So, assessment is like this really big deal in, well pretty much everything these days. And library sessions are certainly not exempt. And, I'll come clean and admit that I'm not a huge fan of doing assessment or talking about assessment or talking AND thinking about assessment, etc. etc.. In fact, one time in a meeting when they were looking for volunteers for the "assessment committee" I quickly donned my invisibility cloak and quietly left the room undetected. HOWEVER, I do want to know what works and what doesn't. I think I would be a bad negligent instruction librarian if I didn't.
So, to this end, I started using Google Docs. I've used them for my own personal projects for a while, but when I started hearing rumors of my colleagues using them in the classroom I was intrigued. Some are having students fill out questionnaires, some use them only to assess the library session, and some use them for group projects. There seems to be a nice array in our library at the moment. And, WHY would one use a Google doc? Google Docs are great because as long as everyone has access to the web and a computer, multiple users can all work on the same document at the same time and everyone can watch those changes almost instantly.
When my wheels got turning, I decided I wanted to create a spreadsheet that students would have to fill out as I was going through different sections of the instruction session. What I found was a great way to watch the students work and process the information I was dishing IN REAL TIME. Since most of us only get that one-shot, watching the students work and process in the moment, is ridiculously helpful. This allowed me to not only see their thinking, but also to correct or make suggestions in the moment, as well.*
The Google docs I created are for an upper level Writing About Art class. I have 75 minutes with the students in which to explain pretty much EVERYTHING about the library. In 75 minutes they need to understand; reference, using the catalog, LC call numbers and how to find books on the shelf, how to find articles and use databases, ordering books through our consortium, Interlibrary Loan, and where to find information about citing. Of course, that would be very difficult to do in 75 minutes, especially for some students that are using the library for the first time. Just the same, having them actually perform many of the tasks right after I've demonstrated each one, really seems to get them on the right track. I also give out candy for correct responses. What?
So, here is the spreadsheet that the students filled out from the first session. I had about 25 more minutes with this first class than with the second. It seems to show. (The first row of responses with Henry Ossawa Tanner is actually an example I added for the students to model):
When I did the second session, I had a lot less time, but I felt it was more crucial to emphasize searching and the databases. Since we had less time, I skipped a few sections. Here is the spreadsheet from that session:
For a first try, I think it went really well. I was able to politely make suggestions when students got off track and encourage good examples when students seemed to get it. Of course there wasn't time to get to everyone, AND still move through the broad subject matter that the class required, but as I made suggestions for one student, another student would sometimes make adjustments to their response. And, for those that didn't quite get it, I have each student's contact information and may go back and make individual suggestions based on what I see in the Google doc.
So, that's it! I would love to hear what you think about what I did, or how you're using Google Docs in some unique way. Send me your feedback!
*I should clarify that I not only mean assessment of how students are processing the information, but that I also included a more traditional sort of assessment at the end of the spreadsheet for the students to respond to how the library session went, as well.