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First Year Student Information Literacy Assessment: Preliminary Results

The Libraries Department of Education and Outreach, in partnership with the Office of the Campus Writing Coordinator, recently completed the first phase of the "First Year Student Information Literacy Assessment" project, funded by the DUE Assessment Grant Program. The primary goal of the project is to assess the information literacy levels of incoming first-year students and to measure learning that occurs during theInfoLit first year, when librarians instruct them in library research as a component of their lower-division writing courses.

During the first phase of this project, the Libraries surveyed incoming students at the beginning of the 2010-11 academic year (777 respondents) and repeated the survey at end of the same year (463 respondents). The initial results indicate:

  • Students at the end of the year rated various writing and research activities as slightly more difficult than incoming students. Our interpretation of this slight increase in perception of difficulty is that incoming students are more confident in their abilities based on high-school level writing, while exposure to the more complex college-level writing and research assignments slightly reduces their confidence.
  • Library instruction at this level emphasizes the use of the libraries' catalog to find library materials, using electronic indexes to locate scholarly information, and finding the full-text of journal articles. At the end of the year, students reported much more experience with these types of activities, and a greater percentage reported that they were very easy or somewhat easy to use. We view this as evidence of the positive impact of library instruction on these critical skills.
  • Students at the end of the year also tend to do better on an assessment of information literacy skills such as identifying the appropriate source to use for various types of information, which again can be viewed as evidence of the success of library instruction and the lower-division writing program.

Dr. Jonathan Alexander, Professor of English and Campus Writing Coordinator, summarizes the initial results this way, "The Libraries' assessments of information literacy parallel our direct assessments of student writing, showing us specifically where students are facing challenges in the writing and research processes. Working collaboratively on assessment is a wonderful prelude to thinking together about how to meet our students' literacy needs."

For more information, please contact Cathy Palmer (x44972 or cpalmer@uci.edu), Kevin Ruminson, Acting Assistant University Librarian for Administrative Services (x4440 or ruminson@uci.edu), or Dr. Jonathan Alexander, Professor of English and Campus Writing Coordinator (x47397 or jfalexan@uci.edu).


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