A systematic approach to performative and authentic assessment

Brandy Whitlock (Andrew G. Truxal Library, Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold, Maryland, USA)
Julie Nanavati (Research & Instruction, Loyola/Notre Dame Library, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Publication date: 15 February 2013



The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the learning outcomes assessment process and a five‐step, systematic approach for incorporating learning outcomes assessment into information literacy instruction. The paper focuses specifically on using performative and authentic assessments to measure higher‐level skills and ensure that students are able to perform the information literacy skills that library instruction programs intend to teach.


The authors reviewed current assessment literature from both the information literacy and instructional design fields and pulled successful examples from their respective institutions in order to provide an overview of how best to incorporate performative and authentic assessment into the information literacy instruction process. This also includes discussions of assessment terminology, tools, and strategies.


Engaging in learning outcomes assessment can be invaluable when performed as part of the information literacy instruction process. Following a systematic approach and incorporating tools that allow for performative and authentic assessment will enable librarians to successfully ascertain if students can do what we teach them to do.

Practical implications

This paper provides instruction librarians with a structured way to integrate learning outcomes assessment into their information literacy programs, and it includes an extensive exploration of assessment strategies and tools as they relate to fostering information literacy skills.


There is limited literature on the use of performative and authentic assessment in information literacy instruction. The exploration of a wide selection of possible assessment tools, specifically – their benefits and drawbacks – is especially valuable.



Whitlock, B. and Nanavati, J. (2013), "A systematic approach to performative and authentic assessment", Reference Services Review, Vol. 41 No. 1, pp. 32-48. https://doi.org/10.1108/00907321311300866

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