Undergraduate Library Instruction in the Humanities Increases the Use of Books Over Journals. A Review of: Cooke, R. & Rosenthal, D. (2011). Students use more books after library instruction: An analysis of undergraduate paper citations. College & Research Libraries, 72(4), 334-343.
Objective – To assess the impact of in-classlibrary instruction sessions on the quantity,quality, and format of resources cited byundergraduate students. Design – Citation analysis and literaturereview. Setting – A public university in the UnitedStates with approximately 9,000undergraduate students. Subjects – Undergraduates in eight first-yearComposition I classes and five upper-levelHumanities classes at Florida Gulf CoastUniversity (FGCU). Methods – This study consisted of threecomponents. In the first, first-year studentswith little to no academic library experiencefrom eight classes of first-year Composition Iwere divided into two groups: those whoreceived library instruction and those who didnot. The instruction sessions were all taught bythe same librarian, were one-hour hands-onclasses held in a computer lab, and focused onbasic library information, searching thecatalogue, as well as searching journaldatabases. Later in the term, the citation pagesfrom papers submitted by the students as aclass assignment were analyzed by the authorswho looked at the average number of citationsemployed in each paper, the frequency ofscholarly citations, and the frequency ofsource/format type (e.g., book, article, website,etc.). SPSS was used for data recording, storage, and to calculate statistics (although it should be noted that the authors do not include any of the descriptive statistics that can be generated by SPSS). In the second component, which attempted to discern if there were any differences in the citations used by students from the different disciplines, the same form of citation analyses was performed on bibliographies from upper-level students enrolled in five History, Art History, Art, and English classes who had participated in a library instruction session in the past. The results of the two citation analyses (Composition I versus upper-level students) were then compared. The third component compared the results of the citation analyses to data extracted from five similar studies in order to determine if the FGCU findings were typical of undergraduate students or deviated from the norm. Main Results – The comparison of citations from the Composition I students showed that students who received a library instruction session had more average citations per paper (5.3 to 3.2); used slightly more scholarly sources (51.7% to 49.4%); were much more likely to use books (25.6% vs. 6.3%) or magazines and newspapers (18.5% vs. 9.6%) as a source; and were less likely to cite journal articles (16.3% vs. 27.3%) than their counterparts who received no library