Worksheets for Information Literacy

Today I had the pleasure of co-presenting a workshop on the basics of information literacy assessment with Amanda Click for Libraries Thriving. We presented at 8am and 1pm my time, with a good crowd attending each session.

I basically gave a brief overview of assessment while Amanda outlined the difference between assessment and evaluation and outlined the basics of evaluation. It was a very practical presentation; it was much more weighted towards things people could go into the classroom and do rather than theory.

That being said, one of the things I talked about was worksheets. I was slow to come to worksheets. I like technology. I don’t like creating waste. Worksheets seemed so high school. But now I teach with them more often than I teach without them. I use them in my credit bearing classes as a way to assess what they’re actually getting and to get feedback about what is still confusing. I use them informally in my one-shot classes to give them structured notes and give them the impression someone is going to follow up and see if they were paying attention.

And this is what one of those worksheets looks like:

Worksheet-children of divorce

If you would like to, you are welcome to download the one-shot worksheet and use/modify as you see fit.

In the case of this (and most) worksheets, I don’t include explicit instructions for every box. Students have to pay attention to understand, for example, the “database” and “journal” boxes at the top of the page are to provide brief definitions of the two. This worksheet is also structured around specific questions the faculty member wished for me to cover, so I only organized the content in a way that made sense; I didn’t create the learning outcomes for this worksheet. I have found this worksheet to be particularly helpful because the faculty member does have such specific requests. This way, if a student doesn’t seem to have the background she hopes they have, she can investigate whether they paid attention or not based on how detailed their worksheet is.

I use this type of worksheet for any one-shot class I teach tied to an academic course. I never even imply that I’ll take them up, but students fill them out as seriously as though I would. It’s a nice way to practice a bit of metacognition, too. Students have a sense of how much you’ll cover, what the arc of the class will be, and what they’ll be expected to do by the end of class–all by just scanning the worksheet ahead of time.

I also use worksheets in my credit-bearing classes as well. Here’s a sample from one:
worksheet lib100

In this case, I have some general note fields earlier in the worksheet, to guide the part of class that I was covering in a combination of lecture, discussion, and group work. This is the end of the worksheet and contains a single-person activity. Each student should be able to answer questions 10a-10j all by themselves based on the classwork we have done at that point in the semester.

The “Fuzziest Point” is used to capture anything the students would like clarification or more information about. As said in the workshop today, at this point my fuzziest points rarely represent a trend. Over time I’ve gotten to know what the challenging sections of the course will be for students and teach that content appropriately. Now the fuzziest point tends, more often than not, to be a student who wants to go above and beyond, someone who wants to know something that’s going to be addressed in a future class, or just a note to say everything’s clear. Since I used this worksheet in my own class, I do take them up, check for general accuracy, comment on the fuzziest point if there is a question, and distribute the worksheets back to students at the start of the next class. All in all, this has been the most radical improvement in my teaching since I first started, and in the beginning I resisted it because it seemed so old fashioned I couldn’t imagine it would work for these students! If you’re interested in this worksheet, you’re welcome to download the credit-bearing sample worksheet as well.

Thanks to all who came to today’s workshop(s)!

My name is Lauren Pressley. This is where I think out loud, document what I'm doing, and share the things that I like. I'm the Director for Learning Environments at Virginia Tech University Libraries and author of a few books. This blog focuses on libraries, education, information, & the internet. When not at work or blogging, I spend most of my time with John and our son, Leif.

5 thoughts on “Worksheets for Information Literacy

  1. Thanks Lauren, enjoyed the presentation. I am in the process of moving to a different types of assessments for specific classes. I have integrated a “one thing you liked” and “one thing you had trouble with” form with some of the classes I see more than once. I go over the questions and we discuss them at start of the second time we meet. really liking that one. For my intro classes (I primarily work with grad students) I am going to try and introduce a “quiz” at the end..hopefully in the next few weeks.

    I do have some faculty that bring in their own worksheets for the students which is great. I appreciate you sharing yours and I hope to gain some more insight.Thanks!

  2. Thank you for sharing these worksheets and the great workshop today! I had previously used worksheets a lot and grew disheartened at seeing them in the trash can later. I may have to consider using them again.

  3. GREAT overview of worksheets. We use them quite a bit in our online courses here at U. Michigan Dentistry. They are a very good way to focus students’ attention, find out if they met the learning goals, and (critically) to reduce grading time when we want to know about learning and applying facts (as opposed to, say, professional writing skills).

    Could you give the 2-sentence overview of the difference between assessment and evaluation, for those of us who weren’t at the session?


  4. Thanks for the kind comments, all!

    And sure thing, Emily! Evaluation is more focused on the quality of the class: the teacher’s presence, the instructional design, if the instructions given were useful. etc. Assessment is more focused on the learning: were the learning outcomes met? what is the student able to do because of their participation? etc. Of course, there’s some interplay–it’s difficult to assess learning with poorly designed assignments, but that’s the general difference.

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