Thursday, November 29, 2012

Booknote: Collaborative Information Literacy Assessments

What follows is my short review of the book as I posted it on my GoodReads profile. I did take some notes out of the book of concepts and ideas I wanted to remember, and I am including some of those after the review. I will say that I often found reading this book a bit more useful than some of the sessions from the Library Assessment Conference I attended back in October. I will grant that some of the reason may just be my learning style: I am a textual learner, and I do like reading at my pace to reflect and figure things out. On the other hand, well, let's not digress further.

Collaborative Information Literacy Assessments (Information Literacy Sourcebooks)Collaborative Information Literacy Assessments by Thomas P. Mackey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What can I say? Like many of the LIS books that I read, this had some parts that I found more useful than others. For a book like this I am looking for the following: clear explanations of how things were done; if possible, samples of worksheets, instruments, guidelines, etc., and how well can something be replicated or adapted to my situation. Practicality over just theory is what I need. Overall, most of the pieces offered in this book were practical, although in some cases, they were a bit heavy on the stats and not enough on the how something was done part. Don't tell me "we got a team together, we talked about it, and poof, assessment happened." What did you talk about? What kind of questions did you ask? What instrument or product came out? Those are the things I honestly want to know. Also, at times, some of the situations and campuses seem on the ideal side. Apparently, faculty and librarians get along splendidly in these places. I am fortunate I have some receptive faculty here to get some things done, but I have been in places where that is way far from the norm. I do not know if that is just a shortcoming of the book or the profession at large. I mean, there is a lot in the LIS literature about the difficulties librarians encounter in trying to implement IL and work with faculty (solutions, well, that is so-so, but I don't think it is hopeless).

The part I found most useful for me was the chapter on student self-assessments. I like the idea of putting more of the learning in the student hands and making them have a stake in the process. I did photocopy that chapter for later reference. I also took some notes from other chapters that I will add to my blog for later reference as well.

Overall, it is a pretty good book. I think library folks in academic libraries seeking to learn about assessment will find some good things here, but I do not think this is the definitive book on the topic. Just one of others we should be reading if interested in this topic. As usual with this kind of book, you may not need to read it cover to cover. Find the parts that you need and read those. The book does contain pretty good introductions that give a sense of what specific chapters are about, so you can decide what parts to read in full, what to skim, and what to skip.

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 Selected notes I took from the book: 

How the University of Auckland defines information literacy: 
". . . a way of thinking and being that encompasses identifying, accessing, evaluating, organising, and communicating information relevant in all learning environments and fields of endeavour" (29). 

Possible survey question (for students): "As a result of this degree, my mastery of information sources and methods of information gathering is improving" (46).

Some  lessons on faculty and librarians collaborating on integrating information literacy into the curriculum and classes. This is from chapter 3 in the book:
  • "First, integrating library sessions with course content is essential. Students respond more positively and learn more when the collaborating faculty mutually reinforce course goals, and when information literacy course material is tangibly connected to other course material graded assignments" (80). 
  • Second, partnerships between library and academic department faculty must go beyond separate development of course objectives and assignments. Students respond and learn more when all course materials and activities interrelate. In practice, this means the faculty involved should prepare syllabi and plan class sessions and assessment instruments jointly" (80). 
  • Finally, assessment of information literacy skills among undergraduate college students must be as varied as the skills themselves. Instructors will receive valuable information through indicators of student perceptions about their research skills, student-reported measures of time spent on assignments and types of information resources accessed, and analysis of student papers" (81). 
From chapter 5, which deals with assessment for adult learners. (For me, reminder that this article and this other one may be relevant and of interest to this topic as well).  Why online learning is useful for adult learners:
  • Helps them be more independent as learners. Provides conditions to be reflective and confident as learners. 
  • Flexible learning approach highlights student role of taking responsibility for his own learning. 
  • A flexible online program can make instructor aware that students are at different stages in terms of confidence and experience with technology. 

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