Ms Peta Humphreys, Dr Linda Stern
University of Melbourne
On-line resources can empower students in their quest to develop the library research skills essential for independent research. To this end, there has been an increase in on-line library information in the last few years. However, faced with a list of excellent resources, students do not always immediately know which ones to choose, and may need guidance. We have built a comprehensive interactive resource to ll this need; it gives students necessary guidance, at the same time that it saves valuable librarian time.
Just like a good lecture, this resource gives students the overall big picture, before going into details. The student can delve down into each topic as deeply as they wish. Material is presented in student-sized chunks, with a focus on interactivity and experiential learning. Along these lines, structured activities for each topic move students from theory to applying what they have learned to their own research.
A pilot study of this resource was presented at the THETA conference in 2015 (L Stern, P Humphreys, C Patterson, Just-In-Time learning for library research skills, THETA 2015). Since then, the resource has been rolled out to postgraduate students in the Melbourne School of Engineering at The University of Melbourne.
During this roll out, we have collected both objective and subjective usage information. Analysis of web logs over several semesters has shown trends in the numbers of students using the resource. We have also obtained more detailed information, such as patterns of use throughout the academic year.
Surveys every semester since the initial roll-out have provided quantitative and qualitative information as to the perceived usefulness of specific content areas and the appeal of various presentation methods.
We are currently delving more deeply into student perceptions in focus groups. Triangulation of these three data sources is expected to give us a rounded picture of the student experience. In addition to the data on usage, we have been surprised to discover what a critical component marketing is in student uptake. We predict that libraries will increasingly go the route of on-line resources, and we wish to share our experiences.