Improving systems through user experience (UX) testing and assessing the value of library and information services are essential for new roles for information professionals. With support from the IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian grant program, the Experience Assessment (UX-A) project will face this challenge of educating our future information professionals in all aspects of performance and measurement in both libraries and information environments. Led by Chancellor's Professor Carol Tenopir, SIS Professor Dania Bilal, SIS Associate Professor Rachel Fleming-May, and UT Libraries Assessment Librarian Regina Mays, UX-A will combine coursework, training, and hands-on experience to equip a diverse cohort of twelve SIS master’s students with competences in assessment and user experience testing.
The two-year program began in fall 2016. In addition to required coursework and assistantships, the students participated in nearly 60 hours of curated online training via Lynda.com, face-to-face workshops with OIT, and team meetings. Now in their second semester, the students are divided into research teams to work with real-world stakeholders and gain hands-on experience with survey design, user testing, and data analysis as well as providing actionable information based on the results.
UX-A also includes a team of mentors—highly experienced information practitioners working in Knoxville and Oak Ridge—to support the students and the program. These mentors will serve as the students’ practicum advisors for UX-A year 2. The program itself is being evaluated and assessed at every stage in order to foster a sustainable program that will prepare students for an information career in user experience and assessment.