Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

School Library Media Preparation Program Review: Perspectives of Two Stakeholder Groups

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

School Library Media Preparation Program Review: Perspectives of Two Stakeholder Groups

Article excerpt

Both the American Library Association Committee on Accreditation and the higher education regional accrediting agencies call for outcomes based assessment and involvement of stakeholders in the evaluation of degree programs. This article describes part of a project conducted at the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science to study its school library media preparation program through the perspectives of program completers and practicing school library media specialists who supervise student interns. Program completers were surveyed to discover their level of satisfaction for the USC-SLIS school library media preparation program and how well-prepared they were for their role as a school library media specialist (SLMS). Internship supervisors were surveyed about how well-prepared they found their student interns for the work of a SLMS. Results from both groups were positive, but leadership skills and practical skills emerged as areas in the curriculum that need attention. The level of program completers' professional activities is also discussed.

Introduction and Background

The American Library Association's (ALA) Standards for Accreditation of Master's Programs in Library and Information Studies calls for involvement of students, faculty, employers, alumni, and other stakeholders in the evaluation of program goals and objectives as well as evaluation of the program's curriculum and assessment of student accomplishments.1 Standards developed by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) for teacher certification programs also include requirements for involvement of the professional community in development of an assessment system that provides "regular and comprehensive" information on candidate (student) qualifications and proficiencies in order to develop plans for program improvement.2

As part of the NCATE review process, the school media faculty at the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science (USC-SLIS) in cooperation with the University's Professional Education Unit has engaged in many activities related to program assessment over the past several years. Following NCATE's 2003 approval of the American Association of School Librarian's (AASL) new standards for school media preparation programs, our program's curriculum was analyzed by aligning course content with these standards.3 As part of this comprehensive program review, we gathered data from various stakeholder groups through surveys and focus group interviews. The research reported here represents the results from online surveys of two of those stakeholder groups - program completers and internship supervisors.

The overarching aim of the comprehensive program review was to study the perceived effectiveness of our preparation program for school library media specialists (SLMSs) in order to inform the development of strategies to improve candidate performance. The specific purposes of the part of the project reported here were (1) to study program completer perspectives about the USC-SLIS preparation program for SLMSs, (2) to determine the level of professional activities in which program completers are engaged, and (3) to study the perspectives of practicing SLMSs who serve as internship supervisors regarding the competencies of student interns. Results will inform ongoing efforts for the continuous review of our preparation program for SLMSs and development of appropriate plans for program improvement. These findings may have implications for SLMS preparation programs at other institutions and for planning professional development activities for practicing SLMSs.

Several researchers have studied stakeholder perceptions of which skills and competencies of SLMSs they consider most important. Others have asked participants to compare competencies emphasized in school library media preparation programs and those perceived as most often needed in the world of practice. …

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