Making Assessment Useful
Following guidelines in the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, librarians at the University of North Texas (UNT) have dedicated themselves to integrating library instruction into the curriculum, with the goal of establishing the roots of information literacy at the freshman level. They believe they are laying the foundation for life-long learning by teaching within the curriculum, setting the stage for student-centered learning, and providing technology competency. But are they?
To ensure that they are meeting this goal, the librarians have developed a strategy of assessment that includes pre-testing, post-testing, and "post post-testing" students using an in-house- designed, web-based software. This software requires students to perform the searching skills taught in library instruction sessions, allows them to make comments, and gauges their comfort level in approaching librarians for help. UNT's assessment is unique; it takes advantage of new testing technologies to truly learn about students' library technology competence. Instead of reporting what they think they know students are actually performing the skills taught. This is essential because "increasingly, information technology skills are interwoven with, and support, information literacy" (ACRL, Standards).
In their presentation, the speakers will demonstrate their assessment instrument. Current findings, that provide answers to the following, will be shared: 1) What do students know in terms of basic library and technology skills when they first start college? 2) Are some students learning more, differently, or better than others? 3) Do students understand some tools better than others? 4) Are students retaining what we are teaching?