#Rhizo15 week two: brief thoughts on assessment

As librarians, we often use the one-shot method for library instruction, that is, one class period workshops of library resources and search technologies. I am not personally convinced that this one-shot method is the best way of conveying “information literacy” to our students.  One might also conclude that we have not done the “necessary” in terms of assessment to demonstrate the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of the one-shot method for making our students smarter and more information-capable in the information age.

Where is there time for assessment in one-shot instruction? There is no time. But assessment can be built into instruction exercises, just as critical pedagogy can be built in. For example, in a MOOC course I am taking, multiple choice quizzes are built right into each unit sub-section, both to reinforce the information being conveyed and to “report back” the degree to which the information is being received/absorbed.

I’m not an anarchist, and I don’t believe assessment should be thrown out the window completely. But I do think that it can be embedded in the learning material, like navigation is embedded in a website, so that it is unobtrusive, and perhaps, even more effective for the student and for the teacher.

p.s.  The final frosts of the season killed my squash, cucumbers, watermelon and cantaloupe. My fault for planting too soon.  Here in the mountains Mother’s day marks the end of the final frost.  The potatoes and carrots and all the greens (collards, kale, beets) survived.  So it’s off the Lowes  to buy new seeds.  And dandelions, yes, dandelions.  We need some rhizomes in the garden!

4 thoughts on “#Rhizo15 week two: brief thoughts on assessment

  1. 🙂 I guess that makes me the anarchist that you are not. I think that multiple choice questions can be useful for things that are ‘true’ or ‘not-true’. But in order to create multiple choice questions, you need to decide, for all students, what the right answer is going to be. When I think of becoming information literate as just that – a process of becoming. That process is going to be different for everyone and will lead down different paths. For all the standards and systems in librarian studies, the librarians i have met and been in meetings with are by no means unanimous about what ‘being information literate’ is. Quite the contrary. People feel VERY passionately about very different positions. The danger of thinking of things like literacy as ‘information to be conveyed’ is that you need to reduce something that is inherently complex to something that is simple in order to make it be answer B. on a question sheet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree there is nothing foolproof about multiple choice questions, and in my critped-infused library instruction there are no right answers, only suggestions and navigation aids. The main learning subjective is that the student can return to the library on his/her own, design a research project, and obtain the pieces of information they need to fulfill that project. I think we are on the same page. But for my money, anarchy is for rich spoiled kids, not god-bless-the-child scrappers like me.


  2. I try not to think of assessment as something separate from the learning. Ideally it is just a feedback loop. You can get feedback in many different ways. The problem I have with built-in quizzes (like the MOOC you describe) is that they are perceived by the learner as assessments separate from the learning. How can you build a feedback system into the learning process that provides feedback to the learner and the ‘teacher’ (using that term very broadly)? Or how can you build the learning and feedback directly into the process of them accomplishing their library tasks?


    • Building the feedback system directly into the learning process is the goal. It reinforces the learning subjectives AND informs the process itself. It’s an important element I’ll strive to incorporate in library instruction. Thanks.


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