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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 l.jpg

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 l.jpg
Overview Reference Interview

  • Theoretical foundation

  • An empirical study

  • Implications for reference & information services


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Adult Intellectual Development Theories Reference Interview

  • Scheme of Intellectual and Ethical Development

  • Women’s Ways of Knowing

  • Epistemological Development Model

  • Reflective Judgment Model


Well structured vs ill structured problems definition l.jpg

Can be described with a high degree of completeness Reference Interview

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)


Well structured vs ill structured problems examples l.jpg

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)


Well structured vs ill structured problems educational goal l.jpg

Learn to reason to correct solutions equivalents

Learn to construct and defend reasonable solutions

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


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The Three Phases of the Reflective Judgment Model equivalents

  • Pre-reflective thinking

  • Quasi-reflective thinking

  • Reflective thinking


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University of Wisconsin equivalentsat Madison Study

  • 15 first-year students

  • 9 women and 6 men

  • Variety of academic disciplines


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Data Collection Methods equivalents

  • Interviews,

  • Instrument – Measure of Epistemological Reflection, and

  • Transaction log and verbal protocol analyses


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Interviews – equivalentsTwo 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”


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Interviews – equivalentsTwo 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”


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The Instrument - MER equivalents

  • 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?


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Transaction Log and Verbal Protocol Analyses equivalents

  • A preliminary questionnaire

  • Used Lotus ScreenCam

  • Two tasks

  • Searching the Internet

  • Searching the OPAC



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Searching the Internet – equivalentsSearch Strategies



Searching the opac search strategies l.jpg
Searching the OPAC – equivalentsSearch Strategies


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Findings & Conclusions equivalents

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

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


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Implications for the equivalentsReference Interview

  • Peer-reviewed journals

  • Interdisciplinary indexes

  • Term papers


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