Blog 2 – ETL401 Teacher Librarianship – Topic: Assessing Information Literacy and Inquiry Learning

Reflecting on the subject matter and readings to date, my understanding of the role of the Teacher Librarian (“TL”) in assessing information literacy (“IL”) and inquiry learning is set out below.

Information Literacy

There is some conjecture as to what IL actually is and how it is defined. Michael Eisenberg argues that IL “is the set of skills and knowledge that allows us to find, evaluate, and use the information we need, as well as to filter out the information we don’t need (2008, p. 39) and this is why it is difficult to assess. Nevertheless, however it is defined; IL is a vital 21st Century skill where “information and technology affects every person in every possible setting” (Eisenberg, 2008, p. 39) so being able to identify strengths and weaknesses is imperative. Assessing these skills are challenging because they are difficult to effectively measure (Mueller, 2008, p. 18). Assessing analytical skills rather than actual knowledge requires planning and TL’s play a pivotal, collaborative role in this regard.

Inquiry Learning

Similarly, “inquiry learning is about using students existing knowledge, skills and values as the basis for further learning. Students are encouraged to reflect on their issues and concerns, to generate their own questions and use these questions to guide the investigation” (Phillips, 2004). Again, it can be difficult to assess these skills and concepts without observable standards as they are not tangible skills that are as easily recognised as in a standard test paper (Muller, 2008, p. 18) and the input of the TL is imperative in the compilation of observable standards.

Accordingly, in order to asses IL and inquiry learning specific observable and measurable standards and authentic assessment tasks are necessary (Mueller, 2005, p. 14 & Mueller, 2008, p. 18) and ideally these should be shaped by the TL and classroom teachers collaboratively working together. Students must also have authentic opportunities to prove their skill proficiencies across of a number of different tasks to show that these skills can be applied across a range of different situations (Mueller, 2008, p. 19). Furthermore, Barbara Stripling maintains that students must not only know these skills but be able to apply them to other situations and tasks and this is why three types of assessments are necessary. Diagnostic, formative and summative authentic assessments are much more effective than isolated evaluations (Stripling, 2007, p. 26) as students may demonstrate their proficiency in different ways (Mueller, 2005, p. 16). Furthermore, Mueller describes authentic assessment where students have opportunities to complete authentic tasks that demonstrate “meaningful application” (2005, p. 14).

***

In conclusion, IL and inquiry learning can and should be assessed through developing meaningful goals and standards (Mueller, 2005, p. 15) and providing authentic situations within which students can demonstrate the application of these skills and knowledge. TLs and teachers working collaboratively to set observable standards and building evaluation rubrics together is an effective process to evidence IL and inquiry learning outcomes (Brown, 2008, pp. 16-17) so it is crucial that TL’s have a role in the construction of observable standards.

References

Brown, C.A. (2008). Building rubrics: A step-by-step process. Library Media Connection.

Eisenberg, M.B. (2008). Information literacy: Essential skills for the information age.
DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28( 2), pp. 39-47.

Harada, Dr. V.H. (2004). Action research: How teacher-librarians can build evidence of
student learning. SCAN. 23(1).

Mueller, J. (2008). Assessing skill development. Library Media Connection.

Mueller, J. (2005). Authentic assessment in the classroom … and the library media center.
Library Media Connection.

Phillips, B. (2004). Teaching for learning and curriculum continuity, Teaching for learning
in SOSE, Studies of Societies and Environment.

Stripling, B. (2007). Assessing information fluency gathering evidence of student learning.
School Library Media Activities Monthly, 23(8).

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