Librarian-Led Information Literacy Training Delivered in Small Groups Improved Medical Students’ Confidence in Their Ability to Use Evidence Based Resources Effectively


  • Elizabeth Margaret Stovold St George's, University of London



evidence summary


A Review of:
McClurg, C., Powelson, S., Lang, E., Aghajafari, F., & Edworthy, S. (2015). Evaluating effectiveness of small group information literacy instruction for Undergraduate Medical Education students using a pre- and post-survey study design. Health Information & Libraries Journal. 32(2), 120-130.


Objective – To assess the effectiveness of librarian-led small group information literacy sessions, which were integrated into the second year of a three-year undergraduate medical course.

Design – A pre- and post-intervention survey questionnaire.

Setting – A large university in Canada.

Subjects – A cohort of 160 second year undergraduate medical students enrolled in the three-year programme of a large university in Canada.

Methods – As part of the redevelopment of the undergraduate three-year medical course, information literacy skills in evidence based medicine were integrated into the seminar and small group teaching programme. Every week for five weeks, 3 librarians each visited 4 small groups of 15 students to deliver a 15-minute session as part of a 2-hour long seminar led by practising physicians. The sessions did not include a formal hands-on component, however, students were encouraged to try out searches on their own devices. Each 15-minute session covered 3 learning objectives, including how to use PubMed clinical queries, how to use MeSH, and how to search for systematic reviews and guidelines.
A pre- and post-intervention survey design was used to assess students’ perceptions of the impact of these sessions. The students were asked to complete an online Survey Monkey survey before and after the five week lecture block. The questions covered resource selection, perception of barriers to finding evidence based information, and the students’ confidence in using evidence based resources. The data were analysed descriptively.

Main results – The pre-survey achieved a 90% (144/160) response rate while the post-survey achieved a 75% (112/160) response rate. The post-survey indicated an increase in the likelihood that students would use Ovid MEDLINE, carry out a literature search, and consult a librarian, with a decrease in those who would consult a print or online textbook. There was limited change in the students’ confidence that they could find answers quickly, but more of an increase in the proportion of students who were confident they could find systematic reviews and guidelines, and use search limits, PICO, and MeSH. Before the intervention, “knowing where to search,” devising a search strategy, and retrieving too many results were all thought to be obstacles by the students. After the small group training, students considered these issues less of a problem.

The post-survey also included an opportunity for the students to comment on their experience with the programme overall. Of the 54 responses received, 34 identified the library component as being the most important thing they had learned in the small group part of the course.

Conclusion – The authors conclude that integrating information literacy into the undergraduate curriculum as part of the small group seminar series is effective. They suggest future directions for research, such as a study to assess the impact of the training on specific skills rather than student confidence and evaluations of other teaching methods.


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Author Biography

Elizabeth Margaret Stovold, St George's, University of London

Information Specialist, Cochrane Airways Group




How to Cite

Stovold, E. M. (2016). Librarian-Led Information Literacy Training Delivered in Small Groups Improved Medical Students’ Confidence in Their Ability to Use Evidence Based Resources Effectively. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 11(1), 73–75.



Evidence Summaries

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