Information Update - Spring 2005

Information Literacy Assessment

Since December 2003, the Weinberg Memorial Library has worked to identify ways to evaluate the information literacy skills of University of Scranton students. The Library’s goal for students is that they be able to meet the world as information literate persons. Traditionally, the librarians presented “how to do research in the library using our resources.” Less attention was given as to whether or not the student actually had learned the information and whether or not they were retaining that information from the time it was taught, mostly during their freshman year, to the time of their graduation. This issue also faces other academic institutions. Dr. Terrence Mech, King’s College Librarian, recently approached Dean Charles Kratz with a proposal to administer an Information Literacy Assessment (ILA) for the purpose of sharing assessment data among local libraries. The assessment would also help us to refocus our current Library Instruction program to an Information Literacy Program. King’s College obtained the ILA from Maryville College in Maryville, TN but has revised it several times as a result of a factor analysis performed by the King’s Library faculty. The ILA is comprised of 25 multiple choice questions that relate to one or more of the Association of College and Research Libraries Information Literacy Competency Standards (
Katie Duke, Coordinator of Information Literacy for the Weinberg Memorial Library, recruited classes, and Library faculty and the Planning, Assessment, and Institutional Research Office (PAIRO) staff administered the ILA during the first two weeks of the fall semester. 275 freshmen from 18 sections of Freshmen Seminar and two Freshmen Nursing sections took the ILA. The basic premise was to administer the ILA to freshmen students before they participated in library instruction to determine what information literacy skills they brought to the University. The focus of the assessment is not limited to just library related skills but also assesses information literacy skills taught in other disciplines. Later during the fall 2004 semester, 217 seniors in a variety of majors took the same ILA. Students were informed that the ILA was completely voluntary and confidential. The time for completing the assessment was 30 minutes but most students turned in their papers after 15 to 18 minutes.
Once completed, Dr. Bonnie Thomas-Sharksnas, Assessment Analyst, PAIRO, analyzed and generated a report comparing the data. The information gathered from this initial ILA will be considered baseline data since the freshmen and seniors are from different cohorts. Future expectations are to administer the ILA to incoming freshmen and then post-test the same students as seniors. This will allow a direct comparison of skills. Six questions were identified as being the primary responsibility of the Library. The first report generated by Dr. Thomas-Sharksnas dealt with those six questions, the differences found between freshmen and senior answers, and the explanations for those differences. Currently the report is being reviewed by Weinberg Memorial Librarians for feedback.
Katie Duke and Charles Kratz