The Use of an Embedded Librarian to Enhance Student Information Literacy Skills: A Pilot Study

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This pilot study explored an embedded librarian (EL) intervention to enhance occupational therapy student information literacy skills development. The EL provided computer laboratory and in-class instruction, online presence in the classroom website, and extensive office hours to assist students in the identification of information needed, determination of how and where to find scholarly information needed, and assessment and utilization of information retrieved to meet assignment requirements. Participants were 46 third-year (junior) occupational therapy students. Three tools were used to assess skills pre and post intervention: the Student Assessment of Information Literacy Skills, the Student Perception of Literacy Skills-Q (SPIL-Q), and database tracking of frequency, kind (in-person versus email), and topic (citation formatting, database search term development, etc.) of student visits. These were analyzed via percentage of change and compared with course grade via Pearson r correlation tests. Results: Students showed limited improvement on the quantitative SAILS test (2%), but 31% (n=14) perceived increase in overall information literacy skills on the SPIL-Q, particularly in finding information needed for assignments. Correlation analyses revealed a moderate, positive correlation (r = .600, p < .05) between those who made in-person inquiries to the EL related to defining the need for information and overall course grade. Responses to the question of why students accessed/did not access the librarian outside of class were grouped into general themes. Results suggest occupational therapy educators and students might benefit from explicit instruction and in-person modeling of identification of information needed and database search techniques to locate best evidence for practice decisions and to emphasize this as a lifelong requirement of client-centered care.




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