Information Literacy Assessment at
Vermont Technical College
Vermont Technical College teaches courses at Randolph Center, Williston, Brattleboro, Bennington, and through the Nursing Extended Campus which provides distance education to Vermonters all over the state. The distributed nature of the college’s instruction, as well as the diversity of its curriculum, present challenges to both information literacy instruction and assessment.
Instruction primarily occurs in conjunction with first-year English Composition classes, specifically ENG 1043, ENG 1060, and ENG 1061. These sessions occur during writing lab time, generally for a total of four class periods. Sessions include a library tour, and instruction on finding and evaluating books, articles, and websites. Librarians work closely with English instructors to address such issues as plagiarism, developing a topic, and citations. Associate’s-level nursing students receive two hours of instruction in the Principles and Practices of Nursing course. The unexpected success of the college’s modified version of the Texas Information Literacy Tutorial (TILT) has made development of an online instructional program a priority.
The distributed nature of the college’s instruction has made online testing the best option for information literacy assessment. Students take the online assessment through the college’s BlackBoard course management system. The assessment tests students on their understanding of the concepts embodied in the Vermont State Colleges Information Literacy Graduation Standard. Questions were designed and tested for validity during a pilot conducted in 2004. The test is approximately 28 questions long, is primarily multiple-choice in format, and requires students to visit websites, evaluate resources, and use analytical skills to answer questions. Each of the four components of the standard are tested through a bank of several questions, giving students several avenues to demonstrate competency. The passing score is 75%, a level designed to ensure competency across each of the four components. The assessment is held in week eight of the semester for Allied Health students. It is held in week 14 for students in English Composition.
The Blackboard system facilitates the capture of scores from the assessment. These scores are then sent to the registrar who records pass/fail data in the students’ records. During academic advising each semester, students are advised of their status in regard to the Information Literacy Graduation Standard. If they have failed the assessment or did not take it, they have the opportunity to take the information literacy tutorial, attend small-group or individual instruction sessions, and retake the test.
The Assessment Pyramid: From Standards to Question Design
Another example, using the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education:
Standard: The information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system
Performance Indicator: The information literate student articulates and applies initial criteria for evaluating both the information and its sources.
Outcome: Examines and compares information from various sources in order to evaluate reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness, and point of view or bias
Question: Which of the following four books would be considered the best source to use for a college research paper on the phenomenon of UFOs?
Title: UFOs Among Us
Author: Jim Munch
Author Information: Jim Munch is a celebrated journalist and the author of Alien Agenda and the New York Times bestseller Crossflight. He lives in Texas (from the publisher).
Title: The Pursuit of UFOs
Author: Brenda Barnstable
Publisher: University of California Press
Author Information: Brenda Barnstable received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Duke University and is an Associate Professor at UCLA (from the publisher)
Title: Evidence: The Case for UFOs
Author: Mike Taylor
Publisher: Terra Entertainment
Author Information: Mike Taylor’s first aspiration in life was to become an astronaut. In 1969, Mike witnessed a UFO along with hundreds of other witnesses at a ski area in Burke, Vermont. After this experience, Mike remained a UFO enthusiast, never living in doubt of the phenomena that has swept the world since the Roswell incident in 1947 (from the author’s website).
Title: Evidence: The UFO debate in the United States
Author: David Michael Brownberg
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Author Information: David Michael Brownberg is a Professor Emeritus of History at Notre Dame University. He earned a PhD. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1948 (from Contemporary Authors Online).