Just in time Course Guides provides an infrastructure that fosters cooperation between librarians and classroom faculty by allowing them to create course-specific guides that address students’ immediate information needs.
For the pilot project, each team member identified a faculty member to collaborate with in creating a unique course guide tailored to a specific course -- Freshman Composition Level One (ENC 1101), Freshman Composition Level Two (ENC 1102 Web enhanced using WebCT), and College Reading (REA 0010). The librarians chose these classes because they represent the majority of MDC library users. Each course was offered at a different campus.
Librarians began by contacting faculty members, reviewing course curricula, and addressing the informational concerns of the instructors. One of the main concerns was creating a tutorial dealing with basic searching techniques and other fundamental information literacy skills. The team made a list of modular components that became the content of a full-blown Using the Library tutorial.
As the project progressed, this information was coded in XHTML and later put into a Web template. The team hired an outside Web developer to create the SQL database and the application. The application has a student interface that displays the guides. There is also an administrative module that allows librarians to create, edit, and delete course guides.
As course guides are created, resources are stored in an SQL database that is a college-wide repository for information resources. Each course guide has various components, such as reference books, circulating materials, audiovisual items, articles, and Internet resources. Because resources are stored in a database, the course guides can be modified easily at the suggestion of the faculty member and as the requirements of the course change. Furthermore, the course guides are the final product of recommendations and suggestions of both classroom faculty and librarians. The strength of this project lays in the authoritative amalgamation a subject expert and an information expert.
To asses the validity and usefulness of the course guides, librarians created a simple five-question test. The classroom instructors administered the tests before and after the library instruction to each of the six sections. There were two sections of each course, one being the experimental group and the other the control group. The control group got traditional library instruction in the library. The experimental group got the same, with the addition of the online course guide that they could refer back to as needed.
From the three sections comprising the experimental group, 45 students took the pre-test and 36 the post-test. In the control group, 44 students took the pre-test and 39 the post-test.
While both groups showed progress by getting more correct answers on the post-test, the experimental classes improved more than the control group, which did not receive access to the course guides.
Just-In-Time Course Guides: Information Literacy for MDC Students
Summary Data of Pre and Post-Tests results with Analysis
The table below shows summary data of the test results. Columns B, C, E, and F show the percentage of correct answers for each group on the before and after tests. Row 9 shows the overall percentage of correct answers by averaging the results for each question.
While students in the control group improved on four of the five questions, the experimental groups showed improvement on every question. While both groups showed progress, the students in the experimental groups consistently got a higher percentage of correct answers on the post-test.
If one looks closely to the percentage of improvement, one will notice the considerable improvement of the control groups with the library instructions. This demonstrates the importance of in-class library orientations and instructions. Moreover, the experimental groups, with access to the course guides and tutorials produced as part of this grant, improved much more than the control groups. The experimental groups received the library instructions and access to the course guides.
It is interesting that the students in both groups had trouble with the question about what databases are for. The librarians know that many students are missing out on valuable database resources, but ironically, the tutorial in its current form is not as strong in this area as it will be. New tutorials and links to the various databases will be added to this project in the up coming months since the entire state library system and webpage will change as of January, 2004.
With this small assessment, one can determine the important of the course guides and this project in general. The original hypothesis that encouraged librarians to participate in this grant and construct the database and tutorials is proven. With this study, furthermore, course guides are confirmed to be an indispensable tool to instill information literacy in our students as it helps them succeed in their college studies.
||During the Fall 2003 semester, the team will present the course guides application to other librarians at all campuses. At Wolfson, Kendall and InterAmerican, these presentations took place during September 2003. Remaining campuses will be targeted for training in using and creating guides during the 2003 fall term. Other librarians will be encouraged to create subject and course guides and to submit enhancements or additions to the tutorial.
Classroom instructors who participated in the pilot project have arranged for librarians to present the course guides at their monthly departmental meetings. Team librarians have already contacted other instructors about creating course guides. Online course guides are an easy sell for faculty, and word of mouth should generate substantial interest. The team will offer a workshop for faculty on during Conference Day in March 2004.
The project will be publicized to the library and education communities at the state and national levels. An article will appear in the Fall 2003 issue of Florida Libraries, a professional journal for librarians in Florida. The team will present at the League of Innovations Conference on Information Technology, October 22, 2003, in Milwaukee. There is also a plan to present at the Florida Library Association Conference in Daytona, Florida in March of 2004.
The pilot project was costly and labor intensive, but that effort was required to create the foundation for the online course guides. Librarians and faculty can work together to create an unlimited number of course guides and general subject guides using this application. As more guides are created, the database will have more resources. It will become easier to create future guides.
The application is housed on a server at the Wolfson Campus. Trained librarians at all campuses will be able to add resources and create course and subject guides. Louise Lee, who did the technical work on the tutorial and template, will continue to maintain the Using Your Library tutorial and assist with coding the Introduction sections of guides. CNS staff at the Wolfson Campus will support the SQL database.