thing 23: Assessing Dispositions


As discussed in previous things, the Framework does not include learning outcomes, allowing librarians more flexibility to tailor assessment efforts to their local environment. Each frame of the Framework also includes dispositions, “which describe ways in which to address the affective, attitudinal, or valuing dimension of learning.” How can we address this component of learning in our assessment work?

Instead of offering a reading to get you started thinking about this, we’ve invited some librarians to record a short video sharing their thoughts & experiences about assessing affective learning:

These videos were recorded in response to two questions:

  1. Why is it important to assess learners’ dispositions, attitudes, or habits of mind rather than focusing exclusively on skills and behaviors?
  2. How have you approached assessing learners’ dispositions or affective learning in your own assessment practice?

See below for Ellysa Cahoy and Bob Schroeder’s responses in conversation with each other, and visit Flipgrid to see videos from Ken Liss and Kim Pittman.

To see Ken and Kim’s videos with captions, follow the links below:

Question 1 (videos with captions)
Question 2 (videos with captions)


Record your own video (up to 90 seconds):

  • Responding to one of the of the questions above
  • OR in dialogue with one of the video responses already posted
  • OR sharing your ideas/inspiration of how you plan to incorporate affective learning into your assessment practice

We’d love for your responses to be in video format, but if you’re feeling shy, feel free to respond in the comments below.

Questions about how to use FlipGrid? Contact Amy Mars, or check-out FlipGrid’s support site.

Thanks to the following librarians who contributed their thoughts on assessing dispositions!

  • Ellysa Cahoy, Education and Behavioral Sciences Librarian and Assistant Director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book at Penn State University and co-author of “Embedding Affective Learning Outcomes in Library Instruction” published in Communications in Information Literacy
  • Robert Schroeder, Education Librarian and Associate Professor at Portland State University and co-author of “Embedding Affective Learning Outcomes in Library Instruction” published in Communications in Information Literacy
  • Ken Liss, Head of Liaison & Instruction Services at Boston University and team leader of an Assessment in Action project focused on information literacy habits of mind
  • Kim Pittman, Information Literacy & Assessment Librarian at the University of Minnesota Duluth, 23 Framework Things co-creator, and (full disclosure) author of this post

One comment

  1. This is a fascinating topic. I’m an adminstrator with a public library background. Whenever I undertake an assessment of anything, I need to ask myself what I intend to do with the information I accrue. Will it guide me to make changes? Will it document/validate effort made? Will it provide me with what I need to make a compelling case for funding? Does the assessment give me (create) the information I need in a format I can use?

    Public librarians in Minnesota, because of some state funding, are often asking their author tour audiences things like “This program was paid for with state dollars, so we need to assess its impact, on a scale of 1-5 how much new information on the topic did you gain?” And of course the survey results produce the answer “lots!” (I’m not giving a real example, and of course we do try to do the best job possible, but you can see the cunundrum. It is hard to truly assess when everyone being assessed can predict the desired answer.)

    And when I complete an assessment, whether as a student or in any role, I ask myself how will my answers be used? Who will see them? Are they an opportunity for constructive feedback? What value do they have? How honest do I want to be? How much time should I invest? I think we should always be aware when assessing affect that people are filtering their behavior and attitudes, and that what we perceive or conclude are attitudes and mindsets might not be actually so.

    The set of videos so far is very interesting in that the presenters convinced me that affect does impact an ability to learn, but once affect is assessed by an instructor, are there follow up tasks? Is it the role of the librarian to take actions that place the student in a better frame of mind to learn? Is there a need to adapt the instruction based on the assessment of the affect of the class? Is this as informal as being aware of whether or not the whole class just needs a stretch break or that the lesson plan has lost its relevancy and needs a refresh? What is the purpose of assessing affect?

    And so, the importance of assessing affect: because when we assess student affect well, it helps us teach effectively because_______

    I’m not sure I heard the speakers directly address that blank.

    Thing 23 gave me a lot to think about. I thank all the presenters and organizers.



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