Information literacy and assessment

 There are several reasons why you should assess (Webb, J & Powis C. 2004):

  • To support and improve the quality of learning
  • To encourage the development of skills and abilities
  • Different forms of assessment can be used to develop a wide range of skills within learners.
  • To give feedback, help and guide learners. Learners can see what they have done correctly and well, and also what they have done less well. Most importantly, feedback can change behaviour either immediately or at a later date, or both. 
  • To give success or failure, give a mark
  • Learners need to know how they are doing and tangible measurement through assessment is valuable. Assessment is the only way we can test whether the learning outcomes have been met and the most recognizable way for learners to see that they have achieved what was expected of them.
  • To motivate learners
  • Use assessment to encourage learners to work through and complete an activity or series of activities, it helps to form and embed the learning experience
  • To find out how effective teaching has been

There are a number of different assessments that can be used (Webb, J & Powis C. 2004a) :

  •  Bibliographies
  • On-line tutorial with a series of activities with a quiz /  test at the End
  • Case studies
  • Diaries and logbooks
  • Discussions
  • Essays
  • Mind maps
  • Multiple choice questionnaires
  • Portfolios
  • Practical assessment
  • Presentations
  • Projects
  • Quizzes
  • Worksheets

As you can see assessment comes in all shapes and sizes however it is important to check that you:

  • Know what you want to measure
  • Ensure the assessment is in the best format to do this
  • Ensure that what you are measuring is important (2004b)
  • Ensure that the assessment is valid, reliable, efficient, fair and set assessments that the learners will value (2004c).

IFLA guidelines for information literacy assessment  reinforce the above and state that the most important question to ask is:

  • What am I trying to assess? 
  • What students have learned, or how participants feel about their own learning?


Three types of learning assessment, each used for a different purpose:




Prescriptive or Diagnostic – assesses the knowledge and skill of participants before the instruction is designed. These can take the form of standardized or instructor developed tests, auditions or review of a student’s prior work.


Formative – provides feedback about student learning while the instruction is ongoing and allows the instructor to adjust teaching methods during a course. For example, require students to write a one page ‘reaction paper’ to a reading assignment, or prepare an annotated bibliography of research materials several weeks before the research paper is completed.


Summative – a final evaluation of the criteria for assessment, occurs at the end of instruction, i.e. multiple choice question, essays given  under controlled conditions, or an evaluation of citations used in the student’s research paper or a portfolio review.


There are a number of publications and articles pertaining to information literacy and assessment including:

Neely, Teresa Y. Information Literacy Assessment: standards-based tools and assignments. Chicago: American Library Association, 2006.


Walsh, Andrew. Information literacy assessment: Where do we start? Journal of Librarianship and Information Science (JOLIS) 41 (1) March 2009


Webb, J & Powis C. Teaching information skills: theory and practice. London: Facet Publishing, 2004, Chapter 7 Assessment


Other publications and articles that you may find useful are:


Andretta, Susie. (2005) Information literacy; a practitioner’s guide. Oxford: Chandos Publishing.







Webb, J & Powis C. (2004) Teaching information skills: theory and practice. London: Facet Publishing, p131-133

Webb, J & Powis C. (2004a)Teaching information skills: theory and practice. London: Facet Publishing, p139-143

Webb, J & Powis C. (2004b) Teaching information skills: theory and practice. London Facet Publishing, p138

Webb, J & Powis C. (2004c) Teaching information skills: theory and practice. London: Facet Publishing, 2004, p134-135



































Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *