Assessing information literacy and inquiry learning

Information literacy or information fluency is the ability to access, makes sense of and use information to build understanding in personal and academic learning situations (Stripling, 2007). Assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning (Kuhlthau, Caspari & Maniotes, 2007).
Diagnostic assessments or pretesting of student’s ability provides a base from which more information can be added to as required. Stripling (2007) provides several examples of this which can be used from primary school to secondary school. The information can be used to design lessons that build on what students already know.
Formative assessment measures the knowledge and skills acquired during the learning process. This enables adjustments to be made to maximise the students learning. The assessment methods may include conferences, observation and student journals indicates what has been learned and what hasn’t (Kuhlthau, Caspari & Maniotes, 2007).
The summative assessment or evaluation indicates what the student learned and achieved. One method of evaluation is by the use of rubrics. The holistic design will list certain characteristics, which when combined with represent a standard of excellence, often in dot points. The analytic design will include levels of performance and will be used to assess the processes and content specified within the criteria of the rubric (Brown, 2008). The rubrics may take time and effort but may well be more useful to student and teacher. The rubrics, taken over time, will indicate the development of the student’s learning.
Rubrics can be set on standards such as those by the American Association for School Librarians, or International Society for Technology in Education or standards set by your own country or state. The rubrics should focus on the process and the outcomes ( Brown, 2008). The depth of the evaluation will depend on whether analytic or holistic rubrics are used. Brown has examples of several rubrics available for very young researcher to secondary school researchers.
Other methods of evaluation include observation, performance, products and tests. SLIM, Student Learning though Inquiry Measure, was designed specifically for Guided inquiry.
Whatever method of assessment is used, Stripling (2007) suggests that there should be simple guidelines such as stating explicitly the information skills that student are expected to learn, defining clear criteria for successful application of information fluency skills, ensuring that the skill being taught are essential and integral to the assignments and will enable student to assess themselves.
Kuhlthau, Caspari & Maniotes, (2007), explained that, in a survey of teams of teacher and librarians using a guided inquiry method of teaching and assessing, they noted an improvement in the students’ learning. It was also noted that the learning was richer and deeper and more personalised.

Brown, C.A. (2008). Building rubrics: A step-by-step process, Library Media Connection, January, 16-18. Available
Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2007). Assessment in guided inquiry. In Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century (pp. 111-131). Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.
Stripling, B. (2007). Assessing information fluency : Gathering evidence of student learning. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 23(8), 25-29.


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