Skills Gained from University Library Instruction Sessions Are Perceived as Useful Four to Eight Weeks Later

Lorie A. Kloda


Objective – To assess the impact of a university library instruction program.

Design – Survey questionnaire administered post-intervention.

Setting – A mid-size science and technology university in Hong Kong.

Subjects – Student and staff participants in either course specific or open (elective) library instruction workshops.

Methods – Surveys were conducted to measure the perceived effectiveness of the library instruction program, including various types of course specific (CS) and open workshops (OW). Librarians responsible for teaching nominated the sample of workshops for evaluation. Students in all but one CS workshop were provided with a 14-question paper questionnaire in class by their course instructor, while participants in all of the open workshops and one CS workshop received the same questionnaire via e-mail. The questionnaires were distributed between four to eight weeks following the workshops in order to gauge the “enduring” impact of the instruction. Most questions were closed, forcing participants to choose an answer from a list or select from a 4- or 7-point Likert scale. Comments were also solicited. Results were summarised and analysed using SPSS software. The CS and OW questionnaires were studied separately to allow for comparisons between groups.

Main results – Out of 133 workshops taught in the fall of 2004, 25 were included in the sample: 15 CS and 10 OW. The overall response rate was 68%, with 466 participants completing questionnaires. Most participants indicated that the workshops were useful for learning about sources and search methods for finding information quickly. The majority (72.2%) responded that they felt an increase in confidence when conducting library research and slightly more than half (57.9%) agreed the workshops led to an increased interest in using the library. The responses differed significantly for the CS and OW groups: OW participants consistently rated the usefulness of the workshops higher than CS participants. In regards to retention of skills, 68.5% of participants responded in the affirmative when asked of they had continued using the skills taught, with rates ranging from 56 to 83% depending on the workshop. There was little difference in perceived retention between the CS and OW groups. The skills most frequently identified as having been learned included the abilities to “form better search strategies” and “find better Internet resources.” Written feedback included remarks on reducing class size and length, and increasing practice time and the number of handouts.

Conclusion – A “delayed perception survey” revealed positive feedback from library workshop participants on questions about confidence, usefulness, and retention of skills learned. There was a significant difference in confidence levels reported between CS and OW groups, with OW participants reporting higher levels of confidence. The researchers surmise this might be a result of self-selection, as OW participants volunteered both to attend the library instruction workshops and to respond to the survey questionnaire. The short questionnaire is an efficient tool for assessing the perceived usefulness of library workshops for both course-integrated sessions and elective workshops.


academic librariaship; instruction; assessment

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