Blog Task #1

The role of TL in practice with regard to assessing information literacy and inquiry learning

Information literacy and inquiry learning are slippery concepts and there are various attempts to pin down solid definitions and debate regarding which skills indicate that an individual is indeed information literate (Abilock, 2004, p. 1; Bundy, 2004, p. 3; Doyle, 1994, p. 40 cited Herring, 2007, p. 33). Considering this, it is not surprising that educators find an inquiry process confronting and assessing information literacy skills difficult (Langford, 1998). At this point, a teacher librarian (TL) can play a vital support role and potentially collaborate with teachers to find effective measures to assess the ‘elusive nature’ of information literacy skills (Mueller, 2008, p. 18) and create opportunities for ongoing assessment during the complex inquiry process (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007, p. 3).

Given that inquiry is not sequential, there are many models available to scaffold the process (Bond, 2011). These models or frameworks recognise that inquiry is not a linear process (Kuhlthau et al, 2007, p. 2) and provide suitable structures to develop information literacy in all curriculum areas. Some models available include the PLUS model (Herring, 2004 cited in Herring, 2007, p. 33), The Big 6 (Eisenberg and Berkowitz, 1990; Eisenberg and Berkowitz, 2012), the Information Search Process (ISP) (Kuhlthau, 1991; Kuhlthau et al, 2007). Each of these models may be slightly different however they all include similar stages in the inquiry process (Lupton, 2012). The TL may be responsible for assessing potential models for implementation within the school and providing training to classroom teachers. For example, the Information Process model (NSW Department of Education and Training, 2007) and Information Literacy Planning Overview (ILPO) (Ryan & Capra, 2001) are perhaps the most widely used models in Australia (Herring, 2007, p. 33; Lupton, 2012) however classroom teachers may still require the TL to deliver in-service training and examples showing how to integrate the model into their planning of assessment.

Inquiry outcomes and information literacy skills can be broad and goals are often ‘nebulous’ (Mueller, 2008, p. 18) thus it would seem sensible to adopt a team approach (Kuhlthau et al, 2007) to share the workload of collecting assessment data throughout the process (Kuhlthau et al, 2007; Stripling, 2007). Reflecting on previous experience, it was not usual practice to collaborate with a TL when planning inquiry based assessment items. Consequently, without such involvement, students’ information literacy skills were overlooked and not adequately assessed (Mueller, 2008). Perhaps in such situations ‘curriculum mapping’ (Pappas, 2007, p. 21) would enable collaboration between education professionals and connections of information literacy standards and curriculum content.

Although the TL or ‘library media specialist’ (Mueller, 2005, p. 14) is experienced with integrating information literacy and inquiry based learning (Combes, 2013), Mueller (2005, p. 14) warns that it is not always easy to convince teachers that there is an over reliance on traditional assessment and information literacy skills are better evaluated using ‘authentic assessment’. TLs can devise rubrics (Mueller, 2005; Brown, 2008) and checklists of observable behaviours (Stripling, 2007, p. 27) to assist classroom teachers however a TL is able to thoroughly assess information skills or ‘information fluency’ (Stripling, 2006; Stripling, 2007: 25) during all phases of the particular inquiry model (Mueller, 2008). Further, Kuhlthau et al (2007, p. 6) discuss that the TL is ‘uniquely positioned’ to provide educators with meaningful and long term feedback regarding achievement of curriculum and learning outcomes. TLs form a relationship with students from grade to grade and are therefore is able to monitor progress and achievement over a number of years.


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Brown, C.A. (2008). Building rubrics: A step-by-step process. Library Media Connection. Retrieved from

Bundy, A. (ed.). (2004). Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: Principles, standards and practice. 2nd ed. Adelaide: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy (ANZIIL) and Council of Australian University Libraries (CAUL). Retrieved from CSU Reserve.

Combes, B. (2013). Introduction to teacher librarianship [ETL401 Modules: Topic 4 – Information literacy: Guided inquiry]. Retrieved from Charles Sturt University website:

Eisenberg, M. & Berkowitz, R. (1990). Information problem-solving: The big six skills approach to library and information skills instruction. New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

Eisenberg, M. & Berkowitz, R. (2012). The big 6. Retrieved from

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century : Charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW : Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University. Retrieved from CSU Reserve.

Kuhlthau, C. (1991). Inside the search process: Information seeking from the users’ perspective. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 42 (5), 361-371. Retrieved from EBSCO Business Source Complete.

Kuhlthau, C, Maniotes, L. & Caspari, A. (2007). Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century. Wesport: Libraries Unlimited.

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Lupton, M. (2012). Inquiry skills in the Australian curriculum. Access, 26 (2), 12-18. Retrieved from Informit Humanities and Social Sciences Collection.

Mueller, J. (2005). Authentic assessment in the classroom…and the library media center. Library Media Connection, 23 (7), 14-18. Retrieved from EBSCOHost.

Mueller, J. (2008). Assessing skill development. Library Media Connection, 27 (3), 18-20. Retrieved from EBSCOHost.

New South Wales Department of Education and Training. (2007). Information skills in the school: Engaging learners in constructing knowledge. In School libraries and information literacy unit curriculum K-12 Directorate. Retrieved from

Pappas, M.L. (2007). Tools for the assessment of learning. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 23 (9), 21-25. Retrieved from CSU Library Reserve.

Stripling, B. (2007). Assessing  informative fluency: Gathering evidence of student learning. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 23 (8), 25-29. Retrieved from CSU Library Reserve.

Stripling, B. (2010). What is assessment and why should the school librarian be involved

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. Massachusetts School Library Association, Assessment: The AASL Fall Forum. Retrieved from

Ryan, J. & Capra, S. (2001). Information Literacy Planning for Educators: The ILPO Approach. School Libraries Worldwide, 2001, 7(1), 1-10. Retrieved from Proquest.


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