The role of the TL and evidence-based practice

Teacher librarians (TLs) need to demonstrate the impact they have on student learning through the use of quantitative and qualitative data within their own schools in order to prove their worth and advocate for their position within the school community (Kramer, 2010). Whilst evidence-based practice (EBP) can be used to demonstrate a TL’s ability to enhance student learning outcomes it can also be used to show the value of teacher and TL collaboration (Kramer, 2010). Todd considers evidence-based practice to be an integral element of the role of the TL, not only as a means to provide evidence of the worth of a TL but also as a way to improve and evaluate teaching practice (Todd, 2008).

Collecting evidence of student learning does not have to be driven by a test or assessment data – the evidence can be collected from the answers on a worksheet/questionnaire or could be part of a reflection on learning after completion of a task with the help of the TL (Kramer, 2010). Evidence can also be collected through interviews or learning journals. Another useful way of obtaining evidence of student learning can be data from standardised tests used in conjunction with data from the library, for example by comparing reading scores with a student’s use of the library and reading materials, (Oberg, 2002).

Action research provides a means of collecting and analysing data about student learning with specific research questions or problems in mind. (Harada, n.d.). The TL (and classroom teacher) can measure the effect on student learning outcomes by gathering and evaluating data from learning experiences in the library. For example action research can be used to address a problem such as plagiarism. The TL would devise tasks to teach students about plagiarism and then measure the success of the actions/tasks through evidence gained from completion of the tasks (Oberg, 2002). Very careful and detailed planning, reflection and evaluation of the actions taken are needed for the success of action research projects.

Using the tool known as the Student Learning Through Inquiry Measure (SLIM) developed by the Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries is a most valuable way for TL’s to implement EPB as it provides quantitative and qualitative data for analysis and comparison (Todd, 2011) . This tool is used in conjunction with the Guided Inquiry (GI) approach to learning and Kuhlthau’s model of the Information Search Process (Todd, 2011). The SLIM toolkit is sophisticated, it consists of three reflection instruments used at different stages of the GI and it enables students, and the TL and teacher team, to consider the progress of the learning journey and the emotions involved. Students use higher order and meta-cognitive thinking skills to evaluate their own learning and at the same time the SLIM toolkit provides evidence for TL’s to analyse and data to use to improve student learning outcomes and teaching practice (Fitzgerald, 2011).

Everyone within the education community, not least the TL, is accountable for student achievement – EBP is essential for demonstrating and improving the ability of TL’s to make a difference to student learning outcomes.

Fitzgerald, L. (2011). The Twin Purposes of Guided Inquiry: guiding student inquiry and evidenced based practice. Scan 30(1), 26-41.
Oberg, D (2002). Looking for the evidence: Do school libraries improve student achievement? School Libraries in Canada 22(2) 10-13
Kramer, P. K., & Diekman, L. (2010). Evidence = assessment = advocacy. Teacher Librarian, 37(3), 27-30.
Todd, R. (2008). The Evidence-Based Manifesto. School Library Journal, 54(4) 38-43 Retrieved from
Todd, R.J. (2011) Charting student learning through inquiry. [Article] School Library Monthly, 28(3), 5- 8.
Verada, H. (n.d.). Building evidenced-based practice through action research. Retrieved from


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