Information skills training

Facts and figures

Information skills, or information literacy (IL), training in the three libraries can be compared to some extend. As our universities, faculties and hospitals are not the same size — the numbers of students, researchers and clinical staff are not comparable — and as the organization of the training is varied, it is not useful to compare mere numbers. The most useful numerical comparison is probably hours per library staff members. These statistics are from year 2013:

  • NTNU’s BMH library gives about 220 hours of user training per year for about 1200 participants. This 22 hours and 120 participants per staff member though all staff members do not teach.
  • UCL’s BSS library gives about 75 hours of user training per year for about 2770 participants. This is about 8,5 hours and about 86 participants per staff member though all staff members do not teach.
  • UEF’s KUH library gives about 43 hours of user training per year for about 530 participants. This is about 8,5 hours and about 106 participants per staff member though all staff members do not teach.
    • The KUH numbers do not include the working hours spent in Moodle online learning environment where most of the teaching is conducted; two staff members of KUH medical library are responsible for the online courses for about 350 undergraduate medical, dental and other health sciences students per year.

These numbers tell only a part of the story. By taking a look at the teaching methods — lectures, hand-on sessions, assignments etc. — and contents of the courses, we get some qualitative data, too. We notice that comparing numbers provides some answers but also arises new questions, and interesting paths towards a deeper understanding of each others’ activities.

The teaching methods

Lectures are held in all our organizations (in Brussels, Kuopio, Trondheim). Hands-on sessions are organised in Brussels, Kuopio and Trondheim. There are no assignments in Brussels; in Kuopio usually, and in Trondheim sometimes, but not at all the courses. Exams are rare: in Brussels there can be exams — depending on the professor who asked for the course — but in Kuopio and Trondheim there are no exams.

In Brussels online courses are not given yet; in Kuopio almost all courses in Finnish for undergraduate students are online in Moodle, but courses for international students in English and courses for doctoral students / postgraduates are blended, and some of them using the flipped-classroom model; in Trondheim NTNU Library has developed VIKO; an online  guide to finding information and academic writing and BMH is preparing an online course for Zotero, that they also are planning to use as part of a flipped classroom course.

Also 1-to-1 support is offered in all the three libraries.

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Classroom in Trondheim

The contents

The list of databases covered includes but is not limited to:

  • Academic Search Premier: Brussels
  • Best Practice: Trondheim
  • Cinahl: Kuopio, [edit:] Trondheim
  • Cochrane Library: Kuopio, Trondheim
  • Embase: Trondheim
  • Google Scholar: Trondheim
  • Medline/PubMed: all three
  • PsycAtricles: Brussels
  • PsycInfo: Brussels, Kuopio, [edit:] Trondheim
  • Science Direct: Brussels
  • Scopus: all three
  • UpToDate: Kuopio (only hospital), Trondheim
  • Web of Science: Kuopio, Trondheim

In addition, Trondheim teaches also other resources from the Norwegian Health library, and Kuopio usually includes Medic, a Finnish database of health sciences.

The reference management tools that are taught are RefWorks in Kuopio and EndNote in Trondheim, planning to teach also Zotero in the future.

Curruculum or not curriculum

In Brussels some lectures are included in the curriculum, depending on the faculty, the course and the professor who asked for it. In Kuopio all the courses for university students are integrated (and credit points given by the library) in the curricula, and there are also continuing education courses for the university hospital staff where information skills training is part of the course. There are also open training sessions that are not part of any course — often offered online (streaming) in Adobe Connect or Lync/Skype. In Trondheim some of the courses are integrated in the curricula of the medical faculty. Others are offered by the library to both students and staff from the university and the hospital.

Why is it important to teach information skills?

An interesting question, naturally, is also what are the aims of our training and teaching practices. More use of databases and journals? Information literate physicians and other health care professionals? Research with more impact and influence? More “student points” in order to get (more) funding? Better impact factors or other metrics that could make it possible for the university or hospital to get more funding? Better health care?

The most important point for us is information literacy that is the basis for all the aims mentioned above. We also would like to stress better intellectual autonomy of students with the abilities of critical thinking and source criticism. But how to measure that?