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Library Instructors' Toolkit : Assessment

External Tools and Resources

You may find the following forms and links useful for pre- and post-testing

Utah State has a very user-friendly list of various tools, including pre- and post-tests.

Duke University Assessment Methods and Tools

Literacy testing from the Anoka-Ramsey library, includes simple 5-question pre- and post-tests.

A more involved questionnaire from Musselman library at Gettysburg College measures Information Literacy proficiency as well as student perceptions of the library and librarians.

Jon Mueller of North Central College has compiled a bibliography with "more information than you require" on assessment on instruction and of information literacy.

And you will want to view the Template tab which has a number of helpful forms such as Communicating with Faculty

Assessment in LIS Instruction Articles

Here are a few articles that you might find useful when thinking of assessment in instruction.

Robert E Dugan, Peter Hernon, "Outcomes assessment: not synonymous with inputs and outputs" The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Volume 28, Issue 6, November–December 2002, Pages 376-380. ScienceDirect. Web. 4 Sept. 2012.

Oakleaf, Meagan, "Are They Learning? Are We? Learning Outcomes and the Academic Library" The Library Quarterly , Vol. 81, No. 1 (January 2011), pp. 61-82. JSTOR. Web. 4 Sept. 2012.

Oakleaf, Meagan, "Writing Information Literacy Assessment Plans: A Guide to Best Practice" Communications in Information Literacy, Volume 3, Issue 2 (2009), pp. 80-90. Web. 4 Sept. 2012.

Sobel, Karen, and Kenneth Wolf. "Updating Your Tool Belt Redesigning Assessments Of Learning In The Library" Reference & User Services Quarterly Volume 50, no. 3 (2011): 245-258. Academic Search Premier. Web. 4 Sept. 2012.

Guidelines for Assessment

Although the library literature on assessment in instruction contains some nice examples of using research logs, focus groups, and deep collaboration with faculty, much of what you can easily do with low-effort, high-impact assessment falls into the "quick and dirty" category. Starting from the easiest to the hardest categories, assessment can seek to measure improved student confidence, improved skills, improved usage of library materials and/or services, and improved academic performance. To get started, it may be helpful to think through the following steps:

1) What do you want to measure? Having a "learning outcome" for yourself when you decide to go forward with assessment will help determine your path forward.

2) Find out what is the best tool for gathering and measuring the data you want to collect? What are some ways you might get feedback from the students, or measure the impact of your instruction session? What kind of tool would find whether different kinds of learners came away with your desired outcomes from your session?

3) Gather consistent data. When gathering data, you want to make sure that you don't get into comparing apples and oranges. Make sure that whatever you started out trying to learn is still the focus of your assessment. If you want to find out something new, then start a new assessment project! 

4) Be open to possibility that the data gathered will change your thinking. This sounds simple, but flexibility in instruction goes a very long way. If you are discovering opportunities where students may well respond to something new, try it!

5) Don't be afraid to try something! Just reserving a couple of minutes at the start and a couple of minutes at the end of every session for assessment will go a long way towards helping you become a better instructor to the students. Students are almost always more than happy to give you feedback.

If you have any questions, again, the Learning Services Unit and/or the Assessment Librarian would be happy to help you.

For your Consideration: a Few Assessment Concepts

There are many reasons for utilizing assessment in your instruction. You may want to measure your students' confidence in using the material you have presented, you may want to see if your session is reaching different students' learning styles, getting comments about your teaching style, or even seeking suggestions for content. The important thing to keep in mind is that students are changing and learning all of the time, and we are too. Keeping the lines of communication open between instructor and student is the essence of assessment in instruction.

These are some of the basic concepts of assessment:

  • Assessment practices should ultimately make your job easier, and make your instruction more rewarding for everyone
  • Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good
  • Monitor changes in student behavior
  • Look for ways that you can improve your session to better meet the needs of the students and faculty
  • It may seem counter-intuitive, but it really is fun to assess your success!