Assessing Information Literacy and Inquiry learning

Blog Task 2

Write a 500 word reflective piece which demonstrates your understanding of the role of the Teacher Librarian (TL) with regard to this aspect of TL practice:

Assessing Information Literacy and Inquiry Learning.

Information literacy and inquiry learning assessment is conducted to find evidence of the learning impact on the student and to inform educators about their students’ progress so they can take action to assist in the learning process.  Assessment, in this context, is not the same thing as evaluation.  Assessment is ongoing and formative, an integral part of the Inquiry Learning process, and it may take a range of forms in order to assess the range of skills and abilities being developed in this process.

Assessment is not just an evaluation exercise at the end of the unit of work. It is authentic and valuable if it incorporates real problems that require the students to utilise and build knowledge and skills (Mueller, 2005).  In planning the units of instruction, it is vital that the instructional team work together to incorporate the assessment into the learning process (Oakleaf et al, 2011).  The elements of the assessment cycle they need to consider include: what they want to assess, how they want to assess it, what tasks best suit these aspects of assessment, how the results inform the team for intervention strategies, articulating what has been learned and identifying necessary resulting actions (Warmkessel, 2007).

There are four essential elements to plan for in the assessment process. These elements are ensuring tasks are included that: inform the students of their progress, that inform their instructional team on their progress and their needs, infusing the assessment throughout the inquiry learning process and ensuring the way it is used is integral to the teaching and learning process(Harada and Yoshina, 2004, cited in Kuhlthau, 2007).  Kuhlthau (2007) stresses the importance of this integrated formative assessment so that it can provide prompt feedback to the students and inform the instructional team of the need for modelling, guidance and instruction at critical intervention times.  The range of learning types in inquiry learning all need to be considered to provide relevant feedback.  These learning types include curriculum content, information literacy, ‘learning how to learn’, literacy competence and social skills (Kuhlthau, 2007) and they would need a range of assessment techniques to adequately assess them.

No single assessment task would assess the full range of skills and abilities of the students so a range of formal and informal tasks should be incorporated that address specific outcomes and performance measures.  These could include tasks such as pre and post-tests, portfolios, course embedded assignment tasks, reflective tools such as essays, journals and wiki entries, student interviews, online surveys, observation by the instructional team and the use of SLIM (School Library Impact Measurement) questionnaires amongst other things (Sheerman, 2011, Warmkessel, 2007).  It is essential that the tasks have validity and measure what they are intended to measure (Mueller, 2005) and that the instructional team has strong observational skills to notice when a learning need arises (Scheffers, 2008).  Kuhlthau stresses the importance of collecting assessment information that reveals student thinking to help the assessors see the thinking behind the performance and gauge whether deep learning is taking place (2007).  Rubrics, particularly those with student input,  contribute to this process as well, making students aware of the standards and the priorities of the task.

The integrated nature of good assessment will really only be successful when the members of the instructional team have been involved in planning the unit of work from the start of the project and programming the assessment to suit. Thus the teacher librarian needs to work collaboratively with his / her peers to plan and carry out the unit.  They also need to work in collaboration with the students to adequately assess their learning and provide support where necessary.


Fitzgerald, L. (2011). The twin purposes of Guided Inquiry: Guiding student inquiry and evidence based practice. Scan, 30(1), 26-41.

Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L., &  Caspari, A. (2007) Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century. Libraries Unlimited Inc. Westport, CT, USA.

Kuhlthau, C. (2002) Teaching the Library Research Process.  Scarecrow Press Inc. Maryland, USA.

Kuhlthau, C.K. (2010). Building Guided Inquiry Teams for 21st-Century Learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5),18

Mueller, J. (2005). Authentic Assessment in the Classroom and the Library Media Center. Library Media Connection, April/May 2005, 14-18

Mueller, J. (2007). Assessing Skill Development. Library media Connection, November/December 2008, 18-20

Oakleaf, M., Millet, M.S., & Kraus, L. (2011). All Together Now: Gatting Faculty, Administrators, and Staff Engaged in Information Literacy Assessment. Libraries and the Academy, 11(3), 831-852.

Pappas, M.L. (2007). Tools for the Assessment of Learning. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 23 (9), 21-25

Scheffers, J. (2008). Guided Inquiry: A Learning Journey. Scan 27(4), 34-42

Sheerman, A. (2011). Accepting the Challenge: Evidence based practice at Broughton Anglican College. Scan 30(2), 24-33

Warmkessel, M.M. (2007). Information Literacy Assessment. Public Services Quarterly, 3(1/2), 243-250. Doi: 101300/J295v03n01-22

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