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Using rubrics to assess information literacy

Lorrie A. Knight (University of the Pacific, Stockton, California, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 1 January 2006




The purpose of this paper is to report the results of an assessment study of undergraduate students' achievement of information literacy learning outcomes in a first‐year research and writing course.


The object of the assessment was a group of bibliographies compiled by the students. The librarian and other faculty members created a scoring rubric based on course learning objectives and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. The rubric was used to score the bibliographies to determine the students' levels of mastery of the objectives, their use of library‐licensed vs freely available web sources, and differences among the classroom learning environments.


The paper finds that students' academic work is a useful gauge of their achievement of information literacy‐based learning outcomes. A rubric is a valuable assessment tool that provides a reliable and objective method for analysis and comparison.

Research limitations/implications

Research in assessment offers libraries the opportunity to measure their contribution to the educational missions of their institutions. As there is no “one size fits all” in assessment, it is important to explore and publish a variety of assessment approaches to expand this area of knowledge.

Practical implications

The results of this study led to certain changes in the library's delivery of instruction. Dissemination of the results may also prompt more widespread acceptance of the role of information literacy in higher education. Other libraries may find additional applications for this assessment approach.


This paper contributes to the base of empirical research about library instruction, information literacy, and assessment using the ACRL Standards. Although other information literacy rubrics exist, there is a shortage of publications that report the results of their application to student academic work.



Knight, L.A. (2006), "Using rubrics to assess information literacy", Reference Services Review, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 43-55.



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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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