Cynthia Kane joined the Advisory Board of the Threshold Achievement Test for Information Literacy in 2017. Here she answers questions about her work and her passion for assessment.
Question: Please tell us about your current job.
Cynthia: I am currently the Director of Assessment at the Emporia State University Libraries and Archives. I oversee all aspects of assessment initiatives in our program, including information literacy assessments. I also represent the Libraries and Archives on two university-wide committees: the Student Learning Assessment Council and the Higher Learning Commission Leadership Team. I really enjoy these last two opportunities because it’s given me a wider audience to highlight the impact of the academic library in student learning and success throughout their undergraduate and graduate careers.
Q: Do you teach? How has your approach to teaching changed since you started?
Cynthia: I have taught library instruction sessions in undergraduate and graduate courses for over 25 years. In addition, I served for years as an adjunct faculty member for ESU’s School of Library and Information Management. I presently coordinate the scheduling and teach sections of UL100, Research Skills, Information and Technology. This course counts for the “Information Technology” General Education requirement at ESU. My approach to teaching hasn’t really changed over the years – mainly, just being aware that technology tools will change, but the need to know how to find and use information effectively will never change!
Q: How has your library approached the Framework?
Cynthia: We’re working through that right now! Our UL100 course will be 3 credit hours in Fall 2018 and we are reworking our course curriculum not only to accommodate the extra credit hour, but also to incorporate aspects of the IL Framework. It’s a work in progress. Stay tuned.
Q: What types of information literacy assessment have you done?
Cynthia: In 2012, we started using standardized assessments in UL100 as pre-tests and post-tests. We began with iSkills from ETS and used that for one academic year. We liked the scenario-based approach in iSkills, but we also found that it wasn’t really measuring the student learning outcomes we were teaching in UL100. We changed to Project SAILS in Fall 2013 and used that through Spring 2017. Also in Spring 2017, we helped test the “Strategic Searching” module of TATIL in two UL100 sections. We liked the critical thinking and problem solving that TATIL items provide, and as of Fall 2017 we utilize “Strategic Searching” and “Evaluating Process and Authority” as pre-tests and post-tests in all our UL100 sections.
Q: If you have used SAILS, can you tell us one or two actions that you or others at your institution have taken as a result?
Cynthia: We found in pre-test and post-test comparisons that many students still struggled with copyright and intellectual property concepts. As a result, we are seeking more creative ways to teach these issues and make them more relevant to students’ real lives.
Q: If you have used TATIL, can you tell us one or two actions that you or others at your institution have taken as a result?
Cynthia: Right now, we are still in the analysis stage. I believe we will have more to report in terms of actions after we have one year’s worth of data to review.
Q: What role do non-library, classroom faculty at your institution have in promoting information literacy of students?
Cynthia: With the Information Technology goal in ESU’s General Education curriculum, there are some opportunities for non-library faculty to teach concepts of information literacy in classes other than the library’s UL100 course. However, ESU presently does not have a campus-wide definition of “information literacy” or “information technology”. We hope that using and promoting standardized assessments such as TATIL will help raise university awareness of preparing information-literate students for the workplace.
Q: Please tell us about a recent professional development activity that you participated in, that you found to be valuable. What was it and how was it valuable to you?
Cynthia: I co-presented at the ALA Midwinter Meeting on the topic of library discovery services and holdings management. I enjoyed this opportunity because we focused upon the user’s perspective of library holdings and some problematic aspects of a discovery service. Information literacy is key here in being able to sort through many results and focus upon a specific need.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add about your professional life?
Cynthia: Even at this stage, I am always seeking new and better ways to teach. I often still rely upon the “Sage on a Stage” approach and I continually work on ideas for active learning in the classroom!
Q: Why did you join the TATIL Advisory Board?
Cynthia: I am very interested in not only how we as librarians can evaluate the progress of students’ information literacy skills, but also why we are doing so. At ESU, we really like the fact that the TATIL modules are using the concepts of knowledge practices and dispositions from the ACRL Framework. I want to provide feedback to the TATIL Advisory Board about my real-life experiences with the modules and any positive changes in our students’ learning outcomes as a result of these assessments.
Thank you, Cynthia!