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Library Instruction & Information Literacy

Librarians frolic and share library instruction, information literacy, and assessment activities, as well as program results and strategic directions.

Assessment Methods

Many of us assess our library instruction classes constantly, but do not think of it as such.  If you ask for a show of hands or have the students complete an exercise or worksheet, you are assessing.

Competency or Satisfaction?

Competency assessment looks for evidence of student learning.  Satisfaction assessment looks for evidence of faculty and/or student satisfaction with your session.  This page talks about competency assessment.  (The "After the Session" tab deals with satisfaction assessment -- both are important so try for a mix!).

Methods of competency assessment:

  • Quizzes (clickers, paper, libguides polls)
  • Exercises/Worksheets (short answer, case study)
  • In-class observations, class Q&A, group discussion and/or work, or interactions (active learning)
  • Minute papers
    • Minute papers often look for satisfaction but can also tell you about student learning depending on what you are asking for.​

The above methods are what we will use most often because they are examples of formative assessment. Formative assessment is rather low-stakes and help students and instructors identify their strengths and weaknesses in learning a skill.  However, if you have a good relationship or collaboration with a faculty member, you may also be able to look at summative assessments: high stakes assignments that evaluate student learning at the end of the term.

Summative assessments might include:

  • Gathering rubric data related to information literacy skills from faculty
  • Looking at students' research assignments (with a faculty member's collaboration).

Below are detailed descriptions of how you might use these methods.

Quizzes, Exercises, and Worksheets

1. Quizzes 

  • The quizzes on the classroom desktop
  • A paper quiz you provide
  • Clicker questions
  • Our tutorial quizzes
  • Libguides poll

2. Exercises/Worksheets

  • Any exercises/worksheets you create for a class.
  • Any exercise/worksheet an instructor creates that measures IL skills

Ummm . . . How do I assess quizzes, worksheets, and exercises?

  • Identify the SLO(s) you want the students to learn.
  • Create questions or look for examples of questions that address those SLOs to create the quiz or worksheet.
  • The quiz may only address 1 or 2 SLOs or it may address more.  If it addresses more, you may choose only to assess/grade the questions that address 1-2 SLOs.
  • Map which questions go to which SLO
  • How many questions did the students get right/wrong for each SLO?
  • Reflect on why that might be so.  
    • If everyone got them right, your instruction techniques might be off-the-chart amazing.  Or, the students already knew what you taught them. Or, the questions may have been too easy. What could you do to adjust or find out what might be true?
    • If some got them wrong, why might that be so? What could you change in order to have them get more questions right?
  • Record your results and what you might change next time.  Make notes on your working quiz/worksheet so that you will actually change something the next time you teach and have something to compare it to.  The SLO Form will help.
  • That's called Closing the Loop, buds.  Good work!

Minute Papers or Minute Class Assessment

3. Minute-papers or Minute Class Assessment


- Write down one thing you learned. Write down one thing that is still unclear.


- Ask them this and call on students to briefly answer.

- Based on what you learned today, what will you do differently next time you do research for an assignment?

- Or, similar to a quiz, ask them a quick response when you haven't prepared a quiz.  Where do you go to find a book on the library's website? (Catalog) What information do you need to locate it? (Call number).  Assess like a quiz.

It seems random. How do I assess?

  • See if there are similarities emerging from what they learned and what is confusing. Dividing into categories can help.
  • Naming what they learned will often show what they are interested in and you'll know what engaged them / what to keep doing.
  • Naming the unclear points will help you identify trouble-spots in their learning.
  • Find a way to record the responses in categories.  Write down what you will do differently next time to clear up muddy points.  See if it works!

In-Class Observations

This method may be the least accurate; however, it may be the best way to assess classes where you want to give them time to research their own topics in their own way (the students may be at different phases of the research process).

How do I do it?

There is no one-way to do this, sorry!

  • How did the class respond to your instruction: w'questions, discussion, being attentive, following your lead, etc.
  • You may simply walk around and make yourself available to students who need help.  If so, is there a way you can remember at which points students are "getting stuck"?
  • You may want to glance at computer screens and see which students are immediately on the right track and tally those who seem "lost." Offer help! This is point-of-need assessment & teaching!
  • Take 15 minutes after an instruction session to reflect on the types of questions asked and how you taught.  
  • Record what you will change for next time and make a note on your instruction outline so you will.
  • See if it works.

*See also "Active Learning" in this tab for ideas about Group Work/Interactions

Faculty Collaborations

Working with faculty is often the best way to see if the research skills taught have been retained by students.

If you are comfortable with asking, see if a faculty member uses a rubric to grade research assignments.  If so, is there a portion of the rubric devoted to information literacy skills (e.g., quality of sources, citation accuracy, etc)? Ask if she would be comfortable sharing those anonymously.  Record results/strengths/weaknesses and how you might improve your instruction.

Reference Pages
See if a faculty member will share Reference & Works Cited pages from student research papers and the coinciding grades.  Can you tell anything from this information?

Training Documents

Use the documents below to refresh your training!

Assessment Cycle Example