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Assessment for Librarians: Ch 3: Assessing Skill in Synthesis & Creative Thinking

Assessing Skills in Synthesis and Creative Thinking---3 CATS

1. One-Sentence Summary
  Requires student to organize new information and put it in a new   format

2. Concept Maps
 A more free-form way for students to demonstrate understanding   and synthesis of a new idea

        3. Invented Dialogues       
         Ask students to synthesize new information and consider how they  will discuss it with a particular audience

One Sentence Assessment

Students need to understand a new difficult concept, including threshold concepts
This assessment works best when students are told at beginning that they will be asked to respond and are given a table with guiding questions that students can takes notes during presentation

Question about a given topic: 
Does what
To whom
How and

Allows students to “chunk” information that can be recalled---synthesize answer into a single sentence

EXAMPLE:  How do scholarly articles get published?
Who? = Researcher
Does what? = Publish
To what or whom?=Their findings
When?=Once research is finished
Where?=in scholarly journals within their fields
How?=after peers have reviewed their methods and results
Why? to disseminate information and further the scholarly conversation

SENTENCE=Researchers publish their findings once research is finished in scholarly journals within their fields, after peers have reviewed their methods and results, in order to disseminate information and further the scholarly conversation.

Concept Maps

Concepts maps=drawings, flowcharts, diagrams showing mental connections between major concept and related concepts.

Used at various points in research process---can be used to visualize the research process; to narrow a broad topic, etc.

First-Year Writing Course (English 1000)
Students write their research topic in the center of the page

Ask students to brainstorm the following questions:
What are the surrounding issues?
Who cares about this topic enough to write and publish on it?
Whom does this issue impact? (Gender, age, profession, etc.)
What aspect of this topic are you interested in? (causes, effects,
implications, solutions, etc.)
Is this current? In the past? Related to a specific event?
Looking to the future?
Is this issue bound to a particular place? (countries, regions,
states, workplaces, schools, virtually


Upper-Division Course
Librarian wants students to think about past research experiences
and process for completing an assignment.
Librarian has each student draw a map of their research process,
whether it is a step-by-step process, a meandering road, a cyclical
Next, students discuss their maps in small groups, which leads
to discussions about different processes and how they can be
Students see that everyone approaches research in a slightly
different way and they get ideas about how to approach their
upcoming projects.

Another example
Ask each student to begin a concept map with a topic,
then have all students pass their maps through the room.  Each
student adds a synonym, subtopic or related topic.  This way
the map benefits from collective knowledge of the class. It
broadens the class perspective of topics and ideas for the
assignment and fosters collaborative thinking.





Invented Dialogues

By inventing dialogues, students synthesize understanding of a concept into a structured and illustrative conversation.

Popular versus Scholarly Articles (First Year Students)
After teaching about differences between popular and scholarly articles, librarian gives students the following assignment:

Imagine you have to teach a group of new university students the difference between popular and scholarly articles.
How would you explain this concept to them?
What information would you need to know to located scholarly sources through the university library?
Include both sides of the dialogue, with questions the new students would ask