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Making the Connection: Assessing the Information Literacy Skills of First-Year Students Enrolled in a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) Program John Siegel, MLS, AHIP, Health Sciences Library System, University of Pittsburgh INTRODUCTION MATERIALS AND METHODS RESULTS
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Making the Connection: Assessing the Information Literacy Skills of First-Year Students Enrolled in a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) Program
John Siegel, MLS, AHIP, Health Sciences Library System, University of Pittsburgh
A total of 77 out of 80 first-year dental students completed the survey. Selected results follow.
Overview of Survey
Information Literacy Defined
A fifteen-question multiple-choice survey was designed to determine first-year dental students’ skill level in using specific information resources and familiarity with library services.
Four questions were asked about comfort level and past use of libraries for research purposes, defined as gathering information through one or more of the library’s resources, such as books, journals, the databases, or library’s webpage.
At the beginning of the Fall 2007 term, the investigator contacted the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine faculty member teaching the introductory professionalism in dentistry course required in the first year of the DMD program and received permission to survey students enrolled in the course. The author distributed the anonymous survey and collected responses during one class period.
According to the Association of College and Research Libraries (2006), information literacy is the “set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information.”
In the context of the above definition, information is not limited to written prose. Information also includes that which is communicated orally, visually, and numerically.
Past Library Use
Selected Breakdown of Incorrect & “Don’t Know” Responses, By Topic
Information Literacy Assessment
Information literacy research, including assessment, has been widely conducted at the undergraduate level. Fewer studies have been undertaken that examine the information literacy skill level of graduate students, particularly in the health professions. Such studies have mainly focused on medical school students and largely overlooked graduate students in other health professions.
Sample Survey Questions: Assessing Skill Level in Using Information Resources and Familiarity with Library Services
1. A journal article abstract:
____ Summarizes the article for the reader.
____ Includes a reference list for the reader.
____ Is usually several pages long.
____ I don’t know.
2. If you wanted to ask a librarian to help you come up with subject or search terms to find books or articles in the library’s catalog or electronic databases, the best place to visit in the library would be the:
____ circulation desk.
____ reference desk.
____ computer help desk.
____ I don’t know.
Survey results suggest that first-year graduate students information literacy skills may benefit from library instruction. Graduate students may not have high confidence levels with their skills. Therefore, library instruction may improve both information literacy and library competence levels.
HSLS is collaborating with the School of Dental Medicine to incorporate library instruction into the DMD program curriculum.
Snapshot of Dental Student Information Literacy
This research study assessed the information literacy skills of first-year students enrolled in a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) program at a major university.
Specifically, the investigator aimed to determine the students skill level in using specific information resources and familiarity with library services.
Association of College and Research Libraries. (2006, September 29). Introduction to information literacy. Retrieved April 4, 2008, from