Hello and happy Halloween, fellow ARLISians!

It’s the season for all that is eerie, unsettling, or even downright terrifying, so we thought for October’s blog post we’d address a topic that can send many instruction librarians into a cold sweat:


We all know that assessing our teaching is vital so that we can improve both our instruction and our programs, but in a frequently difficult to control landscape of one shots, while we’re also working on designing and executing our sessions, putting together a workable, meaningful assessment plan can feel like sticking your hand in the mystery box at the end of a haunted house.

That said, assessment doesn’t have to be scary! To try to make it a bit more approachable, those of us on the blog team decided to assemble a few of our favorite resources on assessment. We hope these help you turn your teaching horror movie into something with a happy ending.

Anna Boutin-Cooper

Accardi, Maria T. “Feminist Assessment.” In Feminist Pedagogy for Library Instruction. Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press, 2013.

  • This chapter provides an excellent framework for folks looking for a more feminist, less capitalist approach to assessment within the library classroom. The appendices provide concrete examples of assessment used by Accardi in the classroom, providing concrete elements to the theory and rationale outlined in the chapter.
Image from ALA Store.

Booth, Char. “Chapter 12: Reflect.” In Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning: Instructional Literacy for Educators. Chicago, IL: American Library Association, 2011.

  • This chapter, explicative of the fourth step in Booth’s four step instructional method called USER, details assessment in its varied forms. Booth’s approach is that assessment should occur across the entire learning experience – from the planning stage to the post-instructional stage. The chapter offers plenty of ideas for formative assessments, summative assessments, and confirmative assessments, and additionally provides justification for including assessment within one’s own instructional practice.

Carol Ng-He

Crash Course in Assessing Library Instruction, a 4-week course at Library Juice Academy 

  • Description excerpted from the website: This class is intended for teaching librarians who have some classroom experience and would like to explore different assessment techniques in library sessions, such as one-shots. Using Kirkpatrick’s Levels of Evaluation as a framework, we will discuss how to identify what you want to know and how to match your assessment need to the appropriate assessment technique, and practice assessing student artifacts using a sampling of methods. Instructors: Candice Benjes-Small, Head of Research at William & Mary Libraries, and Eric Ackermann, Associate Professor, Head of Reference Services and Library Assessment at Radford University.
Image from Library Juice Press.

McCartin, Lyda F., and Dineen, Rachel. Toward a Critical-Inclusive Assessment Practice in Library Instruction. Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press, 2018.

  • Overview: Grounded in the work of Paolo Friere and bell hooks on critical pedagogy, the book outlines the assessment processes for library instructors.

Eva Sclippa

Image from ALA Store.

Gilchrist, D., and Zald, A. “Instruction & program design through assessment.” In C. Cox & E. Lindsay (Eds.), Information Literacy Instruction Handbook (pp. 164-192). Chicago, IL: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2008.

  • At 11 years old, this one is a bit outdated–it references the ACRL Standards rather than the Framework, for instance–but the assessment chapter is still a really great introduction to assessment concepts and practices. Whereas the Practical Guide (below) would be good for a deeper dive, Gilchrist and Zald’s chapter is a great, brief, accessible overview and tool. The chapter does a great job outlining and separating out the ideas of assessment of student learning, assessment of the information literacy program, and assessment of the teaching and growth of individual librarians. It also explains the differences between grading, assessment, and evaluation, as well as critical assessment terminology, such as formal vs. informal, authentic, integrated, formative/summative, and more. I particularly appreciate this chapter because, in addition to helping walk readers through the process of developing learning outcomes and connecting their assessment to them, it also considers assessment as a reflective practice. The authors include guidance for closing the loop by using assessment to change and improve as a teacher, as well as to evolve and shape an information literacy program.
Image from Amazon.

Radcliff, Carolyn J., Mary Lee Jensen, Joseph A. Salem, Jr., Kenneth J. Burhanna, and Julie A. Gedeon. A practical guide to information literacy assessment for academic librarians. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2007.

  • Though this one is of a similar age, it is ideally targeting towards those looking for practical guidance on the building blocks of assessment. It has a particularly strong focus on tools, with separate chapters for each potential assessment tool that include a brief profile of the tool to help librarians determine if it would be best suited to their needs. Every chapter’s profile heading indicates time involved, necessary funding, whether it’s most appropriate for classroom, programmatic, or institutional assessment, the domain, issues to access to participants, potential issues with faculty collaboration, and how much outside expertise might be needed. There are nine chapters on individual assessment tools and techniques, ranging from informal assessment to portfolios.

Toolkits & Open Access Resources