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Spotlight: Kathleen Crea & Assessment in Action

Kathleen Crea is standing next to a conference poster regarding the UConn Health Assessment in Action project.

University of Connecticut Health Center
Kathleen Crea — Assessment in Action Project Team Leader – Cohort 1

In 2012, American Library Association and the Association of College and Research Libraries was awarded a National Leadership Demonstration Grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to develop and administer a program called “Assessment in Action: Academic Libraries and Student Success” (AiA). The purpose of this research initiative was to provide training to academic librarians on methods to pursue “action research” at their local campuses that demonstrate how effective library services – instruction, reference, collections, library space, and outreach – do contribute to “student success” as measured by academic achievement, graduation rates, career preparation, successful licensure, etc. Training for librarians was provided at ALA conferences. Each project was designed, executed and analyzed over a 14-month period. After completion, team leaders were asked to present their findings at a June ALA conference (2014, 2015 and 2016).

Assessment in Action research projects have been completed by teams working in 200 academic institutions worldwide, including those in forty-one states, the District of Columbia, four Canadian provinces and Australia.

University of Connecticut Health Center library was chosen to participate in Cohort 1, with reference librarian Kathleen Crea as project team leader, director Evelyn Morgen (now retired), Arta Dobbs and three clinical faculty and educational administrators. The UConn Health team created and delivered an electronic survey to all UConn medical students asking them to describe “in their own words” ways in which their information competencies improved as they moved through medical school, how their effective use of clinical resources evolved over four years, which source(s) they consider “must have” by third or fourth year, and what instructional sessions by librarians proved most useful to them for developing these evidence based medicine (EBM) skills. The instrument included a variety of question formats and scales, and space for open-ended responses encouraging individualized answers.

This collection of feedback provides an intriguing snapshot of how medical students “consume” library information resources over years, and provides evidence for faculty that this group benefits from a series of hands-on library instruction over years, especially targeted “just in time” sessions on evidence-based medicine resources, pharmacology or clinical mobile app training.

Ms. Crea presented a poster about the UConn Health AiA Library EBM survey at the April 2015 AAMC North Eastern Group on Educational Affairs conference held at University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA.  More recently, twenty Assessment in Action project team leaders from New England libraries were invited by ACRL and the Massachusetts Library System to present at the New England Assessment in Action Symposium, held Sept 13, 2016 in Worcester at Assumption College. Posters from this meeting can be viewed here:

  • ALA/ACRL Assessment in Action program is described in full at: A searchable archive of AiA projects from Cohorts 1, 2 and 3 including poster abstracts, images and full project descriptions can be viewed here: AiA online collection.
  • Librarian Eric Ackerman (Cohort 1) edited an AiA casebook published by ACRL in 2016, entitled “Putting Assessment into Action: Selected Projects from the First Cohort of the Assessment in Action Grant”. He invited 27 AiA team leaders to showcase their inquiry methods and results, divided by three sections: Assessing Information Literacy and Library Instruction; Assessing Outreach, Services and Spaces; Longitudinal Assessment. Crea wrote one of the chapters in this book.
  • Finally, the March 2016 issue of ACRL College and Research Libraries includes an informative article entitled “Assessment as Action Research: Bridging Academic Scholarship and Everyday Practice”, written by Kara Malenfant, Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe and Debra Gilchrist who were each key architects and faculty for all three cohorts of this grant. Link to the article here: (open access).

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