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Assessing Student Learning Outcomes from Reference Desk Interactions in an Academic Library: An Exploratory Study

  • Author(s): McCarthy, Patrick
  • et al.
Abstract

This paper presents the results of a preliminary study designed to examine the feasibility of conducting research into the learning outcomes associated with research consultation between reference librarians and university students. The researcher studied the teaching taking place at an academic library reference desk and assessed the student’s ability to apply what was taught to a new information need. The results indicate that participant awareness of library resources increased and their skill in searching online databases improved. Although participants demonstrated greater skill in identifying and obtaining useful information, they were unable to demonstrate an increased ability to assess the quality of the information acquired. The paper demonstrated that it is both possible and useful to assess the learning taking place at academic library reference desks.

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