TRAILS (Tool for Real-Time Assessment of Information Literacy Skills) was an online information literacy assessment project of Kent State University Libraries. Initially it was undertaken as an extension of the Libraries’ high school outreach program to provide a snapshot of high school students’ understanding of basic information literacy concepts. TRAILS later expanded its reach to cover grades 3 through 12.
Grant funding enabled eventual development of standards-based assessments for grades 3, 6, 9, and 12. The online TRAILS-9 site was freely available and insured student privacy. Developed as a self-service tool, TRAILS provided the capability for users to create and administer assessments and immediately generate reports. Librarians valued having an objective measure of students’ understanding of information literacy and used TRAILS to guide their instruction. Additionally, they found it opened doors for collaboration with classroom teachers and provided meaningful input to school administrators.
TRAILS-9 went live in January 2006. Over its fourteen-year history, 31,000 librarians registered and administered more than 126,000 assessments to nearly 2.5 million students. Budget and staffing pressures led the TRAILS team to decide to end TRAILS as an interactive tool as of June 30, 2019. Content was moved to TRAILS-Archive.org to provide an open educational resource (OER) for users. Hosting for the new site was generously provided by Carrick Enterprises.
“Reflecting on TRAILS”
For a narrative review of the development of TRAILS, its use, and the challenges faced in maintaining the interactive tool, go to the Information Literacy Assessment blog post “Reflecting on TRAILS” by TRAILS Founding Member Barbara F. Schloman.