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Librarians all know the importance of a reference interview -- it's to make sure you're addressing what the patron actually needs. Classes take longer, and involve more people, but the fact still holds: to give the best service, you need to assess what the needs actually are.
An additional benefit of pre-assessment is that it can provide evidence of the impact of the teaching program, both to university administration and to accreditation organizations.
Presented by Gwen Exner at "Assessment Beyond Statistics" NCLA College & Universities Section/Community & Junior Colleges Section 2012 conference.