Assessment of Professional Dispositions of LIS Graduate Students

Research Poster - Dr. Harper - Assessment of Professional Dispositions of LIS Graduate Students

Project name: Assessment of Professional Dispositions of LIS Graduate Students

Dr. Meghan Harper, Kent State University

Project timeline: 2013 - 2017

The School of Information has an established practice of conducting ongoing assessments of student preparation to evaluate and inform course content and teaching practices. Employer assessment surveys and practica supervisors indicated that prospective employers in the field of Library and Information Science desired new employees to have an awareness of beliefs, values and ethics of the field. In support of this concern, Dr. Meghan Harper found that research indicates dispositional affect can impact decision making in the workplace.

In 2013, Dr. Meghan Harper (with Dr. Frank Lambert, Middle Tennessee State University) received a $2,650 grant from the Office of Accreditation and Assessment for the development of a school-wide professional disposition assessment. The three-phase project was designed to gather data on incoming MLIS students’ dispositions to enable informed evaluation and innovation of LIS pedagogy and increase alignment with the values of the field.

To assess awareness of the field’s professional dispositions, students enrolled in the MLIS program’s required introductory course were asked a series of belief statements. These belief statements were based on values highlighted by professional organizations in the field. In the next phase, students were asked a series of scenarios to assess their application of the field’s ethics, values, and beliefs in information settings. This data was compared to practica supervisors’ observation statements about their students’ application. Finally, all assessments were mapped to the program’s goals and to ALA’s standards.

This study found that incoming students have an awareness of the professions’ values, ethics, and beliefs. Further, practica supervisors’ do observe the application of these dispositions, but unfortunately not all practica settings enable opportunities for observing the application of all the identified core dispositions.

In 2017, Dr. Meghan Harper presented on the project’s outcomes at the ALISE Conference in Atlanta, GA.

Student Opportunities
This project was supported by Shelley Blundell, a Ph.D. graduate assistant in 2013 - 2014. Blundell participated in the creation of two instruments for the dispositional assessment. She is now an Assistant Professor in Journalism and Communication Studies at Youngstown State University. Reach out to Dr. Harper if you are interested in supporting similar projects.