Assessment & Rubrics

June 22, 2012

This week, I finish up the 3 week ALA course on Teaching Information Literacy to College Students.  In reflection, I was doing everything pretty well (which speaks well to my experience and trial and error over the years!)  My two takeaways were:

  • The class message boards were invaluable to gain ideas, feedback, and support from peers.  Chatting back and forth really provides a richness to the experience!
  • Librarians are not expected, and do not do, assessment as much as we should. 

For Exercise #2, we were to use the idea of  presenting students with a “real-world” issue that they then have to research to find a solution (problem solving.)  Based upon that exercise, for Exercise #3, we were then asked to create an assessment rubric that gives points and appropriate feedback to the students.  Below the one I developed.  Students were to find 3 types of resources and evaluate them according to the criteria stated below.


















Primary Resource

Source not a primary resource or not confirmed as a real source

Source is a primary resource but only tangential to the topic

Source is a primary resource and on topic

Source is a primary resource and a perfect match to both topic and need



Scholarly Resource

Source is not a scholarly resource

Source is a scholarly resource, but is only tangential to topic

Source is a scholarly resource and is on topic

Source is a scholarly and peer-reviewed resource



Book Resource

Book is not appropriate for topic

Book is only tangentially related to topic

Book is appropriate for topic

Book is considered one of the most significant works on the topic











Author not confirmed

Author confirmed but has limited status in the field

Author confirmed and credentials appropriate

Author is considered an expert in the field




Source is not on topic  for thesis

Source is on topic, but potentially not useful for thesis

Source is topical and of probable use for thesis

Source is considered one of the most significant articles on topic




Source is not appropriately current for the topic

Source could be used, but greater currency would be needed for sufficient research

Source is appropriately current for topic

Source is determined to be the most current research for the scope of the topic



Although this may mean more work for the librarian, this can be really valuable for the student.  If done correctly in partnership with the teaching faculty, not only will students understand what is expected of them, but the librarian and faculty will get a better idea of the students’ understanding of the instruction.

This resonated with me:  In my experience, we often do a “quick and dirty” introduction to students and do not have time to get into real information literacy.  Having a closer and ongoing relationship with departments and faculty can help us to be partners in weaving IL into the curriculum, without taking too much time away from learning the subject at hand.  For me, it would be useful to know what library instruction strategies work, and what needs more attention.

Keeping the focus on student learning, and putting yourself in the students’ shoes is imperative.  Many of my fellow librarians have great ideas and know all the ins and outs of their subjects and their databases.  However, many of the exercises fell into the “too complicated or complex” area and could increase student information anxiety. 

In information literacy, we need to:

  • Figure out what students need to know for the immediate need;
  • Find creative ways to translate that need into something that will resonate in library instruction;
  • Give the students hands-on time to try things on their own, and;
  • Do some sort of assessment so that students know quickly and can correct faulty logic.

Doing a rubric is one example of assessment, and can be extremely informative to student, teacher, and librarian.  It takes some time to get the wording correct, but it provides a framework for scaffolding the learning and improving work as time goes on.

If you teach students in a library setting, try taking one of your exercises and create a rubric for it–it really makes you think about what the student should know and do by the end of the session.  Even if you don’t use it, it can help you to focus on the purpose of your lesson.


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