Use what you have: authentic assessment of in‐class activities

Toni M. Carter (Libraries Reference Department, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Publication date: 15 February 2013



The purpose of this paper is to share a practical approach to formative, authentic assessment of Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) outcomes within individual sessions of course‐integrated information literacy. This method does not require extra class time and assists librarians in modifying their teaching techniques to improve student learning.


By implementing authentic assessment of worksheets already integrated into library instruction sessions, librarians measure student learning of ACRL outcome 2.2.b “identify keywords, synonyms, and related terms for the information needed.”


Librarians consider this initial foray into authentic assessment a success, with the methodology only requiring a few adjustments. Results of student learning revealed an overall understanding by students of how to identify keywords and synonyms, but uncovered a weakness in topic development.

Research limitations/implications

This study is based on a three‐class sequence of information literacy for freshman composition students. Because of this, librarians can limit the number of outcomes per class, not always an option in one‐shot sessions.

Practical implications

This technique provides a realistic means of assessing student learning of outcomes. Due to the popularity of active learning, many librarians should already have in‐class activities they could easily convert into assessments.


Much research exists on the value and results of authentic assessment. Fewer studies focus on formative, authentic assessment of a specific ACRL outcome, particularly at the individual session‐level.



Carter, T. (2013), "Use what you have: authentic assessment of in‐class activities", Reference Services Review, Vol. 41 No. 1, pp. 49-61.

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