Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Using Retrospective Pre/Then/Post Tests to Gauge Learner Motivation #WILU2024

Photo by Sheila Webber of the asbestos sculpture inn Vancouver in May 2024

Continuing to liveblog from the WILU conference In Vancouver, Canada, I'm now attending a session  Begin at the End: Using Retrospective Pre/Then/Post Tests to Gauge Learner Motivation presented by Bridgid Fennell (Social and Behavioral Sciences Librarian, University of Southern California, USA). 
Fennell started by contrasting the traditional pre/post structure with the retrospective-pre test approach that she used for practical reasons. She quoted Patricia Senn Breivik who said that IL is "a learning issue not a library issue". She contrasted assessment (measuring student learning) and evaluation (which is what you apply to a programme, module etc.)
Fennell also distinguished between objectives (statements about what the students should be able to do, where you can tell wheteher or not whether they have been met) and outcomes, which she saw as the longer term impact. Fennell then talked about the philosopohies of Paulo Freire and bell hooks, and showed Bloom's (revised) taxonomy of learning (which has create at the top). She went on to mention Gagne's types of learning outcomes (which includes attitudes), the affective dimension in the Metaliteracy model and Kirkpatrick's 4 levels of training evaluation. 
Fennell identified the backwards design model (advocated in the ARCL IL Framework) as being effective. From Maslow's hierarchy of needs she picked out that you need to meet basic needs of students (that they need to feel healthy, not hungry etc.) as a basis to be motivated to learn. In terms of affective domains of learning, Fennell talked about motivational theory, race & marginalised identities, and anxiety issues (including library anxiety and specific anxieties e.g. maths anxiety).
Moving on to assessing disposition in a one-shot, Fennell talked about her own practice: setting out for herself: the learning objectives, what the activity will be and how it fits with the ACRL Framework. She uses polls including open ended questions such as "Explain why it is important to be flexible and persistent when the search process seems ambiguous" - the students eem to be more resposnive when they can contribute online and anonymously.
In terms of retrospective items - she might ask at the end of a session how confident students were in their ability to use the library before the session (using a smiley face likert scale) and how confident they feel after the session. This particular data is also valuable for convincing other librarians about the value of IL education.
The benefits of the approach include that it measures change in student disposition, saves time, it is good not to start a session with a "test", fits in with institutional accountability, you pick up the students who are late to class (and would have missed a pre test). Drawbacks include that it is self-reporting, there may be recall bias or "courtesy" bias (wanting to be nice to you), and that it may be not be seen as rigourous. Fennell felt the method was easy, friendly and grounded in instructional theory.
The slides are available here
Photo by Sheila Webber: asbestos sculpture Vancouver, May 2024

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