2. Assessment

In this section, you will learn what an assessment is and the basic steps to conduct an assessment at your library.

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

  • Determine an assessment question
  • Decide what to measure that will answer your question
  • Choose and implement a data collection method
  • Analyze the data you collect
  • Use the data to construct evidence that will help you answer your assessment question

“We’ve had a wall where customers can put up Post-It notes on certain topics, like, ‘What was your favorite book? What do you love about the library?’ So it’s kind of like an informal kind of subjective opinion gathering rather than a formal assessment.”

— Programming Coordinator & Technology Coordinator in a southern suburban library

An assessment is a way to answer a single question at one point in time. Assessment can be a quick and easy process if you have a simple question, or it can be more extensive if you need to assess something large or complicated. Multiple assessments can be conducted to answer questions that involve comparisons, such as before-and-after questions, or to provide multiple perspectives. Assessments focus on the state or extent of something, such as what or how much individuals are learning, without digging deeper into value-based judgments like are participants learning enough? or how can we make this partnership more productive?1


What did participants learn from the robotics program?

How much are participants collaborating?

How are teens helping each other while completing their projects?

1: Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments by Marilyn Fenichel and Heidi A. Schweingruber, p. 111. National Academies Press, 2010.