Syracuse University has contracted with Waypoint Outcomes, a provider of Web-based academic assessment tools, to assist Megan Oakleaf, assistant professor in the School of Information Studies at Syracuse, in her Rubric Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (RAILS) project.

After receiving a prestigious research grant from the Institute of Library and Museum Services (IMLS), Oakleaf recognized the necessity for a powerful yet flexible assessment tool to aid in the facilitation of the RAILS project. The objective of the project is to gauge undergraduate students’ ability to recognize when information is required as well as their ability to locate, evaluate, and effectively use the needed information.

“A main goal of the RAILS project is to empower librarians and disciplinary faculty to conduct rubric assessments of student information literacy skills easily and efficiently” Oakleaf said. “Waypoint Outcomes helps us achieve this goal by eliminating ‘the dirty work’ of rubric assessment–paper forms, tedious data entry, and difficult results analysis. Instead it enables librarians and faculty to focus on what’s important – using authentic student work samples for assessment, determining student skill strengths and weaknesses, and providing feedback to students.”

Oakleaf will assist librarians and other faculty in assessing student learning and develop a standards-based rubric that will measure the information literacy skills of college students. The standardized rubric will be distributed to professors at ten Universities by 2012. The rubric will then be utilized and adapted by the faculty to evaluate their students’ skills and abilities. The resulting data will be compiled and aggregated using the tools provided by Waypoint Outcomes.

“The Waypoint team is very proud to be supporting the RAILS project,” said Andrew McCann, founder and CEO of Waypoint Outcomes. “Information literacy is one of the most important skills that students develop in college, but because it doesn’t fall under a specific academic discipline the subject can often fall through the cracks,” he continued.

Leading universities and school districts in the United States, Canada, and Europe utilize Waypoint Outcomes assessment software. Integrated with Learning Management platforms like Blackboard, Moodle, and eCollege, Waypoint helps instructors create better feedback for tens of thousands of students. Institutions can more efficiently manage rubric-based assessment and course evaluations while creating rich data on learning outcomes that helps them ‘close the loop’ on curricular improvement.