criteria for “success” will be different. Developing and implementing a project as part of the AiA program will engender learning, spur action, and build capacity for continued work in this area.
Action learning projects should be realistic, and applications should propose the best project for the team in the context of campus priorities and available resources. Ideally this project will fit into routine work and data gathering processes (if existing data from surveys, swipe cards, database logins, instruction sessions, etc. will not be used) will be part of the regular workflow of students. To increase the likelihood of successful completion, it is important that this is project be intrinsic to day-to-day work. It should not be burdensome to the team leader, library, or institution in order to maintain commitment to this type of work into the future. Finding a topic that truly piques interest and satisfies a need on campus will allow sustainability for the length of the AiA program.
Projects can consider any aspect of the library (e.g., collections, space, instruction, reference, etc.) but must ultimately be tied to student learning (e.g., course, program, degree) or success (e.g., retention, completion, persistence). The project organizers do not expect that all projects will yield generalizable results as one would expect of findings from social science research conducted from a positivist perspective. However, many projects will be replicable at other libraries or contain elements which will be transferable to other settings. Two ACRL resources may help stimulate thinking about potential project topics: Standards for Libraries in Higher Education (see principle 3, Educational Role) and Value of Academic Libraries: A Comprehensive Research Review and Report (see research agenda, beginning on p. 101).
Some potential action learning project topics that applicants may propose could include:
- What is the relationship between use of library-provided electronic journals and the rate/speed of degree completion for chemistry graduate students?
- Do students in selected presentation-intensive courses who practice in library presentation rooms have better learning outcomes, as measured by course grade?
- Our optional library instruction sessions are well-attended by those students who have some of the lowest GPAs on campus. Why is that? What could this suggest about better supporting these students?
- On our campus, transfer students taking a course with an assigned reference librarian consultant during their first semester have a much higher retention rate. What factors are contributing? What can we learn about continuing to help transfer students succeed?
- History majors at our college who use primary sources from our campus special collections during their junior year persist at a higher rate than those who use primary source materials from other archives and collections. To what extent is this attributed to qualities of faculty members who are more likely to partner with the library? To what extent can we claim an impact due to student use of materials and interactions with staff members in our library special collections?
- We have a grant program for faculty and librarians to collaborate on the redesign of courses that incorporate the research process as a central element. What is the impact of this program on student learning?
Expectations of Librarian Team Leaders
Being a librarian team leader in the AiA program will help develop professional skills by applying the program learning outcomes in the real-world context, building more effective campus collaborations in the process. Librarians who participate will improve their skills as effective leaders when they facilitate their campus team in completing an action learning project. Furthermore, librarian team leaders will dedicate themselves to engaging with each other as a learning community. Find out more about the AiA approach to developing a peer-to-peer collegial network and community of practice on the program homepage.
Participants should understand that being part of the AiA learning community is a continuous year-round commitment. During the middle phase of collecting and analyzing project data (February-April, 2014), an intensive effort is expected. At other points during the program, approximately 2-5 hours per week are anticpated. Librarians who participate in the program will both actively contribute to a community of practice by providing peer support to each other and lead their campus teams to facilitate the execution of an action learning project.
Librarian team leaders will participate in a 14-month long professional development program, with sequenced learning events and activities at key junctures. The AiA program includes team-based activities carried out on participant’s campuses. Librarian participants will submit a final project report at the conclusion of the program and prepare and deliver a poster describing their projects and their learning. Team leaders will engage in activities on campus such as:
- Creating a project timeline and goals, monitoring progress, and adjusting as needed.
- Facilitating the team’s work by drafting agendas and scheduling regular meetings with team members and allies.
- Securing funding, if any, for project activities (e.g. incentives for survey completion, printing of poster).
- Assumuing responsibility for ensuring application to institutional review board, if necessary.
- Enlisting others to provide specific skills/expertise if the team needs additional support to complete the project.
- Effectively communicating about the project, its goals and accomplishments to library leaders, the campus community, and possibly external stakeholders.
- Serving as the main point of contact for the institution to ACRL design team and staff for the duration of the program.
While the bulk of the support for the AiA learning community will take place virtually through an online asynchronous classroom and webcasts, librarian team leaders are expected to attend three in person events and must secure funding as the terms of the grant do not include travel. The three events are scheduled in conjunction with the ALA Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conferences as follows:
- Thursday, June 27, 2013, 1pm-5pm, and Friday, June 28, 2013, 8:30am-12:30pm: Chicago, IL. Cohort 1, first meeting.
- During January 24-28, 2014: Philadelphia, PA. Cohort 1, second meeting (full day, date TBD).
- June 26-July 1, 2014: Las Vegas, NV. Cohort 1, poster session (two slots to choose from, dates TBD).
By submitting an application, librarian team leaders agree to meet these expectations to the best of their ability if the application is accepted, or to identify a substitute as necessary.
Expectations of Campus Team Members
Being part of the AiA learning community is a continuous year-round commitment. The involvement of team members will vary depending on project role.
Each full institutional team will participate in five webcasts over the course of the year. The kick-off webcast from 1:00 – 2:30pm Central on Thursday, April 18, will be particularly useful for asking questions and seeking clarification about the AiA program. There will be one login per institution, and each selected team should plan to congregate and participate together.
All team members will engage in a peer review process, providing feedback about projects being developed by other participating teams. The projects will be documented and disseminated for use by the wider academic library and higher education communities
There is no registration fee for participating in the first cohort. For the first two years, the IMLS grant covers the majority of the costs for developing and delivering the AiA program. Librarian team leaders need to secure their own funding for travel to three in person events: June 2013 (full day meeting), January 2014 (full day meeting), and June 2014 (poster session). Other costs to develop and implement projects will be carried by the institution (e.g. incentives for survey completion, printing of poster, etc.). In the third year, the IMLS grant will subsidize only part of the costs and ACRL will implement a registration fee as the program transitions to a cost-recovery model.
Consulting with colleagues in the library, meeting with prospective team members across campus, securing commitment, scoping out an area of interest for the team’s project, writing the essays, arranging for travel funding, and requesting statements of support all takes time. Begin the application process early and prepare and submit materials as soon as possible. The application requires two essays – the first describes the team’s project goals and the second describes the goals of the librarian team leader – and statements of support from the library dean/director and campus chief academic officer. Each piece is described in detail, below.
Essay #1 on the team’s project goals may be up to 300 words long. The essay should explain the goals that the college/university has established for participating in the AiA program. Address questions such as: What aspects of student learning or student success are most important at the institution? What aspect of the library (e.g., collections, space, instruction, reference, etc.) are related to the project? What connections would be explored as the basis for the action learning project? How has the library been involved in past assessment efforts? Why is this the right time for the institution to take on a similar project? Why are the chosen team members the right mix of people given the team’s area of interest?
Essay #2 on the goals of the librarian team leader may be up to 300 words long. The essay should explain the team leader’s personal goals for professional growth related to assessing the library’s impact on student learning and success and how attending this program will improve the team leader’s ability to fully engage in campus-wide and library assessment conversations and endeavors. Also, please explain the skills and attitude the team leader will bring to the collaborative learning community and to the role as team leader.
Statement of Support #1 from the library dean or director may be up to 500 words long and should address the commitment of the library to assessment, the dean or director’s role in that process, and indicate how the institution will support the team’s project over the course of the AiA program. The statement does not need to uploaded or faxed on formal letter head. Simply copy and paste the final text of the statement provided by the dean/director into the online application form.
Statement of Support #2: from the campus chief academic officer (i.e., provost or vice president for academic affairs) may be up to 500 words and should address how the team’s project goals are connected to institutional priorities. The statement does not need to uploaded or faxed on formal letter head. Simply copy and paste the final text of the statement provided by the chief academic officer into the online application form.
Application Instructions and Deadline
- Each application must identify a librarian team leader who will receive notification of the team's acceptance or rejection. If the team's application is accepted, the librarian team leader will serve as the main point of contact for the ACRL design team and staff for the duration of the program.
- Once the online application process has begun, statements can be revised as many times as needed until they are complete and ready to submit. No deadline exceptions will be granted.
- Have the following information prepared before beginning the online application form:
- Names, titles, affiliations (i.e. department, office, or school), and contact information for all team members.
- Two essays.
- Two statements of support.
- The online application form is no longer active as the deadline to apply online to participate in the first cohort has passed; it was 5 p.m. Central, Friday, March 8.. Incomplete applications can be saved and edited or additional information can be added before the submission deadline date. An ID number and password will be assigned when the proposal is submitted. Be sure to print the ID number and password and keep them in a safe place; these will be needed in order to edit the proposal at a future time.
- Please note that this is a team application process and acceptance into the program is based, in part, on who is identified as members of the team.
Friday, March 8, 2013, 5 p.m. Central.
The librarian team leader listed on the application will be ACRL’s primary contact. All applicants will be notified of their status via e-mail by 5 pm Central on Friday, April 5, 2013.
See the application frequently asked questions for more details about applying.
Questions may be directed to ACRL Senior Strategist for Special Initiatives Kara Malenfant at email@example.com or 312-280-2510.