Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Trails assessment tool

It is worth reminding people about the Trails assessment tool that is available for anyone to use with their learners. You can sign up immediately as a tutor, and choose which multiple choice test you want your learners to take. They are aimed at older schoolchildren (I think? 6th and 9th grade, not sure what ages those are) in the USA, and structured around the Information Power information literacy standards (some around all the standrads, others focusing in more depth on a particular standard). You get reports on the learners' performance, and if you give the students codes in advance to identify themselves, you can set it so that the learners can see their own answers and what they should have answered, afterwards.
This is obviously a very useful resource to have completey free and open to use, and big thanks to its producers and funders. The main drawbacks that I perceive are, firstly, for people outside the US, the natural focus on US issues and use of US terminology and spelling e.g. in one question learners have to think about the suitability of the topic "What steps must public high schools take to establish on-site daycare for children of teenage parents attending school?": in the UK, we would have to explain what "public high schools" were.
There is also the perennial issue with information literacy multiple choice questions, of disagreeing about which of the choices is right. For example, in a question about suitable people to ask about recycled "tire" (tyre) products, the correct choices are flagged as teacher or librarian, and a car mechanic choice isn't highlighted. However, with the greater emphasis on green issues, I think in the UK there would be more likelihood that people in garages would be able to help, and even more so in a country like Germany with rigourous recycling policies.
However still well worth looking at. http://www.trails-9.org/
Photo by Sheila Webber: Spot the cat no 7 (sitting on my clemetis, Sheffield, March 2009). Actually I think I have posted this one before. There are a couple more recently-taken photos coming: "spot the big cat".

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