Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Evidence-Based Practice in the CCHS Library

I recently had an intense discussion with a colleague about evidence-based practice. It got me thinking.

Dr. Ross Todd (director of Rutgers University’s Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries) says "you will know that you have achieved evidence-based practice when you are able to provide convincing evidence that answers these questions:
  • What differences do my school library and its learning initiatives make to student learning outcomes?
  • What are the differences, the tangible learning outcomes and learning benefits, of my school library?"
How do I achieve this? Using Todd's guidelines I conducted a quick self-survey:
  • Lesson plans tied to state standards and outcomes - OK, got that
  • Benchmarks - how do I create ways to assess whether or not students are hitting benchmarks? Do I have a firm handle on what my benchmarks should be? Hmm.
  • Accountability - collaboration, examination of progress and practice - am working hard on this
  • Documentation / multiple data points - circulation stats, patron stats, collection development stats, lesson database, comprehensive end-of-year report - got this
Where I trip up is in developing effective student assessments that can be conducted without adding paper or requiring anything from the class teacher. In a perfect world I would be collaborating on final assessments, but we aren't there yet. I am toying with trying out for quick, dip stick style assessments after a class completes a session in the library. I saw Hall Davidson, Director of Discovery Education Network, demonstrate this at the most recent MassCue Conference. This is a free web-app that allows you to create a poll and have respondents participate with their cell phones. I believe students would get a bang out of this, but will this yield the type of data I need?

The Evidence-Based Manifesto for School Librarians
Ross Todd, School Library Journal, 4/1/2008

What is Evidence-Based Practice?
Ohio Education Library Media Association, 7/7/2006

A True Assessment of Your Program's Value
David Loertscher, Blanche Woolls - Learning Quarterly, 6/2/2003

photo credit Flickr Creative Commons: Data transfer by Mary_Grace

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