Faculty analyze research habits of students at Penn State Scranton

DUNMORE, Pa. — Penn State Scranton Reference Librarian Kristin E.C. Green and Lecturer in Communication Arts and Science James Hart presented their research project, “Information Overload: Assessing Source Usage in Student’s Reference Lists” at the Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) Conference held in Harrisburg last fall.  

Kristin Green and Jim Hart

Penn State Scranton Reference Librarian Kristin E.C. Green and James Hart, lecturer in communication arts and sciences and corporate communication internship coordinator, at the recent Pennsylvania Library Association Conference in Harrisburg, where they presented their research project.

Credit: Penn State

Hart and Green analyzed three of Hart’s CAS 100 classes in spring 2018 and surveyed the students as well. The main focal point of the presentation was to reveal the research of Penn State students’ usage of the references that were recommended and to analyze if those references were currently being used throughout their education at Penn State.

“Jim and I analyzed student reference lists from three of his CAS 100 classes in the Spring 2018 semester and surveyed all the students as well,” Green explained. “We primarily wanted to gain some insight into the information-seeking behavior of the students.

“Additionally, I wanted to gauge continued usage throughout the semester of the library databases that I introduce to the classes in the beginning of the semester. Numerically speaking, our data collection entailed analyzing 920 citations from 201 researched speech assignments and analyzing 72 surveys (with both qualitative and quantitative data).”

As Green pointed out, the presentation not only revealed data created from the analysis of the three classes, but it also became a lesson in collaboration between librarian and faculty instructor.

“The primary learning objective for this session is interpreting data generated from the analysis of student reference lists,” she said. “However, session attendees will also learn about the collaboration between the librarian and faculty instructor can be utilized to create a quality student experience.”

Essentially, the two faculty members determined a few aspects of the way the students in CAS 100 were doing research that then guided them to alter how they approached instruction for the Fall 2018 semester. 

“We are continuing to analyze the students' reference lists this semester, to see if the pedagogical changes we made have impacted the students,” added Green.

The continued investigation into the research results will be ongoing at Penn State Scranton, and will be an asset to the collaborative efforts of librarians and staff instructors.