The instruction of undergraduates in print and electronic information resources

Date of Completion

January 1995


Library Science|Education, Higher




The rapid increase of information resources and retrieval tools in both print and electronic formats has challenged scholars and students to develop new and highly-tuned skills in locating, evaluating, and synthesizing information. Undergraduate students' learning of information literacy skills in a discipline is dependent upon their instructors' attention to information resources in the curriculum.^ Although previous researchers have examined students' use of the library and faculty course requirements specifying the use of resources outside the textbook, little is known, particularly since the advent of computerized information retrieval systems, about the extent to which college faculty in different disciplines and institutions instruct students in information resources.^ In this study, a Likert type survey was sent to 1000 faculty at three Connecticut institutions to learn which types of print and electronic resources they use themselves and instruct their students to use, opinions of the way students should learn about information research, and whether students' literature searches were adequately carried out. Data were subjected to chi-square, analysis of variance, and t-test procedures to determine the influence of faculty members' academic discipline, type of institution, years of teaching experience, and part-time or full-time status on responses.^ Results of the study showed that a large percentage of faculty require undergraduates to use information resources, and comments indicated they believe information skills important, but most faculty prefer that librarians instruct students in the appropriate resources. Over half the respondents were satisfied with the academic quality of students' literature searches. Academic discipline seemed to have the greatest influence on the types of resources faculty use and instruct students to use, while years of teaching experience had little impact. The resources faculty prefer to use themselves were found to have a significant influence on the types of resources they recommend to students. Only a small percentage of faculty tell their students to use electronic mail and electronic journals, texts, and discussion lists. Significantly, many are not using these resources themselves. Faculty in Business and professional programs, as well as faculty in the Humanities are more active resource users and instructors than those in the Sciences and Social Sciences. These findings indicate where more emphasis on information literacy is needed. ^