Students meet national average in research skills

Faith Griffin

Mabee Library’s ultimate goal is to successfully meet the expectations of the students and LibQual helps them to meet this goal.

The library has taken a Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy Skills test. The results were analyzed and explained by Judy Druse, acting assistant director for public services. This assessment tested 359 undergraduates, through Web-based and paper-based methods. Results were reported on 12 skill sets.

“The average student at Washburn performed on all standards at about the same level as the average student from all institutions combined,” said Druse.

According to the results, Washburn students overall do well in selecting search terms, developing a research strategy, scholarly communication/structure of disciplines, but still need improvement on evaluation and revising search results and documenting sources.

“The average student at Washburn was more likely to answer items on Skill Set 5 correctly than the average student from all institutions combined,” said Druse.

Results of LibQual reveals that library instruction does make a difference and the library helps users to be information literate.

The students enrolled in the Research Course, that the library offers are able to use scholarly communication constructing the search, understanding information retrieval systems, but still need improvement on identifying and distinguishing among types of sources, selecting finding tools, evaluating and selecting sources and economic, legal and social issues. Being enrolled in the research course had given students an advantage in learning how to use their library to their benefit.

From the LibQual results, librarians at Mabee Library have learned what the users want more of.

Students want more mini-trainings, a “cafeteria” of choices for library instruction, not-for-credit classes monthly, an introduction to the library, requirement for incoming students to attend a library orientation for-credit and general education class, according to Druse.

With the information that the results have provided, Mabee Library’s staff continue to work toward making the next step in shaping the library into one students want.

In Druse’s analyses she has developed suggestions on how to improve the library. These suggestions include adapting library instruction to new learning styles, promoting the role of librarians as teachers, exploring out-of class opportunities to promote information literacy, and collaborating with faculty and exploring new opportunities to more fully contribute to student learning. It also included investigating additional measure and methods to provide evidence of information literacy skills of WU students and making professors and students more aware of what the library has to offer.

Druse would like to see the library more involved with the new technology as a way to interest students. She suggests an instant message service for students.

“I think instant messaging would be great. You could message a question if the library is closed and you would have someone respond back to you,” said Stephanie Cress, junior criminal justice major.

As a transfer student from Highland Community College she sees a difference in the two libraries.

“I never used the library at Highland, but being at Washburn I have had to use the resources. I find the library very welcoming and easy to use,” said Cress.

Mabee Library also has focus groups to help make improvements. According to Washburn University Mabee Library Service Assessment Focus Groups, focus groups were conducted as part of the ongoing library service assessment regimen. Information gained from these sessions will be used in conjunction with the results of the previously administered LibQual, SAILS, and WOREP surveys to identify and plan enhancements to library service.