Workshop report, part three: What drives the instruction?

In his June 15 NERCOMP presentation Zak Stein described how testing not only measures outputs but also structures the system in which it takes place.  How does this concept apply to library instruction?

Many instruction programs use pretests and post tests.  If the test questions deal with finding books or finding articles, the instruction will focus on finding books or finding articles.  I do not use this example to devalue pretests and post tests: I simply use it to illustrate the “testing drives instruction” dynamic.

Knowing about this dynamic helps us instructors choose our measures thoughtfully.  We can ask ourselves, “Do we really want to focus on  finding articles?”  Maybe we do.  Then we can make sure our measures highlight that skill.

This idea may seem like common sense.  All the same it bears keeping in mind.  Check out the National Testing Survey website for more resources on this topic.

“Assessment of student learning: Radical implications of the new science of learning.”  Presented in Norwood, MA, for the Northeast Regional Computing Program: June 15, 2010.