Guidelines for Primary Source Literacy Rubric

Assessment of Learning Objectives

The Guidelines for Primary Source Literacy present broad learning objectives which are intended to “be used as a whole or in part depending on particular learning needs and larger programmatic goals, and may be applied differently in different contexts” (Guidelines, p. 2). This rubric provides assessment criteria and performance measures to each of the learning objectives in the Guidelines. It is meant to be a tool that educators can adopt and/or adapt to suit their own teaching practice rather than a definitive statement on the assessment of primary source literacy. If you adapt this rubric at your own institution, please consider contributing it to the TPS Collective!



Highly Competent Developing Competency Developing Competency Not Achieved
4 3 2 1
LEARNING OBJECTIVE I:
CONCEPTUALIZE
Student is able to: Student Begins To: Student: Student is not yet able to:
Distinguish the difference between primary and secondary sourcesDistinguish the difference between primary and secondary sourcesHas trouble distinguishing the difference between primary and secondary sourcesDistinguish the difference between primary and secondary sources
Understand how primary and secondary sources are interrelated in the research processUnderstand how primary and secondary sources are interrelated in the research processMarginally understands how primary and secondary sources are interrelated in the research processUnderstand how primary and secondary sources are interrelated in the research process
Identify individuals, groups and organizations that might produce primary sources about a research topic within the framework of their area of studyIdentify individuals, groups and organizations that might produce primary sources about a research topicBegins to identify individuals, groups and organizations that might produce primary sources about a research topicIdentify individuals, groups and organizations that might produce primary sources about a research topic
Refine information needs and search strategies as necessary, based on search results and analysis of information sourcesBegins to refine information needs and search strategies as necessary, based on search results and analysis of sourcesHas trouble refining information needs and search strategies as necessary, based on search results and analysis of sourcesIs not yet able to refine information needs and search strategies as necessary, based on search results and analysis of sources

Understand that research is often non-linear and iterative and that research questions may change as primary sources are analyzedBegins to understand that research is often non-linear and iterative and that research questions may change as primary sources are analyzedMarginally understands that research is often non-linear and iterative and that research questions may change as primary sources are analyzedIs not yet able to understand that research is often non-linear and iterative and that research questions may change as primary sources are analyzed
Highly CompetentDeveloping Competency Developing Competency Not Achieved
4321
LEARNING OBJECTIVE II:
FIND & ACCESS
Student is able to: Student begins to: Student: Student:
Identify possible locations of primary sources related to the research topic or area of studyBegins to identify possible locations of primary sources related to the research topic or area of studyHas trouble identifying possible locations of primary sources related to the research topic or area of studyIs not yet able to identify possible locations of primary sources related to the research topic or area of study
Match information needs and search strategies to appropriate search tools, such as catalog records and archival finding aidsBegins to match information needs and search strategies to appropriate search tools, such as catalog records and archival finding aidsHas trouble matching information needs and search strategies to appropriate search tools, such as catalog records and archival finding aidsDoes not match information needs and search strategies to appropriate search tools, such as catalog records and archival finding aids
Distinguish between online resources that contain information about primary sources verse those that contain digital versions, originals, or copies of sourcesBegins to distinguish between online resources that contain information about primary sources verse those that contain digital versions, originals, or copies of sourcesHas trouble distinguishing between online resources that contain information about primary sources verse those that contain digital versions, originals, or copies of sourcesIs not yet able to distinguish between online resources that contain information about primary sources verse those that contain digital versions, originals, or copies of sources
Understand that historical records may never have existed, may not have survived, or may not be publicly accessibleBegins to understand that historical records may never have existed, may not have survived, or may not be publicly accessibleMarginally understands that historical records may never have existed, may not have survived, or may not be publicly accessibleIs not yet able to understand that historical records may never have existed, may not have survived, or may not be publicly accessible
Recognize that existing records may have been shaped by selectivity and mediationBegins to recognize that existing records may have been shaped by selectivity and mediationMarginally recognizes that existing records may have been shaped by selectivity and mediationIs not yet able to recognize that existing records may have been shaped by selectivity and mediation
Understand the policies and procedures that affect access to primary sources, recognizing that these differ across repositories, databases, and collectionsBegins to understand the policies and procedures that affect access to primary sources, and begins to recognize that these differ across repositories, databases, and collectionsMarginally understands the policies and procedures that affect access to primary sources, and that these differ across repositories, databases, and collectionsIs not yet able to understand the policies and procedures that affect access to primary sources, or that these differ across repositories, databases, and collections
Highly Competent Developing Competency Developing Competency Not Achieved
4 321
LEARNING OBJECTIVE III: READ, UNDERSTAND, & SUMMARIZE
Student is able to:
Student:Student:Student:
Identify and understand information found in a primary source, which may entail:
— Successfully navigating textual features like scripts, fonts, or languages
— Comprehending vocabulary, syntax, and communication norms of the time and place in which the source was created
— Understanding or operating the technology needed to access or retrieve information found in a primary source
Begins to identify and understand information found in a primary source. Navigates textual and other information related to the source’s content and process of creation with partial success.Marginally identifies and understands information found in a primary source. Has trouble navigating textual and other information related to the source’s content and process of creation.Is not yet able to identify and understand information found in a primary source. Does not navigate textual and other information related to the source’s content and process of creation.
Communicate the information content of a primary source

Begins to communicate and summarize the information content of a primary sourceMarginally communicates and summarizes the information content of a primary sourceIs not yet able to communicate and summarize the information content of a primary source
Identify and communicate key information about a primary source, including source type, and/or how, when, and by whom it was createdBegins to identify and communicate key information about a primary source, including source type, and/or how, when, and by whom it was createdMarginally identifies and has trouble communicating key information about a primary source, including source type, and/or how, when, and by whom it was createdHas trouble identifying and communicating key information about a primary source, including source type, and/or how, when, and by whom it was created
Understand that a primary source may exist in various iterations due to publication, copying, or other transformationsBegins to understand that a primary source may exist in various iterations due to publication, copying, or other transformationsMarginally understands that a primary source may exist in various iterations due to publication, copying, or other transformationsIs not yet able to understand that a primary source may exist in various iterations due to publication, copying, or other transformations
Highly CompetentDeveloping CompetencyDeveloping CompetencyNot Achieved
4321

LEARNING OBJECTIVE IV: INTERPRET, ANALYZE, & EVALUATE
Student is able to: Student: Student: Student:
Assess the fit between a primary source and a particular research questionBegins to assess the fit between a primary source and a particular research questionHas trouble assessing the fit between a primary source and a particular research questionDoes not assess the fit between a primary source and a particular research question
Recognize and evaluate the perspective, subjectivity, and credibility of the creator(s) of a primary source, including how these relate to the source’s intended purpose(s) and audienceBegins to recognize and evaluate the perspective, subjectivity, and credibility of the creator(s) of a primary source, including how these relate to the source’s intended purpose(s) and audienceMarginally recognizes and has trouble evaluating the perspective, subjectivity, and credibility of the creator(s) of a primary sourceIs not yet able to recognize and evaluate the perspective, subjectivity, and credibility of the creator(s) of a primary source
Situate a primary source in context. Applies knowledge about the source type or format; how, when, and by whom it was created; or related materials in a collectionBegins to situate a primary source in context. Begins to apply knowledge about the source type or format; how, when, and by whom it was created; or related materials in a collectionMarginally situates a primary source in context. Has trouble applying knowledge about the source type or format; how, when, and by whom it was created; or related materials in a collectionIs not yet able to situate a primary source in context. Does not apply knowledge about the source type or format; how, when, and by whom it was created; or related materials in a collection
Identify and interrogate the reasons for silences, gaps, contradictions, or evidence of power relationships in the documentary record and how they impact the research processBegins to identify and interrogate the reasons for silences, gaps, contradictions, or evidence of power relationships in the documentary record and how they impact the research processHas difficulty identifying and interrogating the reasons for silences, gaps, contradictions, or evidence of power relationships in the documentary record and how they impact the research processIs not yet able to identify and interrogate the reasons for silences, gaps, contradictions, or evidence of power relationships in the documentary record and how they impact the research process
Understand the relationship between physical attributes and informational content of a primary source, including the relationship between original sources and physical or digital copies of that sourceBegins to understand the relationship between physical attributes and informational content of a primary source, including the relationship between original sources and surrogates of that sourceMarginally understands the relationship between physical attributes and informational content of a primary source, including the relationship between original sources and surrogates of that sourceIs not yet able to understand the relationship between physical attributes and informational content of a primary source, including the relationship between original sources and surrogates of that source
Express a sense of historical empathy, curiosity about the past, and appreciation for historical sources and historical actorsExpresses a developing sense of historical empathy, curiosity about the past, or appreciation for historical sources and historical actorsExpresses a vague or marginal sense of historical empathy, curiosity about the past, or appreciation for historical sources and historical actorsDoes not express a sense of historical empathy, curiosity about the past, or appreciation for historical sources and historical actors
Highly Competent Developing CompetencyDeveloping CompetencyNot Achieved
4321
LEARNING OBJECTIVE V:
USE & INCORPORATE
Student is able to: Student begins to: Student has trouble:Student:
Examine and synthesize a variety of sources in order to construct, support, or dispute a research argumentExamine and synthesize a variety of sources in order to construct, support, or dispute a research argumentExamining and synthesizing a variety of sources in order to construct, support, or dispute a research argumentIs not yet able to examine and synthesize a variety of sources in order to construct, support, or dispute a research argument
Use primary sources in a manner that respects privacy rights and cultural contextsUse primary sources in a manner that respects privacy rights and cultural contextsUsing primary sources in a manner that respects privacy rights and cultural contextsIs not yet able to use primary sources in a manner that respects privacy rights and cultural contexts
Cite primary sources in their own information production, using appropriate style guidelines and/or repository practicesCite primary sources in their own information production, using appropriate style guidelines and/or repository practicesCiting primary sources in their own information production, including difficulty using appropriate style guidelines and/or repository practicesDoes not cite primary sources in their own information production; does not use appropriate style guidelines and/or repository practices


Adhere to copyright and privacy laws when incorporating primary source information into their own information productionAdhere to copyright and privacy laws when incorporating primary source information into their own information productionAdhering to copyright and privacy laws when incorporating primary source information into their own information productionIs not yet able to adhere to copyright and privacy laws when incorporating primary source information into their own information production

Maggie Gallup Kopp and the RBMS Instruction and Outreach Committee, 2019

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