Students and Graduates Learn Library Educational Content from Interactive Multimedia Tutorials

David Herron, Lotta Haglund


A review of:

Markey, Karen, Annie Armstrong, Sandy De Groote, Michael Fosmire, Laura Fuderer, Kelly Garrett, Helen Georgas, Linda Sharp, Cheri Smith, Michael Spaly, and JoniE. Warner. “Testing the Effectiveness of Interactive Multimedia for Library-User Education.” portal: Libraries & the Academy 5.4 (Oct. 2005): 527-54.

Objective –To demonstrate the effectiveness of interactive multimedia tutorials in delivering library educational content, and to evaluate librarian experiences of developing multimedia tutorials, both as part of the LUMENS (Drabenstott) project.

Design – User study (questionnaire and interviews) using pretest-posttest design.

Setting – Four academic libraries in the United States. One library dropped out during the course of the project.

Subjects – Ninety university students from the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), Purdue University, and the University of Notre Dame participated in the main study to evaluate three of the tutorials: “Doing research an introduction to the concepts of online searching,” “How to read a scientific paper,” and “Hungry for information?” Another group of 15 subjects from UIC, consisting of 10 graduate students, 2 faculty, 2 librarians, and one fellow, assessed a fourth tutorial “Keeping current in your field.” Librarians were interviewed about their experiences producing the interactive multimedia tutorials.

Methods – The 90 students were given a pretest containing questions about library educational content and five demographic questions. The students used the multimedia tutorial for 15-30 minutes and immediately afterward were given a posttest containing comparable questions to the pretest in terms of content and difficulty. The students were also asked to rate their experiences of using the tutorials in various ways on a scale from 0-10. At UIC, the experiences of the subjects using the multimedia tutorial were assessed by personal interviews. Librarians producing the multimedia tutorials were asked about their experiences of developing multimedia tutorials through e-mail, listserv discussion, phone calls, and face-to-face personal and group interviews.

Main results – All three libraries measured a significant increase (using a one sample t-test, p<0.001) in marks when comparing the pretest and posttest results. The changes in mean marks were UIC, 7.1 to 9; Purdue, 7.7 to 9.4; and Notre Dame, 6.2 to 9. The results show that the majority (>75%) of students were familiar with tutorial content before start. Despite this, most of the students found the tutorials useful and enjoyable, and the majority were fairly likely to recommend the tutorial to a friend. Interviews with subjects at UIC revealed similar experiences, except that the subjects were less familiar with the tutorial content at the beginning, and they were more likely to return to the tutorial for a refresher. The tutorial with the highest amount of interactivity was the most popular. The librarians found it difficult to find time to learn Macromedia Flash and to work within the LUMENS project generally. Eight out of 15 librarians remained with the project over the entire period.

Conclusion – Students learned library educational content by using multimedia tutorials and seemed to enjoy the experience, and educational librarians should lead multi-expert project teams in tutorial production. Finally, the educational value of multimedia tutorials must be offset from the time and effort needed to produce them.

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