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What Are Undergraduates Thinking? Implications for the Reference Interview. Ethelene Whitmire American Library Association’s 8 th Annual Reference Research Forum Atlanta, Georgia June 2002. Overview. Theoretical foundation An empirical study

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What Are Undergraduates Thinking? Implications for the Reference Interview

Ethelene Whitmire

American Library Association’s 8th Annual Reference Research Forum

Atlanta, Georgia

June 2002


Overview

  • Theoretical foundation

  • An empirical study

  • Implications for reference & information services


Adult Intellectual Development Theories

  • Scheme of Intellectual and Ethical Development

  • Women’s Ways of Knowing

  • Epistemological Development Model

  • Reflective Judgment Model


Can be described with a high degree of completeness

Can be solved with a high degree of certainty

Experts usually agree on the correct solution

Cannot be described with a high degree of completeness

Cannot be resolved with a high degree of certainty

Experts often disagree about the best solution, even when the problem is considered solved.

Well-Structured vs. Ill-Structured Problems (Definition)


Converting a unit of measure between its English and metric equivalents

Solving for x in an algebraic equation

Calculating the trajectory of a rocket’s flight

Determining what really happened at the Hue massacre in Vietnam

Judging the adequacy of a theoretical proposition

Predicting how to dispose of nuclear waste safely

Well-Structured vs. Ill-Structured Problems (Examples)


Learn to reason to correct solutions

Learn to construct and defend reasonable solutions

Well-Structured vs. Ill-Structured Problems (Educational Goal)


The Three Phases of the Reflective Judgment Model

  • Pre-reflective thinking

  • Quasi-reflective thinking

  • Reflective thinking


University of Wisconsin at Madison Study

  • 15 first-year students

  • 9 women and 6 men

  • Variety of academic disciplines


Data Collection Methods

  • Interviews,

  • Instrument – Measure of Epistemological Reflection, and

  • Transaction log and verbal protocol analyses


Interviews – Two Pivotal Questions (#1)

  • “I really don’t trust the Internet on points of view because it’s just people’s perspectives”

  • “Usually I go to the first 10 or 20 sites that pop up, they tend to be the ones related to the issue. I also look at who it was published by” or

  • “I eliminated anything that went against my viewpoint”


Interviews – Two Pivotal Questions (#2)

  • “I talked to my professor to see what he thought about it”

  • “I would put it in my paper too because you can’t really give one side. You will have to give the opposite side too”


The Instrument - MER

  • Do you prefer classes in which the students do a lot of talking, or where students don’t talk very much?

  • Why do you prefer the degree of student involvement/participation that you chose above?


Transaction Log and Verbal Protocol Analyses

  • A preliminary questionnaire

  • Used Lotus ScreenCam

  • Two tasks

  • Searching the Internet

  • Searching the OPAC


Searching the Internet – Search Engines


Searching the Internet – Search Strategies


Searching the OPAC – Search Methods


Searching the OPAC – Search Strategies


Findings & Conclusions

  • Adult intellectual development levels influence the critical evaluation of information sources

  • Undergraduates need assistance with forming reflective judgments about information found in digital environments.


Implications for the Reference Interview

  • Peer-reviewed journals

  • Interdisciplinary indexes

  • Term papers


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