Assessing Information Literacy Skills


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Originally uploaded by mia!

This year, the librarians at my library worked together to assess the library instruction portion of our freshman writing course.

All freshman take this writing and critical thinking class, and faculty are required to bring their students in for one 1-hour session on library skills.  Most faculty fulfill this requirement.

Last summer, we spent some time revising the goals and objectives for this one 50 minute session.  Based on the ACRL information literacy standards, our goals are rather modest: it is difficult to learn very much in 50 minutes.  After revising our goals and objectives, we developed a brief test to assess this objectives.

We were able to test some of our incoming freshman during the first few weeks of their college career.  We also have the results of the test from students at the end of their first semester, and for other students at the end of their first year.

The results are in, and I have spent some time analyzing them.  After sharing the results with the librarians, we will meet again to decide if we need to revise our original goals and objectives.  To me, this is the most important part of the assessment process.  Good assessment requires you to go back and look at your original goals.  Have you met your goals?  If so, do they need to change?  If not, what can you do to acheive those goals.  Simply collecting data without re-examining the original goals is a waste of everyones time.

So have the students met our goals?  Well, mostly.

  • Most students continue to think that our OPAC contains journal articles
  • They can’t seem to tell the difference between a book review and an article, but at least the book reviews they find are on-topic, and more students can successfully find something at the end of the year than at the beginning
  • Students can easily interpret records in our OPAC, but aren’t as good at evaluating a results list, although this improves with time
  • Worryingly (since I’m the library webmaster), students can’t seem to find our resources by subject lists at the beginning of the year or at the end.
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