“Just because the road ahead is long, is no reason to slow down. Just because there is much work to be done, is no reason to get discouraged. It is a reason to get started, to grow, to find new ways, to reach within yourself and discover strength, commitment, determination, discipline…”
The purpose of this research was to investigate what extent first years students participating in library instruction acquire information literacy skills. Through this research I hoped to determine if there was evidence of learning output from the library instruction sessions that complement GMIT’s Learning and Innovation Skills (LIS) module. Furthermore, it was endeavoured to obtain feedback for development of the library instruction sessions. My research question was clear and feasible and the deadlines given throughout the module ensured that I stayed focused. The instruction given throughout the module was excellent and the feedback was always helpful and reassuring.
As the library sessions had not been previously evaluated I sought to obtain feedback from both students and academics. Deciding to perform a student survey and academic interviews was part of the triangulated approach which was recommended as part of the research cycle methodology. The initial intention was to incorporate focus groups as part of the triangulated approach. However, due to time constraints I decided to omit this method and use the literature review as the third method. On reflection, attempting to a literature review along with a survey, interviews and focus groups was overly ambitious in the time frame available. I do not think there was a negative impact resulting from the elimination of the focus groups, the application of a triangulated approach ensures reliability and validity, using multiple methods to gather data while conducting primary research strengthens the research (Hesse-Biber, 2010). The most challenging of the three methods was the survey, as students were slow to engage. It was my expectation that at least 90 responses would be returned, however, 83 was the number returned within the time frame. With such a low response rate there is no evidence to suggest that the sample is representative of all first year students. Nevertheless, the results are valuable, as this small scale initial research gives an insight into students’ knowledge and awareness of information literacy.
From my experience completing the research I recognize that students learn information literacy skills through participation and engagement with library instruction. These findings are endorsed by the literature, as several sources indicate that students’ benefit and learn from library instruction (Oakleaf & Kaske, 2009 & McGuinness, 2006). How much they learn or benefit, according to the interview analysis, depends upon attendance, engagement and frequency of library use. The data was not difficult to analyse as the use of Survey Monkey, the free online survey software, facilitated the interpretation of results. Furthermore, the small sample of interviews comprising 10 academics meant that the use of Microsoft Excel was sufficient to conduct analysis. A larger sample set would have necessitated the use of more complex software such as NVivo.
The time frame was limited; as such planning and commitment were imperative to ensure all deadlines were adhered to. One of the most rewarding components of this module was presenting at the Research Cycle Conference, as it provided me with an extra platform to share my research. Engagement with the module has also resulted in further opportunities; I have been invited to present my research paper at the 2015 IIUG Library Conference. As a result of effective time management my written article was completed in timely fashion which allowed me to invest the necessary time to ensure a comprehensive presentation was prepared to disseminate my research. The research cycle module was both advantageous and rewarding, the support and encouragement received from Pauline and Barry was excellent.
Hesse-Biber, S. N. (2010). Mixed Methods Research: Merging Theory with Practice. New York: Guilford Press.
Marston, R. (1998). Long road ahead. Retrieved from http://greatday.com/ motivate/980417.html
McGuinness, C. (2006). What faculty think–exploring the barriers to information literacy development in undergraduate education. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 32(6), 573-582.
Oakleaf, M., & Kaske, N. (2009). Guiding questions for assessing information literacy in higher education. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 9(2), 273-286.
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