Working toward a culture of instructional assessment

Meghan Wanucha Smith (Research and Instructional Services, East Carolina University J. Y. Joyner Library, Greenville, North Carolina, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Publication date: 8 August 2019



This paper describes the development of a culture of assessment in an academic library’s information literacy program offered through its Research and Instructional Services department.


Incorporating components from change management, adult learning and organizational authority approaches offers opportunities for those without managerial duties to encourage others to incorporate student learning assessment into their work. Over a three-year period, instruction assessment was refreshed and renewed in an information literacy program and individual sessions through workshops, new assessment techniques and reflective activities.


Approaching cultural change through small, incremental activities can be a useful method for encouraging buy-in and engagement from library workers. Efforts at one academic library resulted in increased rates of assessment in instruction sessions and self-reported willingness to use assessment techniques in the future.

Research limitations/implications

This paper is limited to the analysis and building of an assessment culture within a single academic library department.


Changing organizational culture is a complex undertaking, particularly for those without supervisory duties. This paper applies approaches of change leadership and assessment from existing literature to an instruction program through the lens of “coordinator syndrome.” Librarians from institutions where assessment is dispersed throughout an organization or where assessment has been seen in a negative light may find a similar incremental approach useful in their own context.



Smith, M. (2019), "Working toward a culture of instructional assessment", Reference Services Review, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

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