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Planning Library Instruction Research: Building Conceptual Models with Theoretical Frameworks

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Abstract

Engagement with theories and theoretical frameworks in the planning and conduct of research about library instruction, in conjunction with the existing evidence base, can help researchers develop coherent conceptual models to justify the research approach and importance of the research produced. This column describes some of the limitations of common evaluation approaches that lack explicit theoretical framing and provides definitions of concepts that allow practitioners and researchers alike to explore and understand the complexities of educational encounters. Using an illustrative study with a theoretical framework applying sociomaterialism and related theories, this article presents arguments for in-depth explorations of informatics education through qualitative research.

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Assessment and feedback research constitutes its own ‘silo’ amidst the higher education research field. Theory has been cast as an important but absent aspect of higher education research. This may be a particular issue in empirical assessment research which often builds on the conceptualisation of assessment as objective measurement. So, how does theory feature in assessment and feedback research? We conduct a critical review of recent empirical articles (2020, N = 56) to understand how theory is engaged with in this field. We analyse the repertoire of theories and the mechanisms for putting these theories into practice. 21 studies drew explicitly on educational theory. Theories were most commonly used to explain and frame assessment. Critical theories were notably absent, and quantitative studies engaged with theory in a largely instrumental manner. We discuss the findings through the concept of reflexivity, conceptualising engagement with theory as a practice with both benefits and pitfalls. We therefore call for further reflexivity in the field of assessment and feedback research through deeper and interdisciplinary engagement with theories to avoid further siloing of the field.
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Background: In 2015, librarians at Purdue University began fielding requests from many disciplines to consult or collaborate on systematic review projects, and in 2016, health sciences librarians led the launch of a formal systematic review service. In 2019, Purdue University Libraries was reorganized as the Libraries and School of Information Studies (PULSIS) and assigned its own course designation, ILS. The increase in calls for systematic review services and the ability to teach ILS courses inspired the development of a credit-bearing ILS systematic review course. Case presentation: We designed, taught, and assessed a one-credit systematic review course for graduate students, using a backward-design course development model and applying self-determination theoretical concepts into lessons, assignments, and assessments. Using qualitative pre- and post-assessments, we discovered a variety of themes around student motivations, expectations, and preferences for the course. In quantitative post-class assessments, students reported improved confidence in all systematic review processes, with the highest confidence in their ability to choose and use citation management managers, describe the steps in the systematic review process, and understand the importance of a reproducible and systematic search strategy. Conclusions: We considered our pilot a success. Next steps include testing 2- and 3-credit- hour models and working to formally integrate the course into departmental and certificate curriculums. This case report provides a model for course design principles, learning outcomes, and assessments that librarians and library administrators can use to adjust their systematic review services.
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Background – Knowledge synthesis (KS) reviews are increasingly being conducted and published. Librarians are frequently taking a role in training colleagues, faculty, graduate students, and others on aspects of knowledge syntheses methods. Objective – In order to inform the design of a workshop series, the authors undertook a scoping review to identify what and how knowledge synthesis methods are being taught in higher education settings, and to identify particularly challenging concepts or aspects of KS methods. Methods – The following databases were searched: MEDLINE, EMBASE & APA PsycInfo (via Ovid); LISA (via ProQuest); ERIC, Education Research Complete, Business Source Complete, Academic Search Complete, CINAHL, Library & Information Science Source, and SocIndex (via EBSCO); and Web of Science core collection. Comprehensive searches in each database were conducted on May 31, 2019 and updated on September 13, 2020. Relevant conferences and journals were hand searched, and forward and backward searching of the included articles was also done. Study selection was conducted by two independent reviews first by title/abstract and then using the full-text articles. Data extraction was completed by one individual and verified independently by a second individual. Discrepancies in study selection and data extraction were resolved by a third individual. Results – The authors identified 2,597 unique records, of which 48 full-text articles were evaluated for inclusion, leading to 17 included articles. 12 articles reported on credit courses and 5 articles focused on stand-alone workshops or workshop series. The courses/workshops were from a variety of disciplines, at institutions located in North America, Europe, New Zealand, and Africa. They were most often taught by faculty, followed by librarians, and sometimes involved teaching assistants. Conclusions – The instructional content and methods varied across the courses and workshops, as did the level of detail reported in the articles. Hands-on activities and active learning strategies were heavily encouraged by the authors. More research on the effectiveness of specific teaching strategies is needed in order to determine the optimal ways to teach KS methods.
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Objective – Online library guides can serve as resources for students and researchers conducting systematic literature reviews. There is a need to develop learner-centered library guides to build capacity for systematic review skills. The objective of this study was to explore the content of existing systematic review library guides at research universities. Methods – We conducted a content analysis of systematic review library guides from English-speaking universities. We identified 18 institutions for inclusion using a Scopus search to find the institutions with the highest number of systematic review publications. We conducted a content analysis of those institutions’ library guides, coding for the types of resources included, and the stage of the systematic review process to which they referred. A chi-square test was used to determine whether the differences in distribution of the resource types within each systematic review stage were statistically significant. Results – The most common type of resource was informational in content. Only 24% of the content analysed was educational. The most common stage of the systematic review process was conducting searches. The chi-square test revealed significant differences for seven of the nine systematic review stages. Conclusion – We found that many library guides were heavily informational and lacking in instructional and skills focused content. There is a significant opportunity for librarians to turn their systematic review guides into practical learning tools through the development and assessment of online instructional tools to support student and researcher learning.
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This project report describes the rationale for moving a one-shot library teaching session on advanced searching for systematic reviews to a flipped classroom approach (e-learning ahead of face-to-face teaching) and the process this took. It examines the e-learning and active learning elements designed to support learners engage with challenging threshold concepts including subject headings. Learner feedback during, immediately at the end of each session, and in response to a follow-up impact survey is considered. Overall, learner feedback on the flipped classroom was very positive and teachers reported improved learner outcomes (formative in-class informal assessment). Areas identified for development are presented. The report extends the body of research on the use of the flipped classroom in information literacy and provides evidence that active learning techniques can be successful in increasing learner engagement and achievement even in a one-shot setting.
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Background: Undergraduate students across health professions are required to be capable users of evidence in their clinical practice after graduation. Gaining the essential knowledge and clinical behaviors for evidence-based practice can be enhanced by theory-based strategies. Limited evidence exists on the effect of underpinning undergraduate EBP curricula with a theoretical framework to support EBP competence. A systematic review was conducted to determine the effectiveness of EBP teaching strategies for undergraduate students, with specific focus on efficacy of theory-based strategies. Methods: This review critically appraised and synthesized evidence on the effectiveness of EBP theory-based teaching strategies specifically for undergraduate health students on long or short-term change in multiple outcomes, including but not limited to, EBP knowledge and attitudes. PubMed, CINAHL, Scopus, ProQuest Health, ERIC, The Campbell Collaboration, PsycINFO were searched for published studies and The New York Academy of Medicine, ProQuest Dissertations and Mednar were searched for unpublished studies. Two independent reviewers assessed studies using the Joanna Briggs Institute Meta-Analysis of Statistics Assessment and Review Instrument. Results: Twenty-eight studies reporting EBP teaching strategies were initially selected for review with methodological quality ranging from low to high. Studies varied in course duration, timing of delivery, population and course content. Only five included papers reported alignment with, and detail of, one or more theoretical frameworks. Theories reported included Social Cognitive Theory (one study), Roger's Diffusion of Innovation Theory (two studies) and Cognitive Apprenticeship Theory (one study). Cognitive Flexibility Theory and Cognitive Load Theory were discussed in two separate papers by the same authors. All but one study measured EBP knowledge. Mixed results were reported on EBP knowledge, attitudes and skills across the five studies. Conclusions: EBP programs for undergraduate health students require consideration of multiple domains, including clinical behaviors, attitudes and cognitive learning processes; Interventions grounded in theory were found to have a small but positive effect on EBP attitudes. The most effective theory for developing and supporting EBP capability is not able to be determined by this review therefore additional rigorous research is required.
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Systematic reviews are a well-established and well-honed research methodology in the medical and health sciences fields. As the popularity of systematic reviews has increased, disciplines outside the sciences have started publishing them. This increase in familiarity has begun to trickle down from practitioners and faculty to graduate students and recently undergraduates. The amount of work and rigor that goes into producing a quality systematic review may make these types of research projects seem unattainable for undergraduate or graduate students, but is this an accurate assumption? This commentary discusses whether there is a place for undergraduate and graduate students in the systematic review process. It explains the possible benefits of having undergraduate and graduate students engage in systematic reviews and concludes with ideas for creating basic education or training opportunities for researchers and students who are new to the systematic review process.
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Objective Online training for systematic review methodology is an attractive option due to flexibility and limited availability of in-person instruction. Librarians often direct new reviewers to these online resources, so they should be knowledgeable about the variety of available resources. The objective for this project was to conduct an environmental scan of online systematic review training resources and evaluate those identified resources. Methods The authors systematically searched for electronic learning resources pertaining to systematic review methods. After screening for inclusion, we collected data about characteristics of training resources and assigned scores in the domains of (1) content, (2) design, (3) interactivity, and (4) usability by applying a previously published evaluation rubric for online instruction modules. We described the characteristics and scores for each training resource and compared performance across the domains. Results Twenty training resources were evaluated. Average overall score of online instructional resources was 61%. Online courses (n=7) averaged 73%, web modules (n=5) 64%, and videos (n=8) 48%. The top 5 highest scoring resources were in course or web module format, featured high interactivity, and required a longer (>5hrs) time commitment from users. Conclusion This study revealed that resources include appropriate content but are less likely to adhere to principles of online training design and interactivity. Awareness of these resources will allow librarians to make informed recommendations for training based on patrons’ needs. Future online systematic review training resources should use established best practices for e-learning to provide high-quality resources, regardless of format or user time commitment.
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Helping students with systematic reviews goes against the instinct of many librarians, who see it as their duty to talk researchers out of these projects rather than to assist them. My perspective on helping students with systematic reviews changed after meeting with one student a few years ago. However, the question of whether the finished product will be publication worthy or entirely free of error is secondary, in my view, to other potential benefits to the student in completing the assignment.
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Objective: What roles do librarians and information professionals play in conducting systematic reviews? Librarians are increasingly called upon to be involved in systematic reviews, but no study has considered all the roles librarians can perform. This inventory of existing and emerging roles aids in defining librarians' systematic reviews services. Methods: For this scoping review, the authors conducted controlled vocabulary and text-word searches in the PubMed; Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts; and CINAHL databases. We separately searched for articles published in the Journal of the European Association for Health Information and Libraries, Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, the Journal of the Canadian Heath Libraries Association, and Hypothesis. We also text-word searched Medical Library Association annual meeting poster and paper abstracts. Results: We identified 18 different roles filled by librarians and other information professionals in conducting systematic reviews from 310 different articles, book chapters, and presented papers and posters. Some roles were well known such as searching, source selection, and teaching. Other less documented roles included planning, question formulation, and peer review. We summarize these different roles and provide an accompanying bibliography of references for in-depth descriptions of these roles. Conclusion: Librarians play central roles in systematic review teams, including roles that go beyond searching. This scoping review should encourage librarians who are fulfilling roles that are not captured here to document their roles in journal articles and poster and paper presentations.
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Objective – Evidence from systematic reviews a decade ago suggested that face-to-face and online methods to provide information literacy training in universities were equally effective in terms of skills learnt, but there was a lack of robust comparative research. The objectives of this review were (1) to update these findings with the inclusion of more recent primary research; (2) to further enhance the summary of existing evidence by including studies of blended formats (with components of both online and face-to-face teaching) compared to single format education; and (3) to explore student views on the various formats employed. Methods – Authors searched seven databases along with a range of supplementary search methods to identify comparative research studies, dated January 1995 to October 2016, exploring skill outcomes for students enrolled in higher education programs. There were 33 studies included, of which 19 also contained comparative data on student views. Where feasible, meta-analyses were carried out to provide summary estimates of skills development and a thematic analysis was completed to identify student views across the different formats. Results – A large majority of studies (27 of 33; 82%) found no statistically significant difference between formats in skills outcomes for students. Of 13 studies that could be included in a meta-analysis, the standardized mean difference (SMD) between skill test results for face-to-face versus online formats was -0.01 (95% confidence interval -0.28 to 0.26). Of ten studies comparing blended to single delivery format, seven (70%) found no statistically significant difference between formats, and the remaining studies had mixed outcomes. From the limited evidence available across all studies, there is a potential dichotomy between outcomes measured via skill test and assignment (course work) which is worthy of further investigation. The thematic analysis of student views found no preference in relation to format on a range of measures in 14 of 19 studies (74%). The remainder identified that students perceived advantages and disadvantages for each format but had no overall preference. Conclusions – There is compelling evidence that information literacy training is effective and well received across a range of delivery formats. Further research looking at blended versus single format methods, and the time implications for each, as well as comparing assignment to skill test outcomes would be valuable. Future studies should adopt a methodologically robust design (such as the randomized controlled trial) with a large student population and validated outcome measures.
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Objective: A critical element in conducting a systematic review is the identification of studies. To date, very little empirical evidence has been reported on whether the presence of a librarian or information professional can contribute to the quality of the final product. The goal of this study was to compare the reporting rigor of the literature searching component of systematic reviews with and without the help of a librarian. Method: Systematic reviews published from 2002 to 2011 in the twenty highest impact factor pediatrics journals were collected from MEDLINE. Corresponding authors were contacted via an email survey to determine if a librarian was involved, the role that the librarian played, and functions that the librarian performed. The reviews were scored independently by two reviewers using a fifteen-item checklist. Results: There were 186 reviews that met the inclusion criteria, and 44% of the authors indicated the involvement of a librarian in conducting the systematic review. With the presence of a librarian as coauthor or team member, the mean checklist score was 8.40, compared to 6.61 (p
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Building theory with ethnography and filmic research increasingly requires focussing on key practices or settings, instead of painting a broad panorama of a culture. But few authors discuss why and how to focus. This article provides a systematic discussion of the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of focusing ethnographic research by comparing different schools of thought and suggesting a practice theory-based approach. It argues that many research projects are focused but do not reflect on the process of focusing, describes how to identify focal settings or practices, and introduces sequential analysis as a tool for studying them. Analysing videos, documents and language are discussed in turn, and methods for ensuring quality in focused ethnography are suggested. Finally, the article provides recommendations for publishing focused ethnography as text or film.
Article
Objectives: This paper reviews why and how theories of agency can be used as analytical lenses to help health professions education (HPE) scholars address our community's wicked problems. Wicked problems are those that resist clear problem statements, defy traditional analysis approaches, and refuse definitive resolution (e.g. student remediation, assessments of professionalism, etc.). We illustrate how theories of agency can provide new insights into such challenges by examining the application of these theories to one particular wicked problem in HPE: interprofessional education (IPE). Methods: After searching the HPE literature and finding that theories of agency had received little attention, we borrowed techniques from narrative literature reviews to search databases indexing a broad scope of disciplines (i.e. ERIC, Web of Science, Scopus, MEDLINE and PubMed) for publications (1994-2014) that: (i) examined agency, or (ii) incorporated an agency-informed analytical perspective. The lead author identified the theories of agency used in these articles, and reviewed the texts on agency cited therein and the original sources of each theory. We identified 10 theories of agency that we considered to be applicable to HPE's wicked problems. To select a subset of theories for presentation in this paper, we discussed each theory in relation to some of HPE's wicked problems. Through debate and reflection, we unanimously agreed on the applicability of a subset of theories for illuminating HPE's wicked problems. This subset is described in this paper. Results: We present four theories of agency: Butler's post-structural formulation; Giddens' sociological formulation; cultural historical activity theory's formulation, and Bandura's social cognitive psychology formulation. We introduce each theory and apply each to the challenges of engaging in IPE. Conclusions: Theories of agency can inform HPE scholarship in novel and generative ways. Each theory offers new insights into the roots of wicked problems and means for contending with them.
Book
This book provides a practical approach for applying posthumanist insights to qualitative research inquiry. Adams and Thompson invite readers to embrace their inner – and outer – cyborg as they consider how today’s professional practices and everyday ways of being are increasingly intertwined with digital technologies. Drawing on posthuman scholarship, the authors offer eight heuristics for “interviewing objects” in an effort to reveal the unique – and sometimes contradictory – contributions the digital is making to work, learning and living. The heuristics are drawn from Actor Network Theory, phenomenology, postphenomenology, critical media studies and related sociomaterial approaches. This text offers a theoretically informed yet practical approach for asking critical questions of digital and non-digital things in professional and personal spaces, and ultimately, for considering the ethical and political implications of a technology mediated world. A thought-provoking and innovative study, this book will be of great interest to scholars and researchers of technology studies, digital learning, and sociology.
Article
As academic institutions continue to renovate and remodel existing libraries to include colocated services, it is important to understand how this new environment requires the redefining of traditional library roles and responsibilities. This case study examines how Delaware County Community College redefined reference and research service by transitioning to a triage reference model. This includes how information desk staff and student workers at a single service point determine when to refer users to librarians and how this model has evolved based on specific situations and experiences.
Article
There is a need for a robust research base for reference and information service (RIS), both for scholarship in the field and for effective decision-making in practice. While a number of studies have been conducted about the research of library and information science (LIS) in general, no analysis has been conducted on RIS research. Focusing specifically on research approach and methods, this study analyzes the journal literature for the decade 2000 to 2009. Of the 24% of papers that were research studies, most were quantitative descriptions of data. Qualitative approaches were rarely used. The results suggest that RIS is being studied from a limited perspective and could benefit from a greater diversity of approaches and methods.
Article
To determine whether librarian and information specialist authorship was associated with better reported systematic review (SR) search quality. SRs from high-impact general internal medicine journals were reviewed for search quality characteristics and reporting quality by independent reviewers using three instruments, including a checklist of Institute of Medicine Recommended Standards for the Search Process and a scored modification of the Peer Review of Electronic Search Strategies instrument. The level of librarian and information specialist participation was significantly associated with search reproducibility from reported search strategies (Χ(2) = 23.5; P < 0.0001). Librarian co-authored SRs had significantly higher odds of meeting 8 of 13 analyzed search standards than those with no librarian participation and six more than those with mentioned librarian participation. One-way ANOVA showed that differences in total search quality scores between all three groups were statistically significant (F2,267 = 10.1233; P < 0.0001). Problems remain with SR search quality and reporting. SRs with librarian or information specialist co-authors are correlated with significantly higher quality reported search strategies. To minimize bias in SRs, authors and editors could encourage librarian engagement in SRs including authorship as a potential way to help improve documentation of the search strategy. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Article
Objective The aim of the study was to investigate the information practices of medical scientists in the research work context.Methods This is a qualitative study based on semi-structured interviews. The interviews were transcribed and analysed in a web tool for qualitative analysis. Activity theory was used as the theoretical framework.ResultsThe generating motives for the information related activity come from the core activity, research work. The motives result in actions such as searching and using information. Usability, accessibility and ease of use are the most important conditions that determine information related operations. Medical scientists search and use information most of all in the beginning and at the end of the research work.Conclusions Information practices appear as an instrument producing activity to the central activity. Information services should be embedded in this core activity and in practice libraries should follow researchers' workflow and embed their tools and services in it.
Article
The question of capacity building in education has predominantly been approached with regard to the methods and methodologies of educational research. Far less attention has been given to capacity building in relation to theory. In many ways the latter is as pressing an issue as the former, given that good research depends on a combination of high quality techniques and high quality theorising. The ability to capitalise on capacity building in relation to methods and methodologies may therefore well be restricted by a lack of attention to theory. In this paper we make a case for capacity building with regard to theory, explore the different roles of theory in educational research, and provide an outline of an agenda for capacity building with regard to theory.
Article
Peoples' ability to obtain health information is a precondition for their effective participation in decision making about health. However, there is limited evidence describing which cognitive factors can predict the intention of people to search for health information. To test the utility of a questionnaire in predicting intentions to search for health information, and to identify important predictors associated with this intention such that these could be targeted in an Intervention. A questionnaire was developed based on the Theory of Planned Behaviour and tested on both a mixed population sample (n=30) and a sample of parents (n = 45). The questionnaire was explored by testing for internal consistency, calculating inter-correlations between theoretically-related constructs, and by using multiple regression analysis. The reliability and validity of the questionnaire were found to be satisfactory and consistent across the two samples. The questionnaires' direct measures prediction of intention was high and accounted for 47% and 55% of the variance in behavioural intentions. Attitudes and perceived behavioural control were identified as important predictors to intention for search for health information. The questionnaire may be a useful tool for understanding and evaluating behavioural intentions and beliefs related to searches for health information.
Research Synthesis in Graduate Research: A Scoping Review
  • L G Cobus-Kuo
  • G Genevieve
  • L Kloda
Advanced Research Skills: Conducting Literature and Systematic Reviews
  • K Dermody
  • C Farnum
  • D Jakubek
  • J A Petropoulos
  • J Schmidt
  • R Steinberg
E-Learning Objects and Actor-Networks as Configuring Information Literacy Teaching
  • T Schreiber