Evaluating learning in library training workshops: using the retrospective pretest design

Mary McDiarmid, Malcolm Binns

Abstract


The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of an evaluation instrument using the retrospective pretest design to measure changes in participants' behaviour after library training. This article focuses on the measurement component of training evaluation the process of answering the question of how much change has occurred. Participants, who were from a large, public academic geriatric care centre in Toronto, included administrators, researchers, clinical and other staff, and university students doing field placements at the hospital. Participants attended one of four 1-hour sessions on the topic of Effectively Searching Google and Google Scholar that were held over a 3-month period. Sixty days post training, a self-administered retrospective pretest questionnaire, consisting of 10 searching behaviour statements developed using the learning objectives for the training session, was used to measure the impact of library training on participants' behaviour. Participants were asked to indicate their level of frequency of performing a searching behaviour described in the statement before and after training using a five-point, Likert-type scale ranging from 1, almost never; 2, seldom; 3, about half the time; 4, often; to 5, almost always. Summary baseline statistics are reported for respondents who never or rarely exhibited the behaviour prior to training. For the change measure, we report the simple percentage of respondents who improved. The findings of this study showed the potential of using the retrospective pretest to help librarians document the outcomes of library training. The benefits of gathering data using the retrospective pretest are discussed.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5596/c05-034

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