Teaching Services

The Language of Assessment

  • What is the overarching purpose of this class? => Learning Goals
  • What do I want the learner to be able to do? => Outcomes
  • What does the learner need to know to do it? => Curriculum
  • What activity will help the learning? => Pedagogy
  • How will the learner demonstrate the learning? => Assessment
  • How will I know the learner has done this well? => Criteria


International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Guidelines for Information Literacy Assessment (2004)

The most important question to ask is, "What am I trying to assess?" Do you want to know what students have learned, or how they feel about their own learning?

Assessment of students' feelings about instruction can take the form of questionnaires or focus groups. However, these techniques do not evaluate learning, though they are often mistakenly used for that purpose.

There are three types of learning assessment, each used for a different purpose. See below for more information.

What Does This Look Like?

Select the major assessment criteria and break it into smaller components. These units not only clarify your assessment criteria but should also be the basis of curriculum design.

Here is an abbreviated example:

QUESTION FOR ASSESSMENT: Can the students incorporate appropriate journal articles into their research papers?

CRITERIA: Can students create a useful search strategy?

  1. Do they have sufficient language to develop effective keyword searches?
  2. Do they understand Boolean operators and use them?
  3. Do they understand controlled vocabulary and use it?

CRITERIA: Can the students locate appropriate journal indexes?

  1. In print?
  2. Online?

CRITERIA: Do students select peer-reviewed articles for their research?

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