Reading lists, searching aptitudes and the Psychology department
Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/library/subjects/riu/concluded/
And so we have some results again. Iíve just finished writing up the Psychology reading list study we conducted over the past couple of months. Iíd love to say we found some shocking results, but it seems what weíve found pretty much supports some assumptions. Not that the timeís been wasted, oh no, because now we have comparative evidence from this year and last yearís cohort of students.
Thereís a full report available for library staff on the Library StaffWeb area as per usual, and Iíve just placed the executive summary on our main web area (follow the link above). If anyone would like to see the full report, then please do get in touch.
In terms of findings though what we discovered can be broken down into two areas: Students and reading lists, and students and searching. In terms of reading lists is does seem that students value their lists, and consider them very authoritative sources of guidance, which is good. However, they do seem to continue to focus only on reading what will get them through examinations and assessments Ė the proportion of students in this study who were willing to use the reading list to read around the subject (as it were) and engage with the wider scholastic realm was very few (less than 10%). This is certainly backed up by the work we did with Politics last year, where in interviews students said much the same. Is this due to time problems, competing demands or a lack of will? I donít know for sure Ė certainly this research doesnít delve into that area, though I might guess itís a mix of all there.
I know this is a real concern for academics, who would dearly love their students to take their subject to heart and become the academics and researchers of tomorrow Ė not exam passing, qualification obtaining work units. But thatís not really something the RIU can resolve Ė we can only point out what weíve found and perhaps suggest ways to assist in supporting any change to the mind set. Itís up to the academics to do something.
In terms of searching skills it does rather seem that students feel confident with knowing where to search and can use some good standard searching. They donít however; appear to be confident in using logical/Boolean searching and other such tools. Now this might well mean theyíre missing out on a lot of very interesting and relevant articles and resources. This is an area the library staff will be able to help out with training, mentioning and support.
Interestingly though from this study it does rather appear that students do not seek out the help or guidance of the academic nor library staff when it comes to deciding if articles or books they have found themselves are useful or accurate. They rely heavily on it either being blessed by appearing on the reading list or available in the Library. Letís just hope the science team here only ever purchase good books for psychology