Assessing the Effectiveness of Online Library Instruction with Finance Students

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Uppsala universitetsbibliotek]On: 07 October 2014, At: 08:42Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK

    Journal of Web LibrarianshipPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/wjwl20

    Assessing the Effectiveness ofOnline Library Instruction withFinance StudentsCurt G. Friehs a & Cindy L. Craig ba Kansas Public Libraryb State UniversityPublished online: 12 Dec 2008.

    To cite this article: Curt G. Friehs & Cindy L. Craig (2008) Assessing the Effectivenessof Online Library Instruction with Finance Students, Journal of Web Librarianship, 2:4,493-509, DOI: 10.1080/19322900802484438

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19322900802484438

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    http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

  • Assessing the Effectiveness of OnlineLibrary Instruction with Finance Students

    Curt G. FriehsCindy L. Craig

    ABSTRACT. Many academic librarians use online information literacytutorials as an alternative or a supplement to in-class library instruction. Tu-torials created with streaming media software such as Camtasia Studio havebecome increasingly popular. Librarians at a mid-sized Midwestern uni-versity have created several such tutorials demonstrating various library re-sources. The value of streaming-media tutorials is supported by key learningtheories such as cognitive load theory, dual coding theory, and multimedialearning theory. However, studies measuring the impact of online tutorialson student learning of information-literacy skills have shown mixed results.The authors tested the effectiveness of an online information literacy tutorialon a group of undergraduate business students. About 140 students in threeundergraduate finance classes rated a Value Line online tutorial. Studentswere also invited to complete a follow-up survey online with Blackboard.This survey measured student knowledge retention of Value Line and in-terest in online tutorials. The results showed that while students viewed thetutorial positively, they preferred face-to-face instruction from a librarian.Also, while most students could locate the proper links in Value Line, only30 percent were able to successfully look up a company. Indicators point toa future for online instruction coexisting with, yet not replacing, traditionalclassroom library instruction.

    Curt G. Friehs is Business Librarian, Kansas City, Kansas Public Library(E-mail: kckpl.lib.ks.us). He has a bachelors degree of business administrationin marketing and a masters degree in library and information sciences from theUniversity of Pittsburgh.

    Cindy L. Craig is Social Sciences Librarian, Wichita, State University(E-mail: cindy.craig@wichita.edu). She has a bachelors of specialized studiesin behavioral sciences from Ohio University. In addition, she holds masters de-grees in art therapy and library science from Emporia State University.

    Journal of Web Librarianship, Vol. 2(4) 2008C 2008 by The Haworth Press. All rights reserved.

    doi: 10.1080/19322900802484438 493

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  • 494 JOURNAL OF WEB LIBRARIANSHIP

    KEYWORDS. Web instruction, online tutorials, surveys, business, in-struction evaluation, outcomes assessment

    Designing effective online tutorials presents new opportunities for li-brarians and information professionals. Developing online tutorials thatare conducive to creating positive information literacy outcomes is criti-cal for several reasons. The digital interface of databases creates a needfor Web-based learning resources. Students receive continuous access todigital-library offerings. Learning resources that thrive in the tech environ-ment serve a complementary role with the digital resources themselves.

    A two-part survey was distributed to about 140 undergraduate businessstudents in finance classes after viewing an online finance-related tutorial.The assessment measures were used to ascertain end-user tutorial effec-tiveness. Also, a number of learning theories were examined and appliedin the process of creating online tutorials.

    ONLINE LIBRARY TUTORIALS: A VALUABLE TOOL

    The versatility of online information literacy tutorials has made them avaluable teaching tool for instruction librarians. An online tutorial can beused as a supplement to in-class instruction, as a backup method when anonline database is unavailable for a live demonstration, or as a stand-alonelesson. Online tutorials also appeal to faculty, staff, and students who arereluctant or unable to attend in-person instruction sessions.1

    Tutorials are designed to reach different audiences, including distanceeducation students, graduate students, and undergraduates. Many, such asthose adapted from the basic research skills tutorial Texas InformationLiteracy Tutorial (TILT), are aimed at students new to university librariesand college-level research. Some online tutorials focus on a specific re-source such as NetLibrary, ProQuest, or Cambridge Scientific Abstracts.2

    Many tutorials are interactive, employing quizzes, games, and surveys. Inone examplethe tutorial Doing Research at the Daley Library at theUniversity of Illinois at Chicagoconsists entirely of games using Macro-media Flash. In one module, users match synonyms, written on pieces ofpopcorn, with their corresponding keywords, written on popcorn buckets.3

    Streaming Media Tutorials and Relevant Learning Theories

    Though some authors have suggested best practices for designing on-line information literacy tutorials, no established set of standards exists.4

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  • Curt G. Friehs and Cindy L. Craig 495

    Because of this, online tutorials come in a wide variety of formats andstyles depending on the audience for the tutorials, the technical expertiseof tutorial creators, and the financial resources of the institution. Increas-ingly, tutorials that use streaming media are becoming popular. Softwareprograms such as Camtasia Studio and Qarbon Viewlet allow users toview captured footage of a database demonstration accompanied by voicenarration.5 The usefulness of streaming media tutorials, such as those de-signed at Wichita State University, is supported by some key learningtheories.

    Cognitive Load Theory: This theory, developed by John Sweller, positsthat minimizing the load on working memory, where new information isprocessed and stored, maximizes learning potential.6 One strategy to de-crease cognitive load is to engage the visual and verbal learning channelssimultaneously. This avoids the split-attention effect, which happens whenlearners have to switch back and forth between the two channels. Chunk-ing information into more easily-digestible bits also decreases cognitiveload.7

    Dual Coding Theory: Originally developed by Allan Paivio, dual codingrefers to two methods of encoding new information into memory, audio andvisual.8 Because the two codes do not compete with each other, learning isenhanced when audio and visual information are presented at the same time.Using both codes increases the chance of the learner recalling the material.Dual coding is especially effective if the audio and visual informationinteract in a relevant way, such as with a mnemonic device.9 By pairingaudio narration with animated screen capture footage, streaming mediatutorials help learners to organize and integrate new information, leadingto a deeper understanding of the material.10

    Multimedia Theory: Richard Mayer borrowed elements of learning the-ories, including cognitive load theory and dual coding theory, to develophis own theory of multimedia learning.11 From this theory, Mayer de-veloped several principles of multimedia design. According to his spatialand temporal contiguity principles, students learn better when words andpictures are shown close together and at the same time. Mayers coher-ence principle states students learn better without extra words, pictures,or sounds. According to the modality principle, which is similar to dualcoding theory, students learn better from pairing animation and narra-tion (visual and audio) than from animation and on-screen text (visualonly). Finally, students learn better from animation and narration thanfrom animation, narration, and on-screen text, according to the redundancyprinciple.

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  • 496 JOURNAL OF WEB LIBRARIANSHIP

    Composition and Effectiveness of Tutorials

    In her much-cited article, Nancy Dewald suggested pedagogical guide-lines for online tutorials.12 For instance, online tutorials should have inter-active features such as games, a hyperlinked structure, or quizzes that giveimmediate feedback. The interactivity of tutorials stimulates active learn-ing by supporting students intrinsic motivation to learn. The interactivityof tutorials has been stressed by many in library science literature as beingintegral to success.13 Dewald called interactivity the online hallmark ofactive learning.14

    However, there is little data to support this widely held belief aboutlibrary tutorials, though there may be some evidence to the contrary.One extensive review of studies revealed that constructivist teaching ap-proaches (also called discovery or experiential), while widespread, arenot effective.15 In fact, minimally guided learning activities, such as gamesor simulations, may minimize learning by increasing cognitive load. Theresearchers found that inexperienced learners benefit more from structuredapproaches, such as process worksheets. Process worksheets describe thephases a learner should go through when solving a problem and hints forsuccessful completion of each phase. When it comes to library instructiontutorials, having a student conduct a guided search through a database maybe more effective than, for example, a Flash game that has students matchpictures with appropriate terminology. Paul A. Kirschner, John Sweller,and Richard E. Clarks article casts some doubt on the effectiveness ofinteractivity and points to an issue that needs further study in relation tolibrary tutorials.

    Although online tutorials have intuitive appeal as a teaching tool, do stu-dents really learn from them? Rachel G. Viggiano surveyed several studiesof online tutorials and concluded they are as effective as in-person libraryinstruction, although more study needs to be done.16 At the University ofIllinois at Chicago, thirty undergraduates completed a test before and aftera Flash-based tutorial. The students averaged nine correct answers (outof ten) on the post-test. They also rated the tutorial highly in usefulness,enjoyability, uniqueness, and appropriateness to education level.17

    Library Research Success was an online tutorial designed especiallyfor undergraduate business students at Seneca College in Toronto. Evalua-tive testing was determined by the results of two graded assignments relatedto the tutorial and feedback forms. All 600 students got passing grades onthe assignments. More than 80 percent of the students rated aspects of thetutorial, including research skills, content, instructional delivery methods,

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  • Curt G. Friehs and Cindy L. Craig 497

    and presentation as excellent or good. However, 64 percent of thestudents rated the overall value of the tutorial as only fair.18

    Librarians at Washington State University measured the use and effec-tiveness of four online tutorials, two text-based and two using streamingmedia. After viewing one of the four tutorials, 98 students were quizzedabout tutorial content and surveyed for attitudes and usage patterns. Al-though the students reported a high level of confidence in using libraryresources in the post-tests, they scored poorly on the quizzes. However,distance-education students scored better than those on campus. The re-searchers were unclear as to whether student learning was successful.19

    WSU Libraries Online Tutorials: Wutorials

    Starting in summer 2006, reference and instruction librarians begana project to create online tutorials using Camtasia Studio software. Thelibrarians decided to call these tutorials Wutorials, reflecting the nameof the WSU mascot, the Wu Shock. Each subject librarian was requiredto create at least one Wutorial. The Wutorials created so far demonstratehow to access databases from off campus, how to use the online catalog,how to construct a search string, and how to use the Business & CompanyResource Center and Value Line databases. The Wutorials are kept brief(between three and five minutes) in order to hold the interest of viewers.

    To create a Wutorial, the librarian must choose a database or resourceto highlight in a tutorial. Because there is no formal process for this,choosing a resource is left to the discretion of the librarian. For instance,the business librarian noted students frequently asked him questions duringbibliographic instruction sessions about how to locate and choose the beststocks. Therefore, he decided a Wutorial about the Value Line databasewould benefit many business students.

    Once a database is chosen, the librarian writes a script for the tutorial.Since databases have a variety of features and functions, the librarian mustcarefully choo...

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