Six Dimensions of Assessment

January, 2023

An effective program of service assessment incorporates many different kinds of measurement and evaluation. In 2014, I developed the first draft of the Six Dimensions framework to help my library develop an intentionally diverse slate of assessments. The following year, I introduced the framework in an encyclopedia article. In 2016, I explained in a conference presentation how it could be applied to the appraisal of a library assessment program.

For the next several years, I did nothing further to elaborate or share the Six Dimensions framework. In 2022, I collaborated with Kory Quirion to revise it and flesh it out. The two of us presented the updated framework in an accelerator session at the (virtual) Library Assessment Conference that year. Shortly thereafter, in 2023, we shared a succinct version as part of an in-service faculty workshop; that version is presented here.

In its latest form, Six Dimensions calls for classifying any given assessment on six distinct scales:

  • Quantitative -- Qualitative

  • Solicitation (Perception) -- Observation (Behavior)

  • Comparative -- Unique

  • Longitude -- Exploration

  • Inputs/Outputs -- Outcomes

  • System-Oriented -- User-Centric

Although I (and later we) developed Six Dimensions in the context of an academic library, it is readily usable in other service environments. It yields value when it is applied to a portfolio of assessments, whether for the purpose of evaluating a portfolio's strengths and weaknesses or planning a portfolio that is intentionally and appropriately diverse.

Want to learn more about service assessment and related topics?

Click the buttons below to see relevant entries in my bibliography, SmithFile.