Jennifer S. Ferguson. Using Authentic Assessment in Information Literacy Programs: Tools, Techniques, and Strategies. Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield, 2018. 157p. Paper, $45.00 (ISBN 978-1-5381-0481-1).

Joseph Aubele


In the field of education, few topics have had the enduring interest of practitioners and researchers alike as assessment. Understanding what students are learning, how they learn, and, more centrally to the concept of authentic assessment, what they are able to do is critical to being an effective educator. An additional layer of complexity exists within academic libraries, as librarians investigate whether a connection (or more than one) exists between librarian-led, library-centric instruction and student outcomes. Within this multilayered conversation is Jennifer Ferguson’s examination of incorporating authentic assessment as part of information literacy. The eight chapters of this relatively slim volume divide the topic of authentic assessment, broadly speaking, into the past, present, and future. The first chapter, “Authentic Assessment Defined,” begins provocatively by asking a series of rhetorical questions regarding the current state of library assessment and challenging the profession with the observation that much of what passes for assessment within libraries “tells us very little about the actual learning that takes place in information literacy instruction.” However, beyond that, until near the end of the book, there is little direct challenge to the status quo. Instead, the bulk of what follows suggests that instructional librarians adopt existing, authentic assessment methods to gain a better understanding of the impact of their instructional efforts.

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