This event has ended. Visit the official site or create your own event on Sched.
Wednesday, February 7 • 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Session 2.2C - Juried Paper: Developing Research Practitioners: Exploring Pedagogical Options for Teaching Research Methods in LIS.

Sign up or log in to save this to your schedule and see who's attending!

This paper reports on an investigation into the effectiveness of teaching research methods to master’s-level students in library and information studies programs. The research focused on a required research methods course taught every fall and spring at an American Library Association-accredited program. The research explored outcomes of the strategies used to teach the course in four semesters: Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, and Spring 2016. In Fall 2013 and Spring 2014, course content was delivered in a blended format using asynchronous lesson delivery and biweekly face-to-face class sessions, and students completed individual research proposals via an iterative process where they received feedback and a chance for modification after each stage. In Fall 2015 the course was taught online asynchronously and students completed the research proposal in teams. In Spring 2016, the course was again taught online with biweekly synchronous sessions, and the research proposal was replaced with an experiential learning approach in which the students worked in teams to conduct a complete research project for an outside client. The same textbook was used across all four semesters and similar course content was covered.
The LIS community is engaged in a long-term debate about how best to teach research methods in LIS programs, especially considering the challenge inherent in the diversity of student academic backgrounds, with many coming into LIS graduate programs with little or no research or statistics background and with anxiety about learning these subjects (Dilevko, 2000). And “many students who do take a basic course in research methods often cannot see the practical applicability of the course” (Berg, Hoffman, & Dawson, 2009, p. 593). In light of this, LIS research methods courses must explain what research is, why research is done, the purpose of research, and how to use research (Juznic & Urbanija, 2003). Furthermore, research is becoming more important for LIS practitioners as professionals—90% of US/Canadian LIS practitioners read at least one research journal, half apply research findings to their practice, and 42% occasionally or frequently perform research either in their job or for the profession (Juznic & Urbanija, 2003). Also, it is important for have LIS practitioners to contribute to the professional knowledgebase through research (Evans, Dresang, Campana, & Feldman., 2013). In light of this, there is a need to develop new strategies to teach research methods in LIS programs (Juznic & Urbanija, 2003), such as offering hands-on experience collecting and analyzing data (Evans et al., 2013).
The research addressed three questions: To what degree the different approaches to the research proposal/research project assignment affected (1) students’ achievement of course learning objectives, (2) students’ views of research after completing the course, and (3) students’ engagement with research after completing the course. To answer these questions the researchers developed a survey consisting of 20 closed-ended questions covering three categories: respondents’ experience with the course, their current use of research, and their opinion of research. Invitations to take the survey were emailed to 54 former students; 20 surveys were completed, a 37% response rate. Of the completed surveys, 35% represented students in the Fall 2013/Spring 2014 courses (N=7), 30% represented students from the Fall 2015 course (N-6), and 35% represented students from the Spring 2016 course (N=7). Due to the low Ns for the subsets, the researchers decided to analyze the responses for all respondents rather than breaking out the results by semester.
To gauge achievement of course learning objectives respondents were asked 11 multiple-choice questions querying their retained knowledge of course content. On all but three questions, 75% or more of respondents answered correctly and 90% or more answered four questions correctly. Students reported having a relatively high comfort level with research skills after they finished the course: when answering a series of 15 questions, the median response for all of the questions fell into the top two categories on a five-point scale, with respondents reporting being “somewhat comfortable” with ten areas of research skills and “very comfortable” with five areas.
To understand the respondents’ views of research after completing the course, respondents were asked for their views of the importance of research to the LIS field and for their jobs. All of them report that research is important to the field, and 60% report that it is important for their jobs.
The final area explored was respondents’ engagement with research after completing the course. When asked about research activities they conduct at work, the top activities reported are accessing research articles to assist patrons (55%), reading research articles for work-related projects (40%), and accessing research articles for work-related projects (35%). However, 40% of respondents reported not using research at work. Respondents were asked about their level of comfort in completing research tasks now. All reported feeling “very comfortable” with evaluating the quality of published research. They reported feeling “somewhat comfortable” with the majority of other tasks queried (such as writing a literature review; conducting surveys, interviews and content analyses, and analyzing quantitative and qualitative data). They were “not at all comfortable” with conducting focus groups and experiments and publishing research findings. Finally, when asked a series of questions about their engagement with research, the top responses were related to reading and using research articles, understanding how to conduct original research, and understanding key issues of research ethics. Respondents disagreed with statements connected to enjoying conducting research and believing that the research they gather through original research has an impact on their jobs.
These initial results show promise for further research in the pedagogy of LIS research methods courses. Survey respondents demonstrated achievement of and retention of course learning objectives and a generally positive attitude toward research. Further research is needed to understand the interplay of specific course delivery methods (e.g., blended online versus asynchronous) and pedagogical methods such as an experiential learning approach. This research demonstrates the limitations of conducting research on small samples from individual LIS programs; expanding this research to include more programs and courses may prove fruitful.
Berg, S. A., Hoffman, K., & Dawson, D. (2009). Integrating research into LIS field experiences in academic libraries. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 35(6), 591-598.
Dilevko, J. (2000). A new approach to teaching research methods courses in LIS programs. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 41(4), 307-329.
Evans, A., Dresang, E., Campana, K., & Feldman, E. (2013). Research in action: Taking classroom learning to the field. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 54(3), 244-252.

Wednesday February 7, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Meadowbrook II

Attendees (12)