Assessment & Accreditation
The Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) is proud to be accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) -- the gold standard for library and information science (LIS) education in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. For prospective, current and graduated GSLIS students, this accreditation is important because an ALA-accredited master's degree is essential to obtain most professional positions in the LIS field, and is required by many states for public and school librarians. For students as educational consumers, they can also be confident that GSLIS has met the ALA Accreditation Standards, and that "accreditation serves as a mechanism for quality assessment and quality enhancement with quality defined as the effective utilization of resources to achieve appropriate educational objectives and student learning outcomes.(1)
These standards have been established "to foster excellence through the development of criteria for evaluating educational effectiveness. Throughout the Standards, the requirements for evaluation include assessments, not only of educational processes and resources, but also of the successful use of those processes and resources to achieve established objectives expressed as student learning outcomes. Further, institutions seeking accreditation of master's degree programs in library and information studies have an obligation to use the results of their evaluations for broad-based, continuous program planning, assessment, development, and improvement." (2) Accordingly, Simmons GSLIS maintains an ongoing and continually evolving commitment to assessment.
Our assessment efforts prior to our most recent (2010) accreditation are described in more detail in Chapter 1: Mission, Goals, & Objectives of the 2010 Program Presentation. (Please see the chapter and supporting evidence at http://gslis.simmons.edu/coa/chapter1.html.) As noted in that chapter, following the enactment of a new Simmons College mission statement, GSLIS faculty approved a new school mission statement in 2008. With a new mission statement as the foundation, the faculty began its reexamination of the 10 student learning outcomes then in place. A subcommittee was formed in Fall 2009 to develop and present a new set of student learning outcomes, which are an expression of the program objectives and which are consistent and aligned with the values of Simmons College. In December 2009, the faculty voted to accept three new student learning outcomes to go into effect during the 2010-2011 academic year:
- Demonstrate critical thinking in their practice of library, archival, and information science
- Communicate clearly and effectively in a range of formats to a variety of audiences
- Demonstrate leadership capability in practice and service and in diverse communities.
CURRENT AND ONGOING
During the 2010-2011 academic year, the GSLIS Assessment Committee began mapping the curriculum to the student learning outcomes to: 1) track how courses addressed and assessed each of the student learning outcomes; and 2) to identify areas of strength and opportunities for improvement in the curriculum. A faculty committee focused on revising the core curriculum during the 2011-2012 academic year proposed a alternate approach to the GSLIS curriculum: from Foundations to Capstone. Following up on these activities, the faculty voted in Spring 2012 to: a) increase the required number of credits to complete the degree from 36 to 39 credits; and b) add a foundations course and capstone experience to the curriculum, thereby better meeting the new learning outcomes.
Beginning in Fall 2013, all incoming GSLIS students will begin the program with a required Foundations course which introduces the learning outcomes of the program, integrates activities and assignments related to those outcomes, and lays the groundwork for students to plan their curriculum to achieve those outcomes. Two additional core courses (LIS 415: Information Organization and LIS 407: Reference/Information Services) will be taken in a proscribed sequence. All students will also be required to complete a capstone project and create a program portfolio in order to graduate. These projects will require students to synthesize their learning during the program, reflect on how they have achieved the learning outcomes, and provide the evidence to demonstrate that achievement.
In November 2011, Simmons College hired Dr. Susan Gracia as the Simmons Director of Assessment. The GSLIS Assessment Committee, working in close coordination with the All Simmons Assessment Committee (ASAC) and Dr. Gracia, have begun to examine how to incorporate a more general assessment survey (piloted in January 2012) into the salary/jobs survey conducted three times each year for Library Journal.
The following items are publicly viewable additional documentation and links to ongoing assessment efforts:
- Technology Orientation Requirement (TOR) questions and data (sample) (coming soon)
- Screenshot of the syllabus wiki, available at http://gslis.simmons.edu/wikis/syllabi/Main_Page to all GSLIS students and faculty with a Simmons login
- Curriculum Map
- Career support and development activities, 2009-2012 (Example: Flyer from Spring 2012 Career Boot Camp)
- 2012-2013 GSLIS Assessment Committee Membership and Charge (coming soon)
- Library Journal Salary/Job Placement Survey Information
- Statistics/Sample Listings from GSLIS Job Postings (New England Jobline)
The following list is sample documentation that is only available to accrediting bodies and review boards:
- Course syllabus
- Student course evaluations
- Peer annual review (faculty)
- Self-assessment (faculty)
- Curriculum Committee minutes
- Annual GSLIS Stakeholder Retreat notes
- Draft Portfolio Guidelines from Capstone Implementation Subcommittee (under development)
- Draft Foundations class syllabus from Foundations Implementation Subcommittee (under development)
Assessment of student learning outcomes is a continuous and dynamic process. Please check back to this page for regular updates.
(1) Gloria Chernay, Accreditation and the Role of the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation (Washington, DC: The Council on Postsecondary Accreditation, 1990), p. 3.
(2) Standards for Accreditation of Master's Programs in Library & Information Studies (Chicago, IL: Office for Accreditation, American Library Association, 2008), p.4