First-Year Library Student Assistants Have Better Information Literacy Skills, and Demonstrate a Larger Increase in these Skills, Compared to Their First-Year Peers
AbstractA Review of:
Folk, A. L. (2014). How well are we preparing them?: An assessment of first-year library student assistants’ information literacy skills. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 21(2), 177-192. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10691316.2013.829377
Objective – To examine the information literacy skills of first year library student assistants, in comparison to first year students who are not library assistants. Additionally, the study investigates whether information literacy skills of library student assistants increased more than those of the general student population during their first semester at college.
Design – Pretest/posttest.
Setting – Two regional campuses of a research university in the United States of America.
Subjects – First-year students, including library student assistants and students in the Freshman Seminar course. At one regional campus, 103 first-year students, including 5 library student assistants, completed the pretest. At the same campus, 75 first year students, including 5 library student assistants, completed the posttest. At the other campus, 30 first-year students, including 3 library student assistants, completed the pretest, and 26 first-year students, including 2 library student assistants, completed the posttest.
Methods – The researcher distributed a pretest and posttest that included demographic questions and 11 items related to information literacy to first-year students. The pretest was given within the first two weeks of the fall semester, before the students attended library instructional sessions. At one campus, the library student assistants took the pretest at the beginning of their first shift, while at the second campus, the library student assistants completed the pretest within the first two weeks of the semester. The posttest was given to participants within the last two weeks of classes during the fall semester.
Main Results – On the pretest, the library student assistant scores ranged from 6 to 10, out of a maximum of 11 points. For the posttest, these students had scores that ranged from 8 to 11. Both of these score ranges were higher than the mean score of the general first-year students.
The mean of the pretest scores of the general first-year students was 5.95 points out of 11 points with a mean score of 54.1%, while the mean of the pretest scores for the library student assistants was 8.13, or 73.9%. The mean of the posttest scores for the general first-year students was 7.29, or 66.3%, while the mean of the posttest scores for the library student assistants was 9.43, or 85.7%. No students earned a perfect score on the pretest. On the posttest, 29% of the library student assistants scored a perfect 11 points, while only 4% of the general first-year students earned a perfect score.
In comparing pretest to posttest scores, the general first-year students’ mean score increased 1.34 points, while the mean score of the library student assistants increased by 1.3 points. The library student assistants scored higher than the general first-year students on both the pretest and posttest; these numbers are statistically significant. The author reports that the increase in the mean scores from the pretest to the posttest for the library student assistants is not statistically significant. On the other hand, the increase of the mean scores from the pretest to the posttest for the general first-year students is statistically significant (p. 186).
Conclusions – The author concludes that the information literacy skills of first-year library student assistants are better than general first-year students. This information is valuable to librarians who wish to gauge how well they are doing in regards to teaching information literacy skills to library student assistants. Additionally, librarians can better understand how their instruction is contributing to the library student assistants’ educational experiences in general as well as their future as lifelong learners.
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