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Assessment Projects


Articulate the Value of Information Inquiry

The Library’s FY23 Assessment Report examines the Learning Outcome: Students attending DePaul University Library instruction sessions, workshops, and engaging with its services will be able to articulate the value of information inquiry. This year, we chose to evaluate a segment of our student employees who work at our research help desks, our Peer Research Tutors. Each was asked to write a reflection answering three prompts about how they help other students navigate the research process. These responses were evaluated for how strongly the answers showed an understanding of the value of information inquiry. Six of eight Peer Research Tutors were able to successfully articulate answers for at least two of the three questions, meeting expectations for achieving the learning outcome.


Assessing Diversity in the Collection

For the FY22 Assessment Project, we assessed whether or not the DePaul University Library had purchased a selection of award-winning book titles that reflect diverse voices and/or content. By providing these selections to the DePaul community, students can see their experiences and identities in the material that they consume, and can better engage in the learning process. Ensuring that diverse authorship is present in the collection will also work toward centering voices in scholarship that have been traditionally “othered.”


Is it Useful?  Assessing First-Year Writing Students’ Ability to Evaluate a Source in an Embedded Course

This learning assessment project explored whether students enrolled in online Writing, Rhetoric & Discourse (WRD) 104 courses could evaluate an article’s usefulness based on a provided set of criteria. This assessment project will allow the Library to better align its WRD 104 online and WRD 104 in-person programs by incorporating an evaluation section in the WRD 104 online program. Investigators collected data by creating an additional question that was included in an existing library assignment that students were required to complete as part of their WRD 104 coursework online. The investigators learned that the majority of students were able to successfully evaluate the usefulness of an article related to structure and format, although students were more successful with certain criteria than with others. A task force will be assembled in Summer 2021 to formally update the curriculum and add the evaluation component for Fall Quarter 2021.


Best Practices for Textbook Affordability and OER Initiatives

This benchmarking assessment examined best practices for developing and sustaining successful Open Educational Resources (OER) and/or textbook affordability initiatives  support students and faculty in reducing textbook costs on our campus. Data was collected from 26 institutions through document analysis, survey and interviews. We determined DePaul is unique in its inclusion of textbook affordability in its strategic plan, but lags behind in faculty incentives and library support staffing. Key partnerships include faculty advocates, university administration, the bookstore and centers for teaching, learning and accessibility. While support for OER varies widely between public and private institutions, most institutions have a librarian or library staff member with all or a portion of their job description dedicated to OER.


History Majors and Archival Collections: Understanding Context

This project examined how students navigate the information landscape of repositories that collect and make accessible rare and unique materials required for primary source research. Investigators created two surveys to measure what History 299 students learned during from the instruction session in Special Collections and Archives and to determine if students were able to apply that information to their own research. Investigators learned that students who visit repositories in person, use archival finding aids, and engage with librarians and archivists are better able to explain the socio-political information landscape as defined for this project. However, the findings revealed that only a small number of students chose these methods. Most students found primary sources online and many struggled to understand the context of those sources.

What Students Learn (or don't) During the First-Year Composition Library Research Session
In 2015-16, the Library significantly revised our first-year programmatic curriculum in the WRD 104 / HON 100 classroom. This assessment project investigated whether the Library's course-level learning outcomes were being met with the revised curriculum, and identified areas for improvement. During Winter and Spring Quarters 2018, we administered a four-question student feedback survey, and analyzed 700 responses. Our results showed that students reported learning aligned with the learning outcomes.


Digital Scholarship Needs Assessment Survey
In partnership with Studio CHI, the Library conducted a digital scholarship needs assessment survey of DePaul University faculty. This report summarizes the findings of the survey and describes the main themes that emerged from it.

Chat Transcript Analysis Project
In 2017, the Reference, Instruction and Academic Engagement (RIAE) Department embarked on an analysis of our Research Help chat transcripts. Using two different samples from the transcripts (spanning the years 2011-2017), questions were coded for content as well as level of complexity. Through our research, we found that users tend to ask complex, substantial reference questions when using our chat service. This report represents our findings as well as possibilities for future investigation.


Strategic Thinking for Research in First Year Writing Students
In collaboration with the department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse (WRD), the Library provides research instruction to students in the First-Year Writing Program. This assessment project investigated whether our teaching materials effectively target the strategic thinking skills these students need at the beginning stages of their research. During Winter Quarter 2017, we collected 136 student worksheets and analyzed them using an original rubric. Our results found that 71% of students achieved a score of acceptable or better, and that we are successfully helping students with their strategic thinking.

DePaul Transfer Students and the Library: A Report of Our Findings
The Library's Instruction Working group conducted this year-long mixed methods study to better understand DePaul's transfer students' past and current experiences with libraries and research. We gathered information from campus partners, surveyed community college librarians from our top feeder schools, and conducted focus groups with current DePaul transfer students. Based on our findings, we developed a multi-step plan to work towards ensuring that all DePaul students, both native and transfer, graduate with comparable levels of information competency.


Search and Explore in the School for New Learning (School of Continuing and Professional Studies) Online Instruction
Since 2008, the Library has provided research instruction for both online and in-person sections of the required School for New Learning's LL 300 (Research Seminar) course. We investigated whether the library met the learning outcomes in the online sections of this course. We specifically hoped to discover if the changes made to the library's course curriculum in Fall 2013 improved students' research skills. We analyzed students’ bibliographies from their final projects over six quarters, from Spring 2013 through Summer 2014. We developed a rubric with four criteria for evaluating the bibliographies and compared student work before and after the changes to see if there were improvements in the students’ scholarship.

Library Snapshot Day
On Library Snapshot Day, we set out to learn what happens in a typical day at the DePaul University Library. On March 8th, 2016, we asked our library users to share their stories with us. We wanted to understand the library’s impact on their studies and their favorite spaces and services.


Do You See What I See? Document Analysis Using Special Collections Sources.
DePaul Special Collections and Archives measured the impact of instruction on primary source literacy by partnering with History faculty teaching the 298 and 299 sequence to assess students document analysis skills. We conducted a pre- and post-test survey and found that every student who had prior SPCA instruction scored a two-test average of 75% or higher.


Flexibility and Persistence of First Year Students
The Library and the University Center for Writing‐based Learning, Academic Advising, New Student and Family Engagement and the Center for Students with Disabilities designed an assignment and lesson plan for Chicago Quarter Peer Student Leaders to deliver and grade as part of the Discover/ Explore Chicago curriculum. In addition to introducing students to the physical library and its resources, we hoped this assignment would cultivate certain habits of mind which contribute to student engagement and success, such as curiosity, flexibility, engagement, and a willingness to seek expertise when needed. We found that 78% of students demonstrated via their response to reflection questions that they can be flexible and persistent in developing successful strategies for using a range of resources to gather data and information and document what they have found.

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