Exploring information literacy assessment: Content analysis of student prefocus essays

Jesi Buell, Lynne Kvinnesland

Abstract

Juggling the value of performance-based assessment of student information literacy competencies with the limited time and resources required to do this type of assessment remains an ongoing challenge for many librarians.

This article chronicles our initial foray into content analysis, a fairly labor-intensive methodology, but one which allowed us to examine student approaches to the research process as narrated in their own words in the form of a prefocus essay. Our goal was to gather data that would help to inform our university library’s information literacy curriculum. What follows documents our process, methodology, results, and lessons learned in order to aid those at other institutions in their assessment planning.

Colgate University is a selective, private liberal arts institution with an approximate student body of 2,900. The information literacy program is well-established, with an on-going presence in the Core Curriculum and First-Year Seminar courses, as well as frequent requests for library instruction in upper-level courses.

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