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evidence based decision-making, librarians, rubrics




Education | Library and Information Science


Objective ‐ Every day librarians make decisions that impact on the provision of library products and services. To formulate good decisions librarians must be equipped with reliable and valid data. Unfortunately, many library processes generate vast quantities of unwieldy information that is ill suited for the evidence based decision‐making (EBDM) practices librarians strive to employ. Librarians require tools to facilitate the translation of unmanageable facts and figures into data that can be used to support decision‐making. One such tool is a rubric. Rubrics provide benefits to librarians seeking to use EBDM strategies. This study examined librarians’ abilities to use rubrics as a decision facilitation tool, explored barriers that might prevent effective rubric usage, and suggested training topics that address potential barriers.

Methods ‐ The data for the study came from student responses to open‐ended questions embedded in an online information literacy tutorial, LOBO, used by first‐year students in English 101 at North Carolina State University (NCSU). Fifteen academic librarians, five instructors, and five students applied rubrics to transform students’ textual responses into quantitative data; this data was statistically analyzed for reliability and validity using Cohen’s Kappa. Participant comment sheets were also examined to reveal potential hurdles to effective rubric use.

Results ‐ Statistical analysis revealed that a subset of participants included in this study were able to use a rubric to achieve substantially valid results. On the other hand, some participants were unable to achieve an expert level of validity and alluded to roadblocks that interfered with their ability to provide quality data using rubrics.

Conclusion ‐ Participant feedback can be categorized into six barriers that may explain why some participants could not attain expert status: 1) difficulty understanding an outcomes based approach, 2) tension between analytic and holistic rubric structures, 3) failure to comprehend rubric terms, 4) disagreement with rubric assumptions, 5) difficulties with data artifacts, and 6) difficulties understanding local library context and culture. Fortunately, each of these barriers can be addressed through training topics that maximize the usefulness of a rubric approach to EBDM.