Information Literacy Assessment

The purpose of this guide is to provide a starting point for those who need to assess information literacy student learning outcomes, particularly those working with the new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.

Information Creation as a Process

How and why an information source is made, and how it is made available (distributed), is really important. 

In the past, we've talked a lot about source type and format.  This frame recognizes that new technologies (particularly the internet) have made discussions of format a lot more complicated.  Yes, scholars still publish journal articles, but they may also tweet or blog.  So Information Creation as a Process is pushing us to look at the process of creating information from the research to writing/creating to revision/editing to publishing, rather than just the finished product (the book or article or or webpage or comment).

One of the frame's dispositions is "resist the tendency to equate format with the underlying creation process."  I struggle with that directive even though I'm a librarian.  The problem is that evaluating a source's creation process requires a lot more background knowledge than learning some basic rules about common formats.  The key characteristics of a scholarly journal article can at be introduced, albeit shallowly, in a few minutes.  Imagine trying to teach students all the steps that a scholar in the sciences would have had to go through from the beginning of the project to getting it published as a scholarly journal article!  There is funding, collaboration, research question, methodology, IRB approval, lab or fieldwork, revision, submission, etc.  I think, therefore, that at the lower undergraduate level librarians and faculty are still mostly going to be teaching format, to provide students a foundation that allows them to move on to a more sophisticate understanding of the processes that lead to those formats.

Information Creation as a Process has a strong connection to Authority is Constructed and Contextual, because they both focus on the social context in which information is created and because both are important to evaluating sources.  The idea of research as a process also appears very strongly in Research as Inquiry, Scholarship as Conversation, and Searching as Strategic Exploration.

Most of the ties between the Standards and Information Creation as a Process come under just two performance indicators:  Standard One, Indicator 2 (on "types and formats") and Standard Three, Indicator 2 (on evaluating sources).

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Learning outcomes that can be assess through multiple-choice questions

Students will be able to match common formats with identifying characteristics of their creation processes.

  • Which of the following is usually written by professionals to be read by other professionals in the same field?
  • Which of the following is a common way for scholars to publish their research?
  • Which of the following is usually reviewed by a professional editor?
  • Which of the following would you be able to edit?

 

Students will be able to identify general characteristics of the creation processes of different formats or a specific format.

  • Which of the following is the best description of a wiki?
  • Which of the following is an important characteristic of how a newspaper article is made?
  • Newspaper articles go through peer review. (true/false)

 

Students will be able to identify strengths/weaknesses of specific formats/creation processes.

  • Which of these sources is the most likely to be up to date?
  • Which of these sources is the most likely to give you an overview of a topic?

 

Students will be able to recall key aspects of the scholarly creation process.

  • Which of the following is a type of research done in discipline X.
  • Which of the following would you find in the methods section of a scholarly article?
  • Which of the following is the best definition of peer review?

 

Students will be able to identify formats that include peer review.

  • Which of the following sources would have been peer-reviewed? (could provide either a list of source types or, for a more difficult question,  a list of citations)

 

Students will be able to connect format/creation process to a specific need.

  • Which of the following would be a good source to start with if you were looking for background information on a topic?
  • Which of the following would count as a primary source?
  • Which of the following would most likely provide statistics on topic X.

 

Learning outcomes for worksheets or quizzes

Students will be able to describe the peer-review process (or editing process).

  • Ask students to list the steps in the peer-review process.
  • Ask students to compare academic peer-review and editing and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each system.
  • (graduate or upper-level undergraduate) Have students submit to a peer-reviewed conference or journal.  Have them describe the steps of the process and their impressions of it.

 

Students will be able to discuss a particular information source’s creation process and how it impacts it usefulness (or perceived value) for a particular project (or in a particular social context).

  • Provide one or more sources and a context/topic.  Ask students to evaluate each source based on what they know or can find out about its creation process.
  • Provide multiple sources on a topic.  Ask students to rank them from the one they would most likely use to the least, based on what they know about each one's creation process.

 

Students will be able to explain the role of publishers in the creation process.

  • Assignment where students compare examples of traditionally published sources and self-published sources.
  • Provide students with a source and ask them to list the steps it would have taken to have it published.

 

Students will be able to compare and contrast informal online publication formats with traditional print formats.

  • Have students complete a table what compares characteristics of a mix of print and online sources (review process, time to publication, who creates, etc).

 

Students will be able to list common aspects of the creation process in discipline X.

  • Ask students to list examples of research methods used in a specific field.
  • Assignment where students list and describes the sections that commonly appear in a scholarly article in a specific field.
  • Provide students with a specific research method.  Ask them to describe it and list the steps a researcher/scholar would have to take to complete a research project using that method.

 

Students will be able to discuss what creation processes are valued in discipline X (or in a particular social context).

  • Assignment where students discuss the the roles played by conference papers, journal articles, books, etc. in a specific field.
  • Assignment where students compare the creation process of the media (e.g., newspaper articles) with the creation process for scholarly work.  Why are they so different?

 

Students will be able to discuss the purpose/point of view/bias of specific sources.

  • Provide students with several sources on the same topic.  They need to identify the bias/point of view of each.  Some may be obvious, others might require the students to research the author or information from the source.
  • Assignment where the students must find sources to represent multiple points of view/biases on a topic.  They should justify why they selected the ones they chose.

 

Students will be able to summarize the features of the most common web domains and how that impacts the sources found on those domains.

  • Assignment where students rank a number of domains from the most to least reliable and provide reasons for their order.  It could either be in general, or related to a specific topic.
  • Provide students with some example websites to review.  Do the sites fit what students expect based on the domain?  Why or why not?

Learning outcomes for longer assignments with rubrics

Students will be able to describe potential formats/creation processes that would be appropriate to their research topic.

Students will be able to evaluate potential sources based on aspects of their creation process/format.

Students will be able to evaluate potential sources based on their purpose/intent/bias.

Student will be able to select sources whose formats/creation processes are appropriate to the research topic and assignment parameters. This outcome is very vague as written because the types of formats/creation processes that are considered appropriate varies so much between disciplines and assignments. I imagine that this outcome would include issues like  popular vs scholarly, primary vs secondary, general (like reference works) vs specific, emerging vs traditional delivery modes, and factors that are specific to a certain discipline.  Ideally the outcome and the rubric criteria would be adjusted to clearly define what is considered appropriate for the particular assignment.

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