The ACRL Framework for Information Literacy has ushered in a new era for theorizing, teaching, and assessing information literacy. The Threshold Achievement Test for Information Literacy (TATIL) was inspired by the following elements of the Framework:
- its description of the development of learners from novices to experts
- the interconnections and overlap among the frames that capture the complexity of information literacy
- the definition of knowledge practices as well as dispositions that educators can observe and cultivate among learners
- its responsiveness to evolving standards and practices in the information environment
- how it stretches us to ensure students develop metacognitive connections and a deeper engagement with information
The Framework provides a welcome impetus to pursue a new way of testing students’ information literacy. We have the opportunity to meet the desire among librarians and their colleagues in other disciplines to find out more about the how our courses and programs are preparing students to be skilled, reflective information users and creators.
The Threshold Achievement Team brings together the professional expertise, judgment, and observations of experienced librarians and professors on a national Advisory Board. The Board identified three inspired and innovative guidelines for test development. The first is to gain insight not just into student’s IL knowledge, but also their learning dispositions when faced with IL challenges. The situational disposition questions will address the characteristics that shape students’ approaches to information.
The second guideline is to group the Frames into four modules so that educators can decide to test students on a particular domain instead of administering a large test all at once. This approach enables educators to focus their assessments on the Framework skills and abilities they teach in their classes and programs. Each module allows instructors to make direct connections between students’ results and the content and techniques of their information literacy instruction.
The third guideline is to take advantage of testing advances made possible by modern web browsers. It is now feasible to build and score new types of questions. Using a variety of structured response formats, the test gets at concepts that are higher order thinking and more cognitively complex than definition and identification. These types of items also increase students’ engagement with the test, leading to test results that more fully represent student understanding.
TATIL offers a new tool for librarians and other test administrators who are gathering evidence of learners’ progression toward IL expertise. The themes that run throughout the ACRL IL Framework highlighting the importance of community, critical thinking, curiosity, and perseverance have shaped the approach taken by the librarians and other educators developed TATIL. Because of this inspiration from the Framework, TATIL tests facets of IL that have not been measured before and that will lead to new conversations among librarians and their colleagues throughout higher education about how to develop students’ information literacy.
Next up: Learn more About the Test.