» Information Literacy Assessment

The Association of College and Research Libraries Assessment Issues states, “Assessment is an ongoing process aimed at understanding and improving student learning.” The association also states that assessment is essential for the reasons outlined below:Monitor effectiveness for accountability

  • Better identify instructional practices
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of instructional practices
  • Measure student achievement: How much they know
  • Evaluate students' mastery of skills: What they can do.

Assessment is accomplished through direct and indirect evidence. Examples of direct evidence are standardized achievement tests and scoring rubrics. Indirect evidence examples are surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Both direct and indirect evidence are helpful for monitoring and improving student learning. The Leatherby Libraries uses the following evidence-based measures to continuously examine and advance the Library’s Information Literacy Program. 

Direct Evidence


The Leatherby Libraries administers the Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy Skills(SAILS) to incoming freshmen. The Project SAILS website provides the following description: “Project SAILS is a standardized test of information literacy skills, based on ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. This Web-based tool allows libraries to document information literacy skill levels for groups of students and to pinpoint areas for improvement.” 

SAILS tests the following eight skill areas:

  • Developing a Research Strategy
  • Selecting Finding Tools
  • Searching
  • Using Finding Tool Features
  • Retrieving Sources
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Documenting Sources
  • Understanding Economic, Legal, and Social Issues Surrounding the Use of Information

History of SAILS at the Leatherby Libraries

SAILS was first administered in Fall 2007 and Fall 2008 with small freshmen cohorts and, during Fall 2009 Orientation Week, with a larger freshmen cohort. SAILS is currently mandatory for all incoming freshmen. In 2010, students completed the assessment online either before arriving to campus or during the fall semester. SAILS allows the Library to gather multi-year trend data on students’ information literacy skills as they enter the university.

Pre & Post Testing

All sections of the Freshmen Foundations Course come to the Library for a librarian-taught information literacy session. Beginning in Fall 2011, pre-test and post-test components were built into eight FFC sections as a means of direct assessment. The 10-question knowledge test is modeled after the SAILS multi-choice assessment.

Indirect Evidence

Student Surveys

Students are asked to complete an anonymous “Library Instruction Evaluation Form” at the end of librarian-taught information literacy sessions. This includes FFC and subject-specific sessions at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The form requests student feedback on the librarian  and the instruction/presentation. Students also have the option to comment on a new skill learned. Results from these self-reporting surveys are converted into graphs for the academic year.

Student Survey Results

Faculty Surveys

To help assess the Information Literacy Program, surveys are sent to faculty who requested a librarian-taught subject specific session. The survey requests faculty feedback on the impact of information literacy sessions on students’ research, projects, or assignments.

Surveys are sent to  2-3 faculty members for each instruction librarian every fall and spring semesters. The faculty members are randomly selected. Survey results are provided to the Chair of Public Services, the librarian instructor, and the librarian’s supervisor.  

Information Literacy Standards & Best Practices

Last Updated: August 2011