Winter-Summer 2018 (ACRL-SLILC) | Student Learning and Information Literacy Committee Interview with April Cunningham, Palomar College, and Carolyn Radcliff and Rick Wiggins, Carrick Enterprises


April Cunningham, Palomar College, and Carolyn Radcliff and Rick Wiggins, Carrick Enterprises

The Student Learning and Information Literacy Committee (SLILC) interviewed Carolyn Radcliff, Information Literacy Librarian and Rick Wiggins, Chief Technology Officer, both of Carrick Enterprises, along with April Cunningham, Project Leader for the Threshold Achievement Test for Information Literacy  this semester to learn more about the Threshold Achievement Test and how it can help librarians better understand the information literacy capabilities of their students. SLILC Members individually took a module of the test and submitted questions as a result of their experiences to help shape the dialogue for this interview. Read on to learn more about Carrick Enterprises and their approach to designing and providing resources to assess student learning in the 21st century.

SCLIC: Do you believe that students are properly trained in information literacy to become researchers and life-long learners?

(CR): When we look at college student performance on assessments such as SAILS and TATIL, we see much of what you would expect. There is a vast range of performance levels. Students make progress year to year from the time they enter college to the time they leave. We also see that while many students are comfortable with basic searching and simple source evaluation, fewer students are aware of the full range of their options, opportunities, and obligations with regard to information discovery and use.

It’s exciting to be part of the effort to improve information literacy abilities of college students, both to help them be successful in college and so that they are discerning consumers and responsible contributors to the information ecosystem throughout their lives.

SLILC: What are some of the reasons why you chose to create a test to survey student learning and students’ approach to research in the 21st century?

RWR: We want to contribute to the national discussion on information literacy with the overarching goal of elevating students’ abilities and dispositions. We wanted to build on the success of Project SAILS by creating a next-generation assessment that was responsive to the ACRL Information Literacy Framework. So part of it was keeping up with the changing times. Creating a meaningful test requires a significant investment of time from content experts as well as programmers. We wanted to offer schools a second option (SAILS being the first) that would allow them to inquire into students’ information literacy in a way that they probably couldn’t do on their own, given limited resources. Once we began the work, we were also motivated by the challenge of considering both information literacy knowledge practices and dispositions for our assessment.

SLILC: How did using the Framework as a guiding document change the focus of the TATIL (within the context of TATIL’s predecessor, Project SAILS)?

CR: There was really no connection between the development of SAILS and of TATIL except our involvement with SAILS gave us good experience to build on. We carried over from the SAILS project our commitment to student privacy, ease of test administration, and validity and reliability.

The Framework gave us a different way to look at information literacy and what could be expected of an expert. With TATIL we had to first develop outcomes and performance indicators that were filtered through the Framework. Through that process we ended up with four modules, each with knowledge performance indicators and dispositions.

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