Lack of Congruence between Analyses and Conclusions Limits Usefulness of Study of Socio-cultural Influences on Student Choice of LIS

Diana K. Wakimoto


A Review of:
Moniarou-Papaconstantinou, V., Tsatsaroni, A., Katsis, A., & Koulaidis, V. (2010). LIS as a field of study: Socio-cultural influences on students’ decision making. Aslib Proceedings: New Information Perspectives, 62(3), 321-344.

Objective — To determine how social and cultural factors influence students’ decision to study library and information science (LIS) as undergraduates.

Design — Semi-structured interviews and quantitative analysis of questionnaire data.

Setting — Three schools in Greece with LIS programs at the undergraduate level.

Subjects — One hundred eighty-seven first-year students enrolled in Greece’s LIS schools’ undergraduate programs in the autumn semester of the 2005-2006 academic year.

Methods — The authors piloted the questionnaire with 52 students at the LIS school in Athens and had three faculty members review the questionnaire. After modification, the two-part questionnaire was administered during the first week of classes to all first-year undergraduate students enrolled in Greece’s three LIS schools. The first section of the questionnaire collected data on student gender, age, area of residence, school from which they graduated, and parental occupation and level of education. The second part of the questionnaire covered students’ reasons for choosing LIS as a field of study, the degree to which students agreed with dominant public views (i.e., stereotypes) of librarianship, and practical issues that influenced students’ decision-making processes. The authors conducted two rounds of semi-structured interviews with students from the same 2005-2006 cohort. They interviewed 41 self-selected students and then interviewed a purposive sample of 15 students from the same cohort in the fifth semester of the students’ studies.

Main Results — The questionnaire was completed by 187 LIS students, with 177 responses considered relevant and used in the analyses. Demographic information showed that 78% of the respondents were female, 85.8% were from urban areas, and 98.9% graduated from public schools. The authors constructed two indices to assist with further analyses: the Educational Career Index, which quantified students’ educational experience prior to study at the university, and the Divergence Index, which was created by comparing students’ university entrance exam scores and students’ ranking of LIS as a preferred field of study. The authors determined that 65% of the variance in the data was explained by two factors: students’ responses to library stereotypes and students’ self-reported reasons for choosing to study LIS. The self-reported reasons for studying LIS were combined into four variables (extrinsic reasons, intrinsic professional reasons, intrinsic academic reasons, and intrinsic social reasons) to be used in the multivariate analysis of variance tests (MANOVAs).

Three distinct clusters of students were found using the indices and parental education level in cluster analysis: Cluster 1 (low parental education, low Educational Career, and low Divergence indices scores), Cluster 2 (intermediate parental education, high Educational Career, and low Divergence scores), and Cluster 3 (high parental education, high Educational Career, and low Divergence scores). For three of the factors for choosing the LIS field (intrinsic professional reasons, intrinsic academic reasons, and intrinsic social reasons), Cluster 1 showed statistically significant differences (p<.05) from Cluster 2. Cluster 1 showed statistically significant differences (p<.05) from Cluster 3 for two aspects (intrinsic academic reasons and intrinsic social reasons). Cluster 2 and Cluster 3 showed no statistically significant differences.

Conclusion — The authors concluded that students with different socio-cultural characteristics have different reasons for choosing LIS as a field of study and differ in their abilities to make competent decisions about their education. Students with high socio-cultural resources choose LIS for its intrinsic values and are able to make competent decisions. Students with low socio-cultural resources cannot make informed decisions regarding their chosen career paths and choose LIS purely for the prospect of future employment.


LIS education; student choice; evidence summary

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