In March, at the ACRL Conference in Portland, Carrick Enterprises sponsored an exhibit booth. Rick, Carolyn, and their colleague Paula McMillen fielded questions about the Threshold Achievement Test. Many librarians from institutions as varied as chiropractic colleges, state universities, and community colleges from across the country expressed interest in taking part in the field test scheduled for this fall.
The field test will generate data that we’ll use to set criteria for scoring the test and will give us the chance to analyze individual items. It will give the participating institutions a snapshot of their students’ information literacy knowledge practices and dispositions.
But the discussions at the booth weren’t all business. Attendees also got to take a Facebook-style quiz to reveal which of the IL frames best matched their personality. If you missed your chance to take the quiz and find out if you know yourself, your friends, and the Frames as well as you thought you did, then plan to stop by the Project SAILS, Carrick Enterprises booth at ALA in San Francisco at the end of June. And as you check out everyone’s name badges, look for their Threshold Achievement Test stickers that proclaim their Frame.
February has been a pivotal month for the Threshold Achievement Test, as we've transitioned our focus from defining Information Literacy concepts and dispositions to bringing those concepts to life as test items. The item writing taskforce spent February drafting our first ideas for test questions and we took steps toward identifying a workflow for the process going forward. Thanks to the dedication of volunteers from the advisory board we’re getting the chance to try out many types of test questions and many ways to gather evidence of students’ IL knowledge, experiences, and values. The item development process will continue throughout March.
Also in March, Rick Wiggins and Carolyn Radcliff, along with other representatives from Carrick Enterprises, will be sharing news and answering questions about Project SAILS and the new test at the ACRL 2015 Conference in Portland, OR. Rick will be available to provide additional updates on the next steps in our test development, including preliminary plans for identifying colleges and universities that are interested in beta testing modules of the new test as early as fall 2015. If you think you might be interested, stop by the exhibitor booth to learn more or contact Rick. We hope we’ll see you in Portland!
We’re pleased to hear that on February 1, the ACRL executive board voted to file the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. This decision confirms the value of our efforts to envision a new approach to assessing students’ information literacy. The richness of the Framework and its alignment with librarians’ ongoing efforts to engage information literacy’s deep questions and troublesome knowledge, serve as inspiration to our advisory board as we advance to the next stages of test development. At the same time, we are glad that a final decision about the future of the Standards will be made at a later date, once librarians in the field have had ample opportunity to apply the new Frames and fully explore their strengths and limitations. We see our test development efforts as one facet in this wide-ranging project of investigating the affordances of the Framework.
In January, the advisory board studied the final version of the Framework. We found that the performance indicators and outcomes that we drafted in the fall closely matched many of the concepts described in the Framework. Reviewing the frames again inspired us to organize our extensive lists of indicators into core components of our key IL concepts. After further refining our lists of information literacy practices and dispositions, we defined four modules for development.
A taskforce of advisory board members formed to write test items that will take advantage of HTML 5 capabilities to experiment with a variety of innovative item types. If you’re looking for more information on innovative item types, you’ll find that Christine Harmes, Cynthia Parshall, and Kathleen Scalise have developed helpful taxonomies. The item writing taskforce is now engaged in the iterative process of writing items and performance indicators. Based on what we learn from the process of writing our first module and doing preliminary usability studies with our early item prototypes, we will begin writing items for the three remaining modules in the spring.
We're really excited about our latest progress and we're looking forward to updating you again soon!
Happy New Year!
In December, despite the hectic pace of the end of the semester, the Advisory Board reviewed lists of knowledge practices and dispositions that we created throughout the fall. This review was the next step in our process of defining the elements of information literacy that this new test will assess.
At our meeting on December 19, the Board discussed how the draft Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education can guide our decisions about the behaviors, knowledge, and values we’ll ask students to demonstrate on the test. Advisory Board members are now working in small groups to further refine our definitions and prepare the guidelines we need to have in place in order to start writing test items in February.
This month we also made a major step forward in the process of selecting a name for the new test. Watch this space for exciting announcements!
At ALA MidWinter in Chicago we expect to hear that the Framework for IL in Higher Education has been finalized and our Advisory Board members in attendance at the conference will be meeting face to face (some of us for the first time).
We’re looking forward to having a fantastic 2015! We hope you are, too.
In November we made significant headway in our test development. One essential component of designing a test is defining the concepts/skills we’ll assess and identifying the levels of performance we’ll expect to see students demonstrate. Since this will be an assessment of undergraduates’ IL, we’re drafting plans for a test that will differentiate among students at a beginning level (at or near entry), an intermediate level (at or near completion of lower-division coursework), and an emerging expert level (at or near completion of a bachelor’s degree).
The Advisory Board generated lists of the IL skills, concepts, and dispositions that we have observed among college students throughout their education. We organized those observations so that they fit into the 6 frames of the latest draft of the ACRL Framework for IL in Higher Education. This provided us our first model of how students’ IL changes as they encounter the threshold concepts at the heart of the 6 frames. We will continue to refine our model and use it to guide our development of test items beginning in early 2015.
We have also added details to our plans for using innovative item types that take advantage of the flexibility that’s possible in computer based testing. Innovative items can include images and offer alternative response modes so that we can increase the fidelity that the questions have to students’ research experiences and gauge their knowledge practices and dispositions in ways that have not been possible with traditional multiple-choice questions. For example, innovative items might use an image of typical search results and ask students to select a set of appropriate sources given a specific information need. Determining our full range of item types is the next phase before we begin writing items.
Finally, in November, we began discussions with an expert in educational adaptive technology. We are using resources like Web Accessibility in Mind to incorporate elements of universal design at this early stage of planning for test item types and response systems.
We’re looking forward to a busy winter as we conclude our planning process and begin test development. I’ll keep you up-to-date with another post soon.