Assessing the Impact of Individualized Research Consultations on Students' Search Techniques and Confidence Levels

Title: Assessing the Impact of Individualized Research Consultations on Students' Search Techniques and Confidence Levels
Authors: Sikora, Lindsey
Fournier, Karine
Date: 2016-05
Abstract: Objectives Studies dedicated to the assessment of individualized research consultations (IRCs) are scarce, with few using pre- and post-test methodologies. Our study's primary goal is to evaluate the impact of IRCs on health science students' search techniques and confidence levels, before and after meeting with a librarian. Secondary objectives include identifying factors influencing students' self-perceived search techniques' proficiency and confidence levels. Methods Our study's population included students completing an undergraduate or graduate degree, undertaking a research or thesis project. In order to assess the impact of IRCs on students' search techniques, a mixed methods approach was selected. Pre- and post-testing were used, as well as interviews. Participants were invited to complete two questionnaires, before and after meeting with a librarian. The questionnaires consisted of both open-ended and self-reflective questions. The open-ended questions assessed students' search techniques (keywords, subject headings, Boolean operators). The self-reflective questions were used to assess students' self-perceived search techniques proficiency, their confidence level, and lastly, their expectations (before) and their satisfaction (after) of the IRC. A rubric was used to score students' open-ended questions. Self-reflective questions were coded and analysed for content. Results With a small sample size (n=9) generated from our first round of data collection, we decided to conduct a second round of data collection (January to June 2016). Preliminary results from Round 1 of data collection indicated a slight increase in the mean score (comparing pre- and post-tests), demonstrating an improvement in the student’s appropriate use of keywords and search string structure. Several of the students, however, did not provide their keywords and search string; therefore, our results are extremely skewed. Self-reflective questions indicated that students had mixed views on their confidence level before meeting with a librarian, especially regarding locating relevant sources. However, once they met with a librarian, and were able to have a better understanding of their question, their confidence levels improved. Conclusion We believe that we will be better able to quantify our results with our second round of data collection. That being said, while our results are preliminary, this is a start at quantifying individual research consultations’ impact on students’ search techniques, in order to better understand how to help students select appropriate keywords (and subject headings) and build a more accurate search string. Further research into disciplines beyond health sciences and medicine should be explored, as the resources to search are vastly different.
CollectionBibliothèque - Publications // Library - Publications
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