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Penn State University Libraries

Policies and Guidelines




  • Purpose
  • Formative Assessment
  • Summative Assessment


These Guidelines are intended to provide avenues for both formative and summative assessment of a librarian’s course-related instruction.  Each librarian is encouraged to employ formative assessment on a regular basis as an aid to becoming proficient in teaching.  The recommendations for summative assessment were developed to respond to the Dean’s charge to develop a form of assessment that is credible to faculty and administrators across the University community.


Ongoing formative assessment should be conducted by all librarians who teach, beginning as soon as possible in the first year.  This assessment can be seen by the librarian and the supervisor and is encouraged as part of the self-evaluation process for the improvement of teaching.  Continual self improvement is a value for the University as well as the individual.  Formative assessment is part of a developmental process in which the supervisor helps the librarian improve his/her teaching, but it is not to be a formal part of the promotion and tenure process.

Timing: As often as possible.

The librarian may select those methods of formative assessment that best fit his or her style and needs.  Multiple methods should be used, such as:

Course instructor feedback:

  • Informal discussion
  • Questionnaire later in the semester

Student feedback:

  • Oral questioning during class
  • Evaluative surveys to be filled out in the last few minutes of the class session, or soon after the end of class
  • Questionnaires later in the semester

Peer evaluation:

  • Very informal.  This can be done by any librarian.

Self evaluation, addressing these questions (try to be as specific as possible):

  • What did you do to prepare for the session?
  • What do you think worked well in the session?
  • What problems/difficulties did you encounter?
  • How would you change the session the next time you taught it?

In addition to formative assessment, multiple opportunities for self-improvement should be pursued, such as one-on-one coaching, seminars, workshops, consultation with Library Learning Services, etc.


Summative assessment provides a more formal evaluation of the librarian’s teaching and is a source of information for supervisors to incorporate into the annual evaluation and into the summary letters for the dossier.  Librarians having instruction in their primary assignment are required to conduct summative assessment.


  • For tenure-line librarians, at the fourth- and sixth-year reviews and prior to promotional and extended reviews (a minimum of two assessments before each review).
  • For fixed-term librarians, once a year after the first year of appointment of a multi-year contract, as part of their annual assessments.

Peer evaluation is required:

  • Any full-time faculty member selected by the librarian, tenure-line or not, can do a peer review of library instruction.
  • The librarian being reviewed should identify the class to be reviewed.  Additional classes are optional.
  • Peer meets with librarian before visiting the class and again after the class but before writing the letter.
  • Guidelines for the peer reviewer are available.  
  • Conclusions, summaries, and/or excerpts of the content should be included in the annual evaluation letter and summary evaluation letter of the promotion and tenure dossier.  The complete letter shall not be included in the dossier.  At the discretion of the librarian, the letter may be placed in a supplemental dossier file or a teaching portfolio, if desired.

Course instructor feedback:

  • Questionnaire immediately following the class
  • Questionnaire later in the semester

Student feedback:

  • Evaluative surveys to be filled out in the last few minutes of the class session, or soon after the end of class
  • Questionnaires later in the semester

Student and course instructor feedback is strongly encouraged.  Campus and University promotion and tenure committees look for student feedback in particular, and therefore librarians are strongly encouraged to use this form of assessment.  Sample assessment forms are available at (staff only).  Campuses with procedures and/or forms already in use that go beyond the current guidelines can elect to continue using them.  Because different classes have different goals and objectives, no single assessment instrument will be required and librarians may adapt or develop their own.  Assessment of course-related instruction should be tied to the learning objectives created by the librarian before teaching the class.  The Department of Library Learning Services can assist librarians with writing objectives and subsequent assessment questions.

Instructor or student evaluations should be sent to the librarian’s supervisor or, at University Park, to the Head of Library Learning Services, and copies sent simultaneously to the librarian.  If this is inconvenient (as in the case of multiple student assessments) after going to the supervisor they should be forwarded to the librarian as soon as possible.  This practice will help the librarian as part of the self-improvement process.  It is the responsibility of the supervisor to work with the librarian to ensure that formative and summative assessments are being done.

Teaching portfolios are optional.  A Teaching Portfolio can help illustrate a librarian’s teaching efforts and successes and provides additional information for promotion and tenure committees.  A "How to Guide" (staff only) for creating teaching portfolios is available for reference.


Other Policies/Guidelines in this manual should also be referenced, especially the following:

Guideline UL-ING05 -- Administrative Guidelines for Peer Review of Course-Related Instruction
Form: Peer Review of Course-Related Instruction Document

Effective Date: April 15, 2005
Date Approved: April 15, 2005 (Dean)

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • August 2007 - Revised; Instructional Programs to Library Learning Services
  • April 15, 2005 - Supersedes previous guideline of September 2003
  • September 9, 2003 - New guideline (Pilot Phase)

Last Review Date:  August 2007