Rubric Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (RAILS)

Photo of Brian Winterman

Brian Winterman (MLS'03) will participate in the Rubric Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (RAILS) project for the 2011-2012 academic year. Winterman, Information Fluency and Assessment Librarian for the IUB Libraries, will represent Indiana University. He “was selected from librarians attending the ACRL Assessment Immersion Program, an intensive professional development experience focused on building librarian capacity to assess student learning.”

"Indiana University is one of five institutions nationwide selected to participate in the RAILS (Rubric Assessment of Information Literacy Skills) project during the 2011-2012 academic year. RAILS is based at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies and led by Assistant Professor Megan Oakleaf. The three-year project seeks to measure information literacy skills of college students and is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services."

The following are additional excerpts from the IUB Libraries’ Press Release and describe the project in greater detail:
  • “RAILS is designed to help librarians and academic faculty develop and test rubrics that evaluate student learning and information literacy.”
  • "More than 100 samples of student work will be evaluated at each institution to not only evaluate the students themselves, but also how well librarians and faculty members assess student work. Part of the study’s overall goal is to normalize evaluation of student information literacy and establish rubrics to measure teaching effectiveness in libraries. RAILS will employ an interactive website and Waypoint Outcomes, a provider of Web-based academic assessment tools, to process the anonymized assessment data.”
  • “It’s a big issue with academic libraries to show that they are really contributing to the overall mission of the university,” Oakleaf said. “Libraries receive substantial financial resources from their institutions, so they have to prove their value within the university. This is a way to give actual evidence of the importance of academic libraries.”

Brian Winterman is also a SLIS adjunct faculty member. He has taught SLIS S523: Science and Technology Information in recent years. With his encouragement, the students in his classes have had articles published on their research.

We asked him if he had any tips for SLIS students. He replied:

  • “When I was a SLIS student (‘00-‘03), assessment never even crossed my mind. If someone would have told me it would become a major part of my career, I probably wouldn’t have believed them. After graduation, though, my career became focused on information literacy research, and assessment came along naturally after that. Even though my work primarily involves information literacy, assessment is increasingly important in many areas of library and information science. Particularly in academic libraries, it is important for us to demonstrate our value to and impact on research, teaching, and learning at the university, and continuous and effective assessment should be the basis of that. So, no matter what your career goals, learn what you can about assessment of library services, collections, et al. There are few fields that do not involve some element of assessment, and understanding that angle of your field may improve the way you do your job and may also be a great asset to you in the job market.”

Posted December 09, 2011

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