For the past four years, the Capturing Connected Learning in Libraries (CCLL) project has partnered with libraries across the country in support of their ability to evaluate their connected learning programs and spaces. Through frequent meetings, consultations, and workshops, the CCLL team has learned about each library’s unique evaluation needs and either directed library staff to already available tools and resources, or helped them build tools to best serve their evaluation needs.
We’ve had some hiccups along the way, but they have led to new opportunities which we embraced and built on — like when an epic snowstorm cancelled our evaluation workshop at the Public Library Association Conference in 2018, an event which ultimately led us to create the Capturing Connected Learning in Libraries video series. This series made the contents of our evaluation workshops available to libraries around the world when previously they were only available to in-person participants. We’ve also learned so much from our research+practice partnerships — check out the lessons learned from our case study series. As the CCLL project officially comes to a close, our research team has two parting resources and tools to leave you with, in support of evaluation and assessment needs for libraries and informal learning environments.
- The recently published Evaluation Plan Template is a tool designed to help researchers and evaluators working with libraries and informal learning environments walk through the process of creating an evaluation plan together. The template includes guiding questions to help evaluators and scholars involved in research+practice partnerships work with their partners to illuminate their program goals, identify what will be assessed, and determine what data will be collected and how. The template also walks through how to analyze data once it is collected, and includes example analysis from a library program invested in interest discovery and skill development.
- In our partnerships with libraries across the country, and in hearing from library staff, museum educators, and other informal learning educators during our conference presentations and workshops, one practical assessment measure stood out as the most accessible and adaptable for these groups to use: talkback boards. The Talkback Board Repository is the last in our series of published resources and showcases a repository of prompts organized by common interests brought to us by library staff. Each talkback board prompt includes the high level outcome as well as the concepts that are being measured. In the repository, you will find prompts for measuring concepts such as interest discovery, leveling up, demonstrating curiosity, leadership, peer support, career exploration, and many more. The resource closes with an example of one way to analyze talkback board data from one of our partner libraries.
We hope you find the case studies, resources, and tools that have come out of the Capturing Connected Learning in Libraries project helpful and easy to use. Our lives have been enriched by the experiences we’ve had with the partners we have worked with, the connections we’ve made to library staff we’ve met at conferences and workshops, and the time spent together working as a team for the past four years.