A Web-based Tutorial May Produce the Same Cognitive Outcomes as Face to Face Instruction

Gill Needham


A review of:

Beile, Penny M. and David N. Boote. “Does the Medium Matter?: A Comparison of a Web-Based Tutorial with Face-to-Face Library Instruction on Education Students’ Self-Efficacy Levels and Learning Outcomes.” Research Strategies 20 (2004): 57-68.

Objective – To determine whether library skills self-efficacy levels and learning outcomes of postgraduate education students varied with different instructional delivery methods, specifically Web-based or face to face.

Design – Pre- and post-intervention survey comparing three groups receiving different types of instruction.

Setting – Department of Educational Studies at a large U.S. urban university.

Subjects – Forty-nine masters, doctoral, and certificate-seeking education students enrolled in one of three sections of a research methods course. There were 40 female and 9 male students.

Methods – Immediately before receiving library instruction, the three student groups were asked to complete a library skills self-efficacy questionnaire, comprising 30 items designed to measure students’ perceptions of their ability to successfully perform library research. They also completed a library skills test, consisting of 20 multiple choice questions, designed to assess conceptual knowledge, knowledge of database searching, and institution-specific knowledge. The intervention groups were:

Group 1 (Sixteen students) – an on-campus class that received a face to face instruction session comprised of a 70-minute demonstration of key library databases followed by an activity that allowed students to practice their skills.

Group 2 (Nineteen students) – an on-campus class that received a Web-based tutorial comprised of four interactive modules, requiring an average 80 minutes to complete.

Group 3 (Nineteen students) - a Web-based class that received the same Web-based tutorial as Group 2.

The survey and test were repeated six weeks after the instruction.

Main results – Both self-efficacy scores and library skills test scores increased for all three groups post-intervention. Average self-efficacy levels increased from a mean of 68.88 (SD=19.92) to a mean of 91.90 (SD=16.24); library skills scores increased from an average score of 58.78 (SD=13.80) to an average of 73.16 (SD=12.65). There was no statistically significant difference between the post- intervention scores of the three groups on the library skills test. However, the Web-based students in Group 3 showed a statistically significant greater increase in self-efficacy score (78.86 to 102.36) when compared with Group 2 participants (64.74 to 83.68).

Conclusion – The study provides evidence that library instruction is effective in increasing both skill levels and self-efficacy levels. It does not give a clear indication of the relative value of different modes of delivery, but it does support the contention that Web-based tutorials are at least as effective as face to face sessions.

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