Title

Are online tutorials effective? A comparison of online and classroom library instruction methods

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

January 2005

Abstract

Librarians are conducting instruction sessions outside the traditional classroom setting using online tutorials with increasing frequency. Online tutorials seem like an obvious solution to meet the growing need for instruction to users in a time when resources are shrinking. Can librarians effectively teach library skills using an online tutorial? Approximately 300 students enrolled in an undergraduate psychology course at the University of South Florida Tampa Campus attended either a library research class or completed an online tutorial as part of their coursework. Participants were given a post-test and were surveyed about their confidence levels and preferred method of library instruction. Analysis of the test scores indicated that there was no significant difference in the learning outcomes between in-person and online library instruction. The majority of students indicated a preference for online instruction over classroom instruction. A rise in confidence levels was noted across both groups.Librarians are conducting library instruction outside the traditional classroom setting using online tutorials with increasing frequency. Online tutorials seem like an obvious solution to meet the growing need for instruction to users in a time when resources are shrinking. The rise in the number of distance learning courses, combined with the increase in electronic library resources and the availability of the campus portal to deliver library information anytime, anywhere, has led librarians to begin constructing online tutorials to teach basic library skills. Questions have arisen from instruction librarians and the literature about the effectiveness of online instruction. Are online tutorials as effective as librarians in teaching students how to conduct library research?This study, conducted during the Fall 2003 and Spring 2004 semesters, focused on students enrolled in an undergraduate psychology course. Students enrolled in this course normally attend a library orientation scheduled outside class time. An online tutorial was constructed and loaded into each instructor's course page. As part of their coursework to receive extra credit, students were given a choice to attend a library instruction session or complete the online tutorial. Both groups were given a post-test to both measure the effectiveness of the tutorial and classroom instruction session and gauge confidence level and satisfaction with the delivery method.

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.resstr.2006.12.012