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Assessment Process or Cycle

Step 1 - Create student learning outcomes.

The learning outcomes assessment process doesn't work without learning outcomes to assess. Creating meaningful student learning outcomes is the first and fundamental step in the process. Information on developing learning outcomes for library instruction can be found at Creating Student Learning Outcomes.

Step 2 - Choose an assessment measure and set criteria

After you've developed student learning outcomes, you can consider which assessment measure/method you will use. There are a variety of easy methods that are particularly useful for one-shot library instruction sessions. Information on choosing an assessment method can be found at Assessment Methods.

Once you know what you want students to learn (learning outcomes) and how you want to measure it (assessment methods), you need to decide what would constitute successful learning for your students. You will choose a criteria for your measurement, e.g. 80% of students will be able to differentiate between a scholarly and popular journal, 70% of students will be able to identify a relevant book using the catalog. Choose a criteria that makes sense to you, knowing that you might adjust it after you see the initial results.

Step 3 - Implement the assessment

Your choice of assessment method will dictate when you do the assessment. Some methods, such as one-minute papers, are best done at the end of the instruction session. Others, such as bibliography analysis, can only be done after students have handed in their final product to the course instructor. Some methods, such as multiple choice tests, could be administered at the end of the library instruction session or several weeks afterward. Information on doing the assessment is included in the discussion of assessment methods at the Assessment Methods page.

Step 4 - Use assessment results

Learning outcomes assessment is meaningless if you don't use the results to improve student learning. Using the results "closes the assessment loop." Information on using assessment results is included in Using Assessment Results.

Step 5 – Report the Results

Report your results in the appropriate venue and format.

Additional Resources

Web Sites:

Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes (University of Maryland)

PDF Documents:

Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Developing Research & Communication Skills: Guidelines for Information Literacy in the Curriculum

Establishing a Role for Research Libraries in Learning Outcomes Assessment Programs


Angelo, Thomas. Classroom assessment techniques : a handbook for college. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, c1993.

Maki, Peggy L. Assessing for learning : building a sustainable commitment across the institution. Sterling, Va : Stylus, 2004.
MCK STACKS LB2366.2.M35 2004

Radcliff, Carolyn J. A practical guide to information literacy assessment for academic librarians. Westport, Conn : Libraries Unlimited, 2007.
MCK STACKS ZA3075.P73 2007