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.

Searching as Strategic Explorationh

At its most basic, this frame boils down to "knowing how to find good sources." 

The conceptual underpinnings of this frame do not seem as strong to me as some of the others.  The authors of the Framework emphasize that searching is "nonlinear and iterative" and requires "mental flexibility", but is the fact that searching is complex and takes time really a threshold concept?  It seems more concrete than that to me, a basic lesson that one learns through the course of researching over time, rather than an "aha" moment that dramatically changes one’s perspective. This is reflected in the frame's knowledge practices, many of which are more concrete than the ones attached to other frames. Nevertheless, Searching as Strategic Exploration is where the heaviest concentration of what is taught by librarians (particularly in a one-shot sessions) is located, so it is a good addition to the Framework.

Searching as Strategic Exploration has a very strong connection to Research as Inquiry. Since Searching is about locating information and Research as Inquiry  is partially about using information, the two are inextricably linked.  First you develop a question/research need (Inquiry), then find information (Searching), then incorporate that information (Inquiry), then perhaps realize you need more information (back to Searching).  Plus, both frames are focused on research as an iterative process.

This is one of two cases where an existing standard was more or less turned into a frame.  That isn't meant to imply that it wasn't changed, because Searching as Strategic Exploration is substantially different from Standard Two (The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently).  Standard Two reads like a research roadmap--first go there and then do that.  Searching as Strategic Exploration still includes some specifics, like constructing search strategies and using different search languages, but places a lot more focus on searching as a process that requires flexibility and perseverance.  The frame's dispositions are especially nice and do a good job of expressing what librarians have always tried to teach students about searching.

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Learning outcomes that can be assessed through multiple choice questions.

Students will be able to recall information retrieval systems that are appropriate to their research topic/discipline.

  • Which of the following is a core database for discipline X?
  • Which of the following would be the best place to start your research on a topic in discipline X?
  • Is name of real or fake database a resource for discipline X? (true/false)

 

Students will be able to match database search options with their effects.

  • Which of the following would lead to fewer search results?
  • How would using feature X change your search results? (more or fewer)
  • Which tool in PsycInfo would help you find better search terms?

 

Students will be able to recognize how adding additional search terms will affect their search results.

  • Which of the following searches would lead to the fewest results?
  • If you began your search with global warming and then added on polar bears what would happen to your search results?

 

Students will be able to identify the effects of using quotation marks in searching.

  • What happens to your results if you put quotation marks around a phrase?
  • Global warming and “Global warming” are exactly the same searches. (true/false)

 

Students will be able to recognize how the boolean operators affect their search results.

  • What result does using the word ‘OR’ have in a search?
  • If you began your search with global warming, then added AND polar bears, what would happen to your search results?

 

Students will be able to indicate the correct definitions of keyword searching, controlled vocabulary, and natural language.

  • What is controlled vocabulary?
  • (Provide a definition) This is an example of which type of search language?

 

Student will be able to identify options for revising their search strategy.

  • Which of the following would be a good thing to do if you have too many search results?

Learning outcomes for worksheets or quizzes

In addition to the outcomes below, a worksheet or short assignment could easily be developed for any of the outcomes listed on the research plan rubric below.

Students will be able to differentiate between keyword searching, controlled vocabulary, and natural language.

  • Provide students with examples of search language that they must identify.
  • Ask students to select and explain which type of language they would use for a specific topic or in a specific situation.

 

Students will be able to describe common database search options  and how they affect their searches.

  • Ask students to list X number of ways they could use an interface to which they've been introduced to modify a search.

 

Students will be able to describe tools that can help them manage search results.

  • An assignment where students either report on a single tool for managing search results/citations or compares more than one.

Learning outcomes for longer assignments with rubrics

Students will be able to identify multiple parties that might produce information on their topic.

Students will be able to develop a list of useful keywords/search terms.

Students will be able to articulate a variety of  information systems appropriate to their research topics.  See this also under Information Has Value.

Students will be able to describe ways of limiting their search results and how those techniques relate to their research topic.

Students will be able to design a reasonable timeline for their searching activities.

Students will be able to assess which information systems are a good match for the research topic/assignment.

Students will be able to implement search language that is appropriate to the topic and information systems.

Students will be able to revise search strategy based on initial results.

Students will be able to exhibit flexibility and persistence during the search process. Also included under Research as Inquiry

Students will be able to locate a variety of source types/formats (or list specific resource types). 

Students will be able to locate information in a variety of information systems.

Students will be able to incorporate multiple/conflicting perspectives. See under Authority is Constructed and Contextual.

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