OLJ Blog post #3 Assessment of information literacy and inquiry learning

Blog post #3  Comment on the role of the TL in practice with regard to assessing information literacy and inquiry learning.


Assessment is an integral part of the teaching and learning process. Without it, there is no way for teachers to know whether their students need to be taught a particular skill, whether instruction is effective, or whether students have achieved what learning experiences are designed to enable students to do or know.  From this, teachers are then able to confidently report to parents, principals and other stakeholders and provide feedback to students. Assessing skills such as information literacy and the effectiveness of inquiry learning is equally as important as assessing content from key learning areas for this reason. Therefore, teacher librarians are just as responsible for assessment within their programs as classroom teachers.  The readings for this module highlight the varied methods of assessment available to teachers and teacher librarians, authentic assessment as a tool for assessing information literacy and the importance of working with classroom teachers through this process.

Stripling (2007, p. 26-28) provides a good description of diagnostic, formative and summative assessments in the context of the school library and argues that they are all important to different stages of the learning experience.  She has developed an inquiry model with six phases, and links assessments to phases.  Even without this specific model, diagnostic, formative and summative assessments occur in that order.  While classroom teachers may be able to provide some of this information to teacher librarians, especially in the beginning, it is important that the teacher librarian assess students within the context of the library, as students may not be able to transfer certain skills yet.

Summative assessments can be completed as part of a unit, with students working towards a final product to be submitted at the end of the unit. Mueller (2005) argues for authentic assessments, which are assessments that require students to apply skills to a real-world problem.  He writes that an example of this is a research paper, and argues that these are more helpful for measuring students’ skills than examinations.  In the context of information literacy, teacher librarians are able to assess students’ abilities to gather, sort and present information in this manner more effectively than an exam.  It would be beneficial for this to be linked to a unit students are learning in classrooms in order to assess information literacy skills rather than knowledge.

When assessing information literacy, it is important for assessments to be varied. While a research paper can assess a student’s ability to locate, analyse and organise information, a student could be placed at a disadvantage if their writing skills are not good enough to complete the task, or if they did not have enough background knowledge to begin at the same place as their peers.  Therefore, it is important that teacher librarians use many assessment techniques and judge students’ work against the outcomes they have set out to measure. Mueller (2008) provides a series of questions to guide teachers in writing assessments in order to ensure that assessments are valid.

Finally, the readings agree that teacher librarians should collaborate with teachers to include information literacy in curriculum, and provide a means for the library program to complement curriculum being taught in classrooms (Pappas, 2007, p. 21).



Mueller, J. (2005). Aithentic assessment in the classroom… and the library media center. Library Media Connection, 23(7), 14-18.

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

Stripling, B. (2007). Assessing informative fluency: gathering evidence of student learning. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 23(8), 25-29.