For students, assessment frames the lesson. As in, it shows what will be or what has been taught. Assessment also helps us understand if they've understood the lesson. Could they apply what they've been taught to future research?
For instructors, assessment helps us understand our students better and become better teachers. What level of knowledge do students bring to the class? What level do they leave with? How could the lesson be improved?
Librarians often have limited classroom time, so these assessment ideas are all quick ways to obtain immediate feedback - the kind most relevant to instructors themselves.
Some basic concepts of assessment from Northwestern Libraries:
Asking students to write a sentence or two at the end of class uses a minimal amount of that precious in-class time. Here are two quick written assessment exercises:
Muddiest point: Hand students a small piece of paper. On one side, have them write one takeaway that they learned or found useful about the lesson. On the other side, have them write one point that they still aren't clear about, that they didn't understand. You could vary this by having students use separate post-its.
Minute writing: Give students no more than a minute or two to answer a single question related to the lesson. This will help you understand their comprehension and level of learning. Use a timer to limit long answers. When asking for a written response like this, remember that restating facts, summarizing information, and applying learned information to new circumstances all require different levels of understanding and skill.
Starting the class with a poll can help determine what knowledge and opinions students students bring to the classroom. It also promotes active learning through engagement (you need my opinion?).
After asking the question, follow up. Use the results to inform your teaching. As you have also just set the stage for learning about a new topic, you might choose to follow with:
Polling students by asking them to physically raise their hands is as classic and easy as can be.
You can also poll students online using any of these classroom response (discussion) tools, which allow you to capture a range of options instead of just yes or no answers. These tools also allow you to retain response data, which is useful if starting a discussion (eg. "it looks like about half of the class agreed with the statement that you should always cite when paraphrasing ideas. Why is that?"). These statistics can also be useful when teaching multiple sections or related courses. Polling students after class also becomes possible with electronic tools, and you can always ask faculty to send out a short survey after class.
Having a pretest and a posttest frames your instruction session i.e. it makes it clear to students that this is what is being taught. A pretest allows you to establish what knowledge students already have on a topic. A posttest allows you to determine what they've learnt from the lesson.
Imagine testing students on this question: "What is authority?" The pretest will get students thinking about this complex topic, and allow you to understand their initial thoughts. A posttest of the same question should show proof of learning based on the instruction with a much clearer and focused idea of what authority is. For example results of such pretests and posttests, see this article: "If We Frame It, They Will Respond: Undergraduate Student Responses to the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education" (2017). The author Rachel Scott uses her assessment results to argue that students are able to tackle the complex topics, like authority, that are a part of the ACRL Framework.
This page has covered quick assessment tools that look at one instruction session and are meant to help out one instructor, you. However, there's no reason that you can't take assessment further if you feel inspired. For example:
Finally, here's a little reminder on why it all matters. This literature review by Mezick (2014) shows the value of library instruction and major assessment studies of this:
"Library use, particularly in the early weeks of a student's first semester, has been shown to be associated with retention (Haddow & Joseph, 2010). First-time, first-year undergraduate students who use the library were found to have a higher Grade Point Average (GPA) for their first semester and higher retention from fall to spring than non-library users (Soria, Fransen, & Nackerud, 2013).....Provision of library instruction or information literacy programs has been identified as an important contributor to student academic engagement (Breivik, 1977; Mark & Boruff-Jones, 2003). The extent of library training was discovered to be an excellent early indicator of first-time full-time student engagement and retention, with training in how to use library resources having particularly useful academic consequences as a predictor of GPA in the first and second semesters (Gammell, Allen, & Banach, 2012)."
"Relationship of Library Assessment to Student Retention"