thing 20: Rubric-based Assessment



The Carleton College Information Literacy in Student Writing Project rubric was drafted before the Framework’s development, but its focus on habits of mind connects well to the Framework’s approach to information literacy. Additionally, the project demonstrates a high level of faculty involvement, exemplifying the Framework’s emphasis on making information literacy a shared campus enterprise.

After reading the article, post a comment responding to ANY of the following questions about how Carleton’s approach might inform your own efforts to incorporate rubrics into your assessment practice:

  • The authors describe how the library’s assessment efforts developed from connections to campus values and curricular initiatives. What teaching and learning-related programs, discussions, and initiatives on your campus might help inform your own assessment efforts?
  • The authors point out that rubrics are ideally suited for assessing students’ understandings or habits of mind, rather than skills. What are some of the concepts or understandings outlined in the Framework that you would be interested in assessing using a rubric?
  • A key to the success of the Information Literacy in Student Writing project is that librarians are able to access existing portfolios of student writing. Who might you be able to partner with to access student work for assessment?
  • Where can you see connections to the Framework in the rubric? What elements of the Framework might you address more fully in your own version of the rubric?


  1. All students at my institution must take a General Education Capstone course before entering their core or programmatic courses. This is a writing and research heavy class with multiple writing samples for each student. The requirements of each of their papers already aligns with the 3 main sections of the Carleton College rubric. The class covers attribution through learning about the importance of citations. Students in this course complete a library exercise about how to evaluate resources. They also learn to compose research questions as a way of communicating evidence. All of these elements should be present in their cumulative paper. I already work closely with the Capstone instructors at my university and I believe they would be cooperative in allowing me to view student work and apply this information literacy rubric.


  2. While reading Jastram, Leebaw, and Tompkins’ article, I was struck by the following sentence: “Rather than being a set of discrete skills, information literacy is a habit of mind that, once developed, will prompt students to discover gaps in their knowledge, act intelligently to fill those gaps, and think critically about information they find” (178). This reminds me of Thing 19 on metacognition. In this way, Carleton’s approach to rubrics may prove useful if I create a rubric of metacognitive statements in order to assess where students are in their awareness of how they learn, how they think, what they need, and if they understand when and how to rethink and then revise a search. It may prove useful to have the students fill out the rubric (and thus turn the assessment over to the students) to reflect on a list of metacognitive questions. The reading on rubrics has potentially given me a way to incorporate metacognition in my information literacy classes.


  3. The authors point out that rubrics are ideally suited for assessing students’ understandings or habits of mind, rather than skills. What are some of the concepts or understandings outlined in the Framework that you would be interested in assessing using a rubric?

    I must admit, using rubrics in assessment for the library isn’t something I have thought much about, although I use rubrics in my adjunct teaching. While I think you could probably assess any of the frameworks through a rubric, if an assignment was designed to test those skills, after reading the recommended reading this week I would be particularly interested in using a rubric to look at information has value and research as inquiry/searching as strategic exploration. I think a rubric could be used to try to determine how well students evaluated sources for value – especially with regard to who created the information and why. I also think a rubric could be used to look at how students found and used their sources. Does it look like they did one search and found the required number of sources and quit? Or does it seem like they looked for and used sources that were most appropriate to their argument and the type of information they needed for their particular assignment?

    It seems like making rubrics to assess some of these frames might be challenging, but could be really interesting. In addition, if the rubrics were well drafted they could be shared with students to help students better understand what professors and librarians are looking for in their work.


  4. Question—
    Where can you see connections to the Framework in the rubric? What elements of the Framework might you address more fully in your own version of the rubric?

    Upon examination of the rubric in the Appendix of the article, I see deep connections between several of the Frames and the Rubric’s “qualities”: attribution, evaluation of sources, and communication of evidence. One could point out that all of the Frames are included in these qualities, but the ones specifically highlighted include Information Has Value, Searching as Strategic Exploration, Research as Inquiry, Information Creation as a Process, and Scolarship as Conversation. In essence, the rubric has peele back the layers of these Frames to their very essential qualities and assigned weights to the qualities, thus creating a rubric.

    Right now, I am focusing specifically on Authority is Constructed and Contextual and Information Has Value within my library instruction. If I could build a rubric, it would focus on the qualities of these two Frames and assess student work for the knowledge practices and dispositions that accompany these particular Frames, ex. recognizing authoritative content found within different types of “containers” and understand intellectual property as a cultural construct that is navigable by attribution and their place within the intellectual property conversation.

    One thought that I had repeatedly as I read this excellent article was that if the article had been written even a couple of years later, ex. 2016, would “metacognition” have replaced “habits of the mind”? (Because as I read the article, it seemed as if the authors were trying to make the point that the rubric and its ensuing lessons were all about teaching the librarians and the faculty that students had not yet mastered the art/science of metacognition. (Just a thought.)


  5. A good person to partner with to access student work for assessment might be instructors with a specific set of students. The most useful work to assess would be from students who have had library instruction and are going to have (or could have) more library instruction in the next semester or two. This would help me see where students need a bit more of a push or more information. Looking at this work with the instructor would give additional insight, especially for disciplines I don’t have knowledge in.

    I would want to include more on “Searching as Strategic Exploration” in my rubric; I tend to find with a lot of first year students that they find the first “okay” item, but I am not sure if this is just my perceptions or something that actually happens. I would really like to see the range of types of sources students use and if this is actually something that I should be focusing on.


  6. I think I already have the beginning of a partnership where I could do a project similar to this The Masters of Nutrition program here requires all students to complete a capstone project before they graduate. I’ve been working closely with the director of the program guiding students in the writing process. One of the sections of their capstone is a description of their literature searches.

    I would be curious to see how they grasped the concept of Research as Inquiry. So far, the descriptions of the search processes have been somewhat anemic. Every entry focuses on one or two databases they searched without much reflection on identifying their inclusion/exclusion criteria or any filters they may have applied. Only one student even considered citation chasing as a method of finding literature.

    Through the literature review, I can see how well they used their hypothesis to formulate a search strategy and how well they evaluated the results of that search. A rubric could be helpful at assessing how well they understand the search process.


  7. I have the good fortune to be embedded in our undergraduate capstone course. I have the especially good fortune to have access to students’ early drafts. With this benefit comes the challenge of giving meaningful, timely feedback to so many students. The rubric could focus my assessment. Better focus would improve the quality and efficiency of my feedback .

    Actually the rubric is well suited to my situation. Students have challenges with attribution. They have to deal with the picky details at the same time as they are learning the basics of APA style (We have many transfer students.). The weakness categories would let me tease out the less interfering details (for ex. capitalization) from the more interfering fundamentals (for ex. missing journal titles).

    I could better see the patterns and tailor my feedback–both individual and global–accordingly. After all it’s more efficient to give global feedback on the most common issues and save the individual feedback for what is truly individual.

    The results would open up conversations with the instructors as well. An unscientific pilot test of a rubric might interest the instructors in helping me refine it.


  8. The question is how can we evaluate “a habit of mind” or, in the language of the Framework, Knowledge Practices or Dispositions? Or is this even possible? I believe Thing 23 will address this, but for the moment, I am asking the question again. Jastram, Leebaw, and Tompkins have addressed Knowledge skills with the idea of “Attribution” (“give credit to the original ideas of others”). And other skills can be measured in such as “recognizing issues of access or lack of access to information sources.” How can we evaluate dispositions such as “respect the original ideas of others” or “see themselves as contributors…..rather than only the consumers of it”?

    These questions stem from an exchange I heard recently, perhaps on Twitter. A writing teacher reported (or maybe it was one of the articles we read for 23 Things) that students are saying “my audience is a rubric” instead of thinking about the person or people who might read their work, even enjoy and learn from their work. With this in mind I want and need to make a rubric that is real and authentic to students lives.

    On page 181 of the Jastram, Leebaw, and Tompkins article, the authors provided the Writing Rubric they had used in their assessment of student papers. In a prior post (Thing 14: One-Shots & IL Courses) I discussed my struggles with using the Framework as a method to designing instruction. Also in Understanding by Design (Thing 13), we as instructors start with the Learning Objectives and with those objectives create assessment methods. I am a strong proponent of creating lesson plans that are real and immediately applicable to other school and life lessons and skills. All this being said to explain how I might try to assess the Frame “Information has Value” using a rubric.

    In no particular order, here is a set of Learning Objectives I can work with for the moment. And I stress, for the moment.

    -Students will be able to identify the intended audience of resources (blogs, articles, books) they have accessed in order to determine if it is appropriate for their particular project.

    -Students will be able to relate their work to other scholars and experts in the area that they have conducted research.

    -Students will be able to prepare/produce appropriate projects for the field they are conducting research in.

    -Students will be able to recognize when and why information is not available to people.

    -Students will be able to identify whose voice is being heard or ignored in different resources.

    How to establish a rubric around these themes that will still engage the students is the challenge.



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