UT Arlington Library's instruction program embraces best practices by assessing the impact of instruction on student learning. The evidence provided through assessment identifies which curricula are successsfully meeting student learning outcomes and which curricula require revision.
Formative vs. Summative Assessment
Assessment of information literacy instruction can be either formative or summative. Formative assessment takes place in the library classroom and measures students’ immediate comprehension of instructional content. Depending on the evidence gathered through formative assessment, the librarian may change the activity, clarify key concepts, or provide supplemental instructional content to the course instructor.
Educators use summative assessment to measure whether students have met established learning outcomes and conduct this assessment at the end of an instructional intervention. For examples of summative assessments of information literacy instruction, see Information Literacy Instruction Projects at UT Arlington Library.
Authentic vs. Standardized Assessment
Data related to the development of students’ information literacy skills is often gathered through standardized tests (e.g., Project SAILS and ETS’s iCritical Thinking Test) or pre- and post-instruction tests. Although these measures can provide instructors with valuable information, they do not measure students’ application of information literacy skills within authentic situations. Librarians and faculty achieve greater insight into whether students are learning and applying the critical thinking skills necessary to meet course-related learning outcomes through authentic assessment, which measures student learning through the examination of real-life student work. Through the application of rubrics that operationalize information literacy skills and student learning outcomes, it is possible to determine whether students are able to utilize the higher order thinking skills inherent in the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education.