Debrief: Information Literacy and Assessment Webinars

Westerner and Arab practicing geometry
By Anonymous painter,15th century (Cahiers de Science et Vie No114) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This post originally appeared in the Instructor College Blog hosted on

In late February and early March 2010, Instructor’s College hosted a three session webinar series on information literacy and student learning assessment.  The first session defined assessment and offered a theoretical framework to illustrate the assessment design and planning processes (see flowchart), while the latter two sessions applied this framework to real-life scenarios.

assessment planning flowchart

The assessment process begins with the development of an intended outcome which informs the other steps in the assessment cycle.  So - the outcome - once developed - helps instructors identify appropriate assessment criteria and measures, ...Which helps instructors seek (and gather) meaningful and relevant data, ...Which instructors can then use to make meaningful and relevant changes to their curriculum. Since well-stated outcomes are uber-essential in the assessment process, much of the second session focused on the writing of effective outcome statements.  To help with the writing, the instructors promoted this ' order to...' authoring formula:

action verb + why

Over the three sessions, the two key takeaway points for library instructors are (I think):

  1. Assessment is a continuous process that begins with a well-stated outcome.
  2. Outcomes should be specific.

The following two documents provided the contextual backdrop to the sessions:

  1. The AAHE's 9 Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning, and
  2. The ACRL's Characteristics of Programs of Information Literacy that Illustrate Best Practices.

Both documents offer excellent best practice recommendations for the assessment of student learning and the development of information literacy programs.