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Information Literacy Assessment Toolkit: Framing Assessment

PALNI's Information Literacy Assessment Toolkit

Best Practices for Info Lit Assessment

Assessment Best Practices
The content outlined on this tab details information that should be in place prior to assessing your institution and/or information literacy program.

  • Assessments should align with learning outcomes (class and/or program) and instructional strategies (Carnegie Mellon University).
  • Assessment "requires attention to outcomes but also and equally to the experiences [instructional design] that lead to these outcomes" (Brown University).
  • Curriculum mapping "presents a visual representation of the library's information literacy instructional outreach which can be used to evaluate relationships between current practices, the academic curriculum and intended learning outcomes" (Buchanan).
  • Student awareness, rubrics, and past student work is beneficial. 
    • Make students aware of the assessment tool(s) prior to instruction but after they have been made aware of the learning outcomes (McTighe and O'Connor).
    • Present evaluative criteria, such as a rubric, and models of past student work of varying qualities prior to and during the instructional process (McTighe and O'Connor).
  • Assessment is most effective when the program supporting it clearly aligns with its institutional mission (Brown University).
  • Assessment "works best when it is ongoing not episodic" (Brown University). 
    • One-shot assessment is better than no assessment.  However, tracking the learning of individual students or a cohort of students is most transformative.
  • Pre-assess for a baseline (McTighe and O'Connor).
  • Provide feedback "early and often" (McTighe and O'Connor; Bowles-Terry and Kvenild).
    • Emails to faculty and/or students, instructional videos, LibGuides, and follow-up library sessions are examples of feedback.
  • In addition to providing feedback and following up with students and faculty, disseminate the results to those responsible for making change by closing the loop.

Framing Assessment

getting started by framing assessment

Framing Assessment
"The quality of student learning is directly, although not exclusively, related to the quality of teaching.  Therefore, one of the most promising ways to improve learning is to improve teaching" (Angelo and Cross).

Assessment reveals what students have learned; instruction supports learning.

  • Two considerations prior to the assessment of information literacy, for example, are learning outcomes and curriculum mapping
  • Clearly defining student learning outcomes within the context of a curriculum provides shape and direction for assessment leading to meaningful, transformative results.

student learning outcomes

Writing Outcomes
Learning outcomes can be written both for individual classes/class sessions, and for your student body as a whole. Zald & Gilchrist offer this helpful advice for writing effective learning outcomes:

designing outcomes grid

Selecting Verbs
To select appropriate verbs, consider using verbs based on Bloom's Taxonomy.  This "learning model [focuses on] the notion that learning presumes to occur in this linear and hierarchical fashion. That is, relatively simplistic learning ...must necessarily occur before learners can engage in more sophisticated and creative learning" (Netl).

A chart listing many ideas for verbs, using Bloom's Taxonomy, is available here:


For a Specific Class
Below are learning outcomes written by Goshen College for a first year class orientation session
Good Library. "Proposal for Library Involvement in ICC/LC -- 2017-2018." Goshen College, 

For the Entire Student Body
Learning outcomes written for the entire student body are much larger documents and generally involve a structure such as a table. Below are several examples.

IL_Learning Outcomes_First_Year_Tier 1 (Google Docs)
IL_Learning Outcomes_First_Year_Tier 1 (Word)
IL_Learning Outcomes_Tier 2 Sophomore-Junior Year Tier 2 (Google Docs)
IL_Learning Outcomes_Tier 2 Sophomore-Junior Year Tier 2 (Word)
IL_Learning Outcomes_Tier 3 Senior & Capstone Year (Google Docs)
IL_Learning Outcomes_Tier 3 Senior & Capstone Year (Word)

If you use these, please add a credit line or footnote: “Adapted from California Lutheran University, Pearson Library.”

considerations for curriculum mapping

Curriculum Mapping
"Bullard and Holden...outlined the following steps for curriculum mapping a discipline: review the degree requirements for your course of study; analyze individual courses and identify existing information literacy concepts and areas of weakness; create a draft of a curriculum map showing areas of existing and potential information literacy; request a meeting with faculty with whom you have good relations to share your results and get their feedback; and then begin marketing your ideas ot the rest of the department" (as cited in Archambault).

One very unique and interactive curriculum map was created by Claremont Colleges using Mindomo software.

Most other curriculum maps are done in a table format.



Curriculum Map


Example Curriculum Map (Google Docs)
Example Curriculum Map (Excel)
Blank Curriculum Map (Google Docs)
Blank Curriculum Map (Excel)