1. Introduction

In this introduction, you will learn what assessment and evaluation are and how they can support connected learning in the library.

After completing this section, you will be able to...

  • Describe what we mean by assessment and evaluation
  • Discuss the challenges and opportunities of assessing and evaluating connected learning
  • Articulate the goals of conducting an assessment and/or an evaluation

“You don’t need a lot of technical expertise to do this. You just need the discipline of thinking first about what the outcome is, what young people might say or do that would give you some indicator, and think hard about the situations that would elicit those things that a student might say or do.”

— Dr. William Penuel (University of Colorado at Boulder)1

Evaluation and assessment are important to all library activities, but it can be particularly challenging to assess and evaluate connected learning initiatives. In this module, you will learn how to assess the impacts of connected learning and evaluate connected learning initiatives. You will learn how to evaluate your library programs and initiatives: identifying desired outcomes, developing measures, creating an evaluation plan, collecting and analyzing data, and communicating the results to stakeholders. This introduction covers assessment and evaluation basics, including key terms and the particular challenges and opportunities posed by connected learning initiatives. In Section 2, you will learn how to conduct an assessment by determining what you need to measure, collecting the data, and analyzing it. In Section 3, you will learn how evaluations are used to answer questions, and how to put together a solid evaluation plan to serve as a roadmap for your evaluation project. Section 4 explores how you can use the results once you finish the evaluation process.

1: Developing Outcome Measures Tailored to a Program, 8:42.