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It looks nice, but does it work? Using student learning outcomes to assess library instructional spaces

Zoe Jarocki (Library Department, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA)

Performance Measurement and Metrics

ISSN: 1467-8047

Article publication date: 29 October 2019

Issue publication date: 3 December 2019




The purpose of this paper is to discuss how a mixed-methods approach to assessing student learning was used to determine the efficacy of redesigned library instructional spaces.


In 2017, the library at San Diego State remodeled a classroom to support active learning. The author undertook a pilot study to compare outcomes from the active learning classroom (ALC) and the traditional computer lab (CL) classroom. The assessment was done after one-shot library sessions for four sections of the same course in the ALC and the CL. Students completed surveys to assess their reactions to the instruction and e-mailed the librarian copies of the articles that they selected which were analyzed for quality using a rubric.


The mean scores from the CL classroom sections were slightly higher for the survey questions, though it was not statistically significant. The articles selected by students in the ALC had a slightly higher average quality score on the rubric, however, it was not large enough to be statistically significant.

Research limitations/implications

This was a limited assessment project and the results may not be generalizable to other institutions or types of instruction. Overall, students selected high-quality resources and felt positive about the library after instruction in both library classrooms. The data did not demonstrate significant improvements in student learning outcomes or attitudes in the remodeled ALC.


This mixed-methods assessment technique can be used to evaluate student learning and attitudes about the library and may be adapted by other librarians. It may also be of interest to those interested in designing learning spaces in libraries.



This paper was originally presented at the 13th International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries (LibPMC) held in Aberystwyth, Wales, pp. 23-25, July 2019.


Jarocki, Z. (2019), "It looks nice, but does it work? Using student learning outcomes to assess library instructional spaces", Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 213-218.



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