Assessing Student Learning

Why is assessment important?

  • it gives you the opportunity to reflect upon and improve your teaching in a meaningful, data driven way
  • it allows you to communicate your impact on student learning to others with numbers

Assessing your Instruction Session

There are a number of assessment tools you can implement during a one-shot instruction session. Your choice of tool should depend on what you’re looking to uncover about student learning, how much time you have, and how you plan to use your data. You will likely choose to use different assessment methods for various teaching situations.

Integrate quick assessments into your session

  • Three Things You Learned: At the end of the session, ask students to write down on an index card three things that they learned. After the session, you can review these cards to find out if you met your goals.
  • Muddiest point: At the end of the session, ask students to write down on a piece of paper what they found most confusing. You can use this feedback to devise new ways to discuss those confusing points, or address the points immediately.
  • One-minute paper: At the end of the session, give students one minute to write what they learned. You can use this feedback to measure how well you met your goals find out if there are any concepts that you might need to revisit.
  • Index card assignment: When students arrive for the session, give them index cards and ask them to write down three questions they have about the library or about research. Collect those index cards before you start the session. At the end of the session, read the questions and have the students answer them. You will find out if they learned what you set out to teach them or if they had any questions you did not address during the session. This is also a way of combining evaluation and active learning.
  • Google Forms for active learning: If students will be completing an active learning task, have them record the results in a Google Form. Debrief the results with them during class and/or assess their responses later to find out how they constructed knowledge during the session.

Fixed-Choice Tests

  • Online polls: use a tool like Qualtrics, SurveyMonkey, Poll Everywhere or a Google Form to have students submit responses anonymously and live in the classroom. You will have the results after the session to reflect upon.
  • Pre- and post-tests (quizzes): Create a quiz that addresses the areas you will cover during the session. Copy it on both sides of a sheet of paper. At the beginning of the session, have students take the quiz. When they are through, tell them to set it aside. At the end of the session, ask students to turn the sheets over and take the same quiz again. They will immediately be able to see what they learned, and so will you when they pass it in. Save time to go over the correct answers during class. If you do not have time, make sure that students are given a handout or a follow-up email with the correct answers.

Sample quiz questions can be found here

Performance Assessments

More in-depth assessment requires that you have a good working relationship with a course instructor or faculty member. These methods take more time, but can give you an authentic assessment of how students apply the concepts you covered. Some examples of in-depth, collaborative assessments are:

  • Check sources: Offer to check the works cited lists with or for faculty. By checking the works cited list, you will find out if students implemented any of the skills you taught in the session.
  • Faculty feedback: Ask faculty to give you feedback on student learning. A few weeks after the session, after they have completed an assignment, email or call faculty and ask if they noticed a difference in assignment quality. Sample Email
  • Student research log: Ask faculty to require that their students keep a research log. Offer to review the log for faculty or to do the review together. Sample Research Log (
  • Additional Assignments: Create a course-specific assignment that students must complete and turn in after the session. Offer to create a rubric with or for faculty that can be used to assess learning and assign a grade. Be sure to follow up with the class on any problem areas you discover from these assignments.
  • Artifact Collection: Ask a faculty member to share student work with you so that you can see how they integrate information into their writing.