MLIS Program Performance

Overview Derek Christiansen

MLIS Program Performance

Program Based Assessment

The San José State University School of Information has developed a set of Program Learning Outcomes that are focused on the core competencies of our profession. The culminating e-Portfolio serves to assess a student’s mastery of all program learning outcomes (core competencies) for the MLIS degree before graduation.

Review and Measurement of Individual Program Learning Outcomes

Starting with the fall 2007 semester, the school has collected data each semester on the number of revisions needed to satisfactorily demonstrate achievement of a defined subset of 5 of the MLIS Program Learning Outcomes or Core Competencies presented in students’ culminating electronic portfolios. Our goal is to have 90% or better of INFO 289 (e-Portfolio) students who need no or only 1 revision to a Statement of Competency, the essay in which they demonstrate achievement of a specific Program Learning Outcome. If less than 90% of students submit work at that level, then that identifies for the faculty a need for curricular review of the courses that address that Program Learning Outcome.

Since 2007, we have collected datasets on all of our competencies and constantly review them as part of our ongoing curricular review process.

Assessment of Individual Program Learning Outcomes Reports MLIS

Course Student Learning Outcomes and Course Mapping to Program Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

Each course has both student learning outcomes – linked to assignments – as well as core competencies (program learning outcomes) defined for that particular class. – See https://ischoolapps.sjsu.edu/slo-core/mlis.php

External Inputs into the Curriculum

Field Based Program Advisory Committees

International Advisory Council

Emerging Job Trends and Titles - annual survey

Retention  and Graduation Data

As a student progresses through the MLIS program there are three key transition points where we can see retention rates.

1. After the required one unit INFO 203. This class – Online Learning: Tools and Strategies for Success – is the first class taken by students admitted into the program. Students are required to pass the class in order to continue. One of the purposes of the class is to help determine if a student is equipped for the online environment.

Table 1. INFO 203 Retention and Pass Data

Semester Total Enrolled by iSchool Withdrawn
 or dropped
Still Enrolled at Semester End NC CR Retention Rate Pass Rate
Fall 2012 506 81 425 5 420 84% 98.8%
Spring 2013 236 26 210 2 208 89% 99%
Fall 2013 404 68 336 4 332 83% 99%
Spring 2014 355 65 290 1 289 81.7% 99.7%
Fall 2014 507 84 423 1 422 83.4% 99.8%
Spring 2015 370 35 335 2 333 91% 99%
Fall 2015 471 67 404 0 404 85.77% 100%
Spring 2016 439 62 377 1 376 86% 99.73%
Fall 2016 468 57 411 1 410 88% 99.76%
Spring 2017 373 46 327 0 327 88% 100%
Fall 2017 408 47 361 0 361 88% 100%
Spring 2018 374 47 327 1 373 87% 99%
Fall 2018 502 47 455 0 455 91% 100%
Spring 2019 388 44 344 0 344 89% 100%

2. Core Courses. All students are required to make a B in each of the core classes (INFO 200 (Information Communities), INFO 202 (Information Retrieval System Design), INFO 204 (Information Professions)). Students who fail to make a B are placed on administrative probation. They have one more chance to take the class before they are disqualified from the program. The iSchool faculty’s target is that 85% of graduate students will successfully make a B in 200, 202, and 204 on the first attempt. This requirement regarding earning a grade of B or higher in each core course ensures that our new students themselves have proven that they possess sufficient interest, aptitude, and qualifications for successful completion of the program and subsequent contribution to the field.

Table 2. Data about Students Making Less than a B in Core Classes

  200 Total Enrolled # of less than B grades % 202 Total Enrolled # of less than B grades % 204 Total Enrolled # of less than B grades %
Fall 2012 383 41 10.7 314 28 8.9 311 19 6.10
Spring 2013 219 22 10 219 19 8.6 226 18 7.9
Fall 2013 298 26 8.7 233 18 7.7 219 9 4.1
Spring 2014 290 17 5.8 295 20 6.7 251 11 4.3
Fall 2014 401 41 10.2 341 17 4.9 279 11 3.9
Spring 2015 291 19 6.5 283 10 3.5 263 2 0.7
Fall 2015 365 54 14.79 306 19 6.2 279 6 2.15
Spring 2016 376 21 5.5 354 15 4.23 322 8 2.48
Fall 2016 376 33 9 333 19 6 273 9 3
Spring 2017 225 32 14.2 305 11 3.6 311 6 1.92
Fall 2017 361 23 6.37 373 15 4.02 379 6 1.5
Spring 2018 320 17 5.3 288 8 2.7 379 1 0.3
Fall 2018 436 37 8.49 430 16 3.72 391 5 1.28
Spring 2019 322 25 8 332 8 2.4 319 11 3.4

Typically 8%-10% of students who do not successfully pass core classes the first time, and opt to retake, successfully retake the classes.

3. Culminating. In order to graduate with their MLIS degree students must complete as a culminating experience either INFO 289 (e-Portfolio) or INFO 299-Thesis.

The great majority of students select e-Portfolio. The goal of the e-Portfolio is to provide a program-based assessment to ensure that each student demonstrates mastery of all program learning outcomes (core competencies) for the degree before graduation.

The e-Portfolio can be completed in one semester though the preparation happens all throughout the student’s program.

The completion of a thesis represents an organized research effort, where the student makes an original contribution to the field. It may take as many as two or more years, although most theses require about a year to complete. Between fall 2010 and fall 2018, 14 students selected a thesis. Six have completed; three have withdrawn from doing a thesis; the others are in progress. In 2012, a graduating student -Jack Tilney- won the University’s outstanding graduate thesis award. To see MLIS theses in the King Library use the Scholarworks information in point one on this page.

Table 3. INFO 289: e-Portfolio Statistics

  Total Enrolled Passed No Credit* Incomplete Incomplete (cont’d)
Fall 2012 285 253 (89%) 11 20 3
Spring 2013 327 296 (90%) 18 13 1
Fall 2013 293 253 (86%) 19 21 1
Spring 2014 305 282 (92%) 12 11 6
Fall 2014 242 218 (90%) 14 9 0
Spring 2015 273 252 (92%) 14 7 0
Fall 2015 253 225 (89%) 13 15 0
Spring 2016 262 239 (91%) 8 15 0
Fall 2016 263 245 (93%) 11 7 0
Spring 2017 257 234 (91%) 15 8 0
Fall 2017 293 266 (91%) 12 15 0
Spring 2018 281 254 (90.4%) 12 15 0
Fall 2018 300 278 (92.7%) 7 15 0
Spring 2019 279 248 (88.9%) 21 10 0

*Students who obtain a No Credit in INFO 289 have one more chance to retake the e-Portfolio course. A No Credit is awarded if a student fails to submit at least 10 satisfactory statements of competency with supporting evidence. If a student receives a second No Credit, they are disqualified from the MLIS program. Between fall 2010 and spring 2019, there were sixteen disqualifications due to failing to produce a satisfactory e-Portfolio after two attempts.

Graduating Student Exit Survey Data

We survey our graduating students each semester as they complete the MLIS program. The information below is from one of our most recent exit survey, presenting the 155 survey responses we received from MLIS students, who graduated in December 2018.

For a summary of 2019 responses see MLIS Student Experience (Spring 2019)

MLIS Alumni Survey Data

We survey our alumni within 13 months after they graduate to track employment trends, ensure that our curriculum remains relevant, and help us anticipate shifts in the job market.

Our most recent survey was sent in May 2019 to graduates who completed the MLIS program during calendar year 2018. We received a total of 169 responses to our survey.

We are pleased to share the following data regarding our alumni.

80% are employed in a library or information science career environment, and 6% are working in a LIS capacity but not in a LIS institution. 

Library and information science is the first professional career for many of our recent graduates (49%). Others are changing their career focus, having previously worked in a wide variety of fields, such as education, communications, criminal justice, military and publishing.

Now that they have earned their MLIS degree, 76% have permanent, full-time positions and are working in diverse LIS career environments, including public libraries, academic libraries, K-12 schools, and special libraries.

“It was a great experience and has opened up a lot of opportunities for me.”

Their job titles are just as varied as their employers and include Field Archivist, Law Library Technician, Virtual Reference Librarian, Media Specialist, Teacher Librarian, Metadata Librarian, Digital Collections Specialist, and many more positions.

Our alumni are putting their MLIS skills to work performing many different job duties, such as circulation, collection development, outreach, and readers’ advisory. When asked to select their primary job assignment, the following top five job assignments received the most responses:

  1. Reference / Information Services
  2. Public Services
  3. Children’s Services
  4. School Librarian / School Library Media Specialist
  5. Adult Services

In anticipation of graduating, most students who weren’t currently employed began the job search while in their final semester of the MLIS program. 79% were hired in the information profession within six months after earning their MLIS degree.

Many students work while earning their degree and opt to remain with an employer or position held prior to or while attending the MLIS program. Those who chose to stay with an existing employer said the master’s degree helped advance their career. 65% reported that they received a promotion, got a raise, and/or moved from support staff to professional staff.

“I was hired for the Teen Services Librarian position. My title and pay changed after I received my degree, but my work stayed the same.” 

Our alumni shared that they believe the following five experiences/activities were most helpful or important in obtaining their first job in the information profession:

  1. Previous Employment Experience
  2. Technological Skills
  3. Subject Specialization
  4. Choosing Electives from Multiple Career Pathways
  5. Networking with Professionals in the Field

Our students not only live across North America while completing the fully online MLIS program, they are also working in different geographic areas after graduation. For example, our alumni reported that their employers are located in the U.S., Canada, India, and Russia.

The survey concluded with the option for alumni to share their comments regarding the MLIS program. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say:

“I really loved my MLIS program and experience. I think that it prepared me well for the job market and my current position.”

“I loved San Jose’s MLIS program. It was a great way for me to continue working in the library field, and so many times I could see how my course work and my job overlapped. I had amazing support from my supervisors, which is essential for MLIS students. I loved being able to do it entirely online, as I moved from Colorado to Illinois during it and worked two jobs as well.”

“It was a wonderful experience. I followed the advice from peers to take a variety of courses, and it was good for me. Get out of your comfort zone. Intercultural communication was very helpful combined with many other classes.”

“I was very happy with the program. It afforded me the ability to learn skills, get experience in a variety of environments through internships and volunteering, and to make friends and expand my network.”

“The online format allowed me to gain useful work experience while pursuing my degree, so by the time I finished, I possessed all the qualifications needed for a professional, benefited librarian role. I’m glad I pursued this degree, and I’m glad I did it through SJSU.”

We invite you to learn more about our alumni by browsing our alumni career spotlights, reading alumni stories, and watching videos of them at work and their impact on our global communities.

2016 Employer Survey

We most recently surveyed employers of our graduates in August of 2016. 128 employers participated in the survey.

  • 88% of employers believed the SJSU graduate(s) were well-prepared and trained for their position in the organization.
  • 82% of employers ranked the technological skills of iSchool graduates in their employ as either very good or good.

Employer feedback on our MLIS graduates employed in their organizations:

  • I am lucky to have 4 excellent SJSU graduates working in my branch; they are bright, motivated, and manage to be detail oriented while still able to work towards bigger picture goals. Graduate Job Title: Youth Services Librarian; Librarian I/II
  • Both of the alumni that work here are exceptional at working with a diverse population. They have excellent public service skills, and they enjoy working with all patrons.  We have a unique type of diversity in our community, and both librarians are perfectly prepared and trained to work with every type of patron. Graduate Job Title: Librarian I/II; Collection Development Librarian
  • Cataloging skills and overall critical thinking and organizational skills are outstanding! Communication skills are also exceptional in this graduate. Graduate Job Title: Cataloguer; Metadata Librarian
  • Over the years I have hired several SJSU MLIS graduates with resounding success. They have contributed to the growth and stature of our department, increasing its value to the organization such that we are a strong unit within the parent organization. I value SJSU MLIS students so much that I encourage internships to be placed in our library. Graduate Job Title: Research Librarian; Archivist
  • Most of my employees who are SJSU graduates began working here through your internship program (note to self – I need to update my internship description). I have found those folks to be an excellent fit here at the library – they have been highly motivated, skilled, and adaptable. Keep ‘em coming! Graduate Job Title: Youth Services Librarian; Reference and Instruction Librarian; Programming Librarian