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“Evaluating Information Literacy Educators’ Practices”: Journal Club Report by Emily Delahaye

Anne Welsh5 December 2014

ResearchBlogging.org

Andretta, S. (2011). Evaluating information literacy educators’ practices before and after the course facilitating information literacy education: from tutor to learner-centred Health Information & Libraries Journal, 28 (3), 171-178 DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2011.00946.x

Article summary:

Susie Andretta analyses the impact that an intensive course at London Metropolitan University, ‘Facilitating Information Literacy Education’ (FILE), has had on healthcare librarians, and their ability to teach information literacy (IL) skills. FILE aims to change teaching by librarians, from being tutor-centred to learner-centred. It also aims to make teaching more evidence-based, reflecting the importance of evidence-based practice in healthcare, and evidence-based library and information practice. The author surveyed students that had completed the course between 2007 and 2010, to learn about their teaching styles before and after attending the FILE course. 19 out of 21 respondents stated that FILE had had a substantial impact on the way they delivered IL training. One librarian volunteered that they now incorporated hands on activities into their sessions to make them more learner-centred. However, having too large a number of participants in IL training was identified as an obstacle to becoming learner-centred, as some librarians did not have time to learn about the needs of all their users in advance of sessions. The research in this article will be followed by interviews with participants to gain more of an insight into this area of study.

Discussion:

Discussion began with talking about the focus of the article – teaching healthcare librarians how to teach IL to library users effectively. It was suggested that the article was particularly appropriate to us, as MA LIS students, as we are sharpening our own digital literacy skills in order to complete our work, and, after graduation, we will be going out into the world of libraries to pass this onto users. The role of journals in scholarly communication was also touched on. This article represents the preliminary part of Andretta’s research, and instead of waiting to finish her research and then publish, it makes sense to disseminate as you go. Journals are the perfect format for that.We then looked at the article in more depth. Methodology was the first topic raised. One member of the group felt that the number of people surveyed was too few to enable the author to draw strong conclusions. Out of 58 librarians invited to take part in the survey, only 21 responded.

We were also not sure why gender had been used as a means to distinguish anonymised participants, e.g 19M and 12F . It was speculated that there might have been an explanation for this which, when the article was edited, was thought of as unnecessary and taken out. Alternatively, it might have been hypothesised that gender would have an impact, and this turned out to not be the case. Another suggestion, following on from the first comments on disseminating findings continuously throughout the research process, was that gender might play a role in the author’s larger research project.

The article uses a self-reflective survey as it’s methodology. Following this we questioned what other measures could be used to analyse teaching, and to test whether this type of  training had an impact on teaching or not. It was suggested that to see if there was improvement, a researcher would first need to define goals that teaching needed to achieve, to be classed as successful.

In the field of healthcare, a skills needs assessment was proposed as an appropriate method for collecting information about what users need to know, which can be followed up on in training. This was put forward as appropriate, as evaluating needs and prioritising is what happens in healthcare constantly in order to provide good care. In the article it did focus on the evaluative process that librarians brought to their sessions, as a result of FILE, in order to have learners reflect on what they have learnt.
This was the last journal club meeting of 2014, looking forward to more sessions next term!
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Emily Delahaye (@EmilyDelahaye) is studying full-time for her MA LIS, while working part-time.​ 

Journal Club takes place once a month, and is facilitated by Charlie Inskip and Anne Welsh, with organisational support from Laura Keshav. This year we are discussing three articles on the theme of Information Literacy and three on more general topics. Discussion is led by students, and covers the research methods of the article and its contents, which are then used as a springboard to students’ experiences with regard to the topics raised by the article. The Club is open solely to students in the Department of Information Studies.

Note: the appearance of the byline on this post is auto-generated, indicating that it was posted by Anne Welsh. Emily Delahaye is is the sole author of this piece, drawing on the contributions of the students at Journal Club on Tuesday evening.

“How Today’s College Students Use Wikipedia”: Journal Club Report by Helena Hollis

Anne Welsh13 November 2014

ResearchBlogging.org

Head, A., & Eisenberg, M. (2010). How today’s college students use Wikipedia for course-related research First Monday, 15 (3) DOI: 10.5210/fm.v15i3.2830

Article summary:

This article presents the focus group and survey data from on-going research by Head and Eisenberg in the US. It looks at the usage of Wikipedia by university level students, specifically addressing how much Wikipedia is used, when it is used, what it is used for, and what other information sources students also report consulting. Findings show that Wikipedia is not used alone, but with other sources also, and is predominantly used for early stages of searching as a familiarisation reference.

 

Discussion:

Discussion commenced with a comparison of how we ourselves use Wikipedia, with the main consensus being that it is used to look up definitions. In this respect, our own behaviours with Wikipedia use were similar to the findings of the paper. It was also noted that Wikipedia is used for fun, with the serendipity of following Wikipedia links to new information being desirable and enjoyable. It was also noted that Wikipedia is useful for looking at subject matter with which validity is not a high priority. The familiarity of the Wikipedia layout was identified as a key attraction.

 

Looking at the paper itself, the data gathering methodology was criticised. The sample size of the focus groups was very small, and these focus groups were used to formulate the wider questionnaire. No comment was made as to how focus groups were selected. The wider questionnaire itself had a more substantial sample size. However, this was a largely female and humanities-studying sample, and therefore is not generalizable to the wider university population. It is worth noting that the authors are aware of this constraint, and present their conclusions with this clearly stated.

 

Some specific findings of the survey were discussed and critiqued. For instance, the authors found that Google users were more likely to use Wikipedia. This could be due to Wikipedia typically ranking highly in Google search results. However, since Google users made up almost all of the respondents, and non-Google users were limited in number, this conclusion is not as clear as it may first appear. It was noted that 2 year institutions had better research methods training than 4 year institutions, which was a surprising finding.

 

Discussion moved on to comparing the findings of the study with experience of school librarians, thinking about how college students compare to children in their use of Wikipedia. The school librarians felt that children use Wikipedia, and they are aware that is not credible. It was pointed out that in the past, children would simply use a paper encyclopaedia – this may not be better than Wikipedia, and is still a single source, therefore is arguably as ‘lazy’ a research strategy as relying on Wikipedia today.  It was noted that this is perhaps the main source of hostility from teachers and librarians towards Wikipedia; it is not necessarily the fact that it contains misinformation that can be the problem, but that it is treated as the only research source.

 

We then discussed the importance of Information Literacy (IL) training. It was agreed that IL could be taught early, leading to better searching behaviours, which would help curb the extent to which Wikipedia is used as the sole source of information. The observation was shared that students from different schools coming into a library can show different levels of preparedness, leading to very different searching methods. In the UK, the EPQ qualification was talked about as an example of a very good IL teaching programme. Some broader issues in IL were talked about, and it was noted that a good source can still be used badly, and therefore Wikipedia should not be treated as the epitome of bad research.

 

Overall, it was felt that this paper was interesting, and the findings were inline with our experiences. The authors’ honesty about their limitations was commendable. Their conclusions seemed justified.​

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Helena Hollis is studying part-time for her MA LIS, while working in an academic library.

Journal Club takes place once a month, and is facilitated by Charlie Inskip and Anne Welsh, with organisational support from Laura Keshav. This year we are discussing three articles on the theme of Information Literacy and three on more general topics. Discussion is led by students, and covers the research methods of the article and its contents, which are then used as a springboard to students’ experiences with regard to the topics raised by the article. The Club is open solely to students in the Department of Information Studies.

Note: the appearance of the byline on this post is auto-generated, indicating that it was posted by Anne Welsh. Helena Hollis is the sole author of this piece, drawing on the contributions of the students at Journal Club on Tuesday evening.

 

“The Professional Divide”: Journal Club Report by George Bray

Anne Welsh8 October 2014

ResearchBlogging.org

Hill, C. (2014). The professional divide: examining workplace relationships between librarians and library technicians The Australian Library Journal, 63 (1), 23-34 DOI: 10.1080/00049670.2014.890020

 

Article summary:

Hill presents and analyses the results of a survey undertaken to assess workplace tensions between library technicians – who have a TAFE diploma – and librarians – who have a professional degree. From her findings, she suggests tensions can be resolved through more accurate understanding of skill sets and roles, which could be accomplished at a variety of stages, from the recruitment process, through continued professional development, to on-the-job building of good relations.

Discussion:

There was universal unease regarding the methodology used in both survey and analysis. Certain questions appeared biased – for example offering a different set of ‘roles’ when asking what the duties were of librarians and library technicians. There was also confusion about the sampling process, which the article described in rather vague terms, and method and terminology seemed to lack definition. This made certain aspects of the analysis feel potentially unreliable – for example, no consideration was given to the reasons why people responded to the survey in certain ways, or what other factors might be contributing to tensions.

We also explored the idea behind the article – i.e. tensions within workplace hierarchies – and whether this related to our own experiences. While it was generally agreed that professional or qualification-related inequalities were not a problem as long as good relationships were maintained, there was anecdotal evidence for certain divides. Examples included: academics or other professionals not appreciating library professionals’ abilities and knowledge; cataloguers and systems staff lacking a connection to the front-end of the services (and vice versa); and the idea of qualified librarians doing the same tasks as unqualified paraprofessionals but with lower pay.

Various ideas were suggested for improving or maintaining workplace relations. The most popular was sharing duties in enquiry and reference roles, which was felt to improve communications and understanding across the hierarchy. All-staff meetings and open-plan offices were also seen as fostering a sense of unity. It was felt valuable for a librarian to have had experience of junior tasks at some point in their career, advocating the value of graduate traineeships prior to professional qualification. The importance of respect for colleagues and their skills was seen as paramount.

Related to this was discussion on whether it was right to assume that obtaining a different qualification (e.g. technician to librarian) was ‘progress’ or an ‘upgrade’, as assumed in the article. Shouldn’t it be left to the choice of the individual as to what kind of work they were happier doing? It was felt that this reflected the broader societal issue of pressure to be ambitious and obtain ‘top jobs’, regardless of a person’s other life concerns and interests.

Finally, the function and nature of professional bodies was addressed. How far should the continuing professional development (CPD) of the individual be a concern for the professional body? While it was agreed that CPD was certainly vital to being an effective librarian, questions were raised about whether organisational membership was a necessary part of this; particularly the case given the other bodies that exist beyond CILIP, such as the School Library Association and the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians. Was being a member of a ‘specialised’ body more beneficial than membership of the broader organisation?

The article provided a lot of interesting debate and we look forward to the next journal club.

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George Bray (@NexGenGB) is studying for his MA LIS

Journal Club takes place once a month, and is facilitated by Charlie Inskip and Anne Welsh, with organisational support from Laura Keshav. This year we are discussing three articles on the theme of Information Literacy and three on more general topics. Discussion is led by students, and covers the research methods of the article and its contents, which are then used as a springboard to students’ experiences with regard to the topics raised by the article. The Club is open solely to students in the Department of Information Studies.

Note: the appearance of the byline on this post is auto-generated, indicating that it was posted by Anne Welsh. George Bray is the sole author of this piece, drawing on the contributions of the students at Journal Club last night.