Information literacy skills training should be utilised by libraries as a strategy for transforming non-library users into constant users by teaching them appropriate skills that can impact on their knowledge and attitudes towards the utilisation of library resources. Although libraries do provide training aimed at making students conscious of the range of library resources and services and how to use them in their studies and career development, it has regrettably been observed that the skills and services are not well utilised by many.
Students in many institutions still rely heavily on the librarian even after receiving training. This has also been observed at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) library. This study titled, An assessment of the attitudes of undergraduate students towards information literacy training: Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) Library as case study, therefore addressed the following research problem: To what extent does the information literacy skills training offered at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) Library affect students’ attitudes towards information literacy training and use of information retrieval systems?
The study was aimed at offering 2015 first year students at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University and the librarian responsible for information literacy skills training an opportunity to express their perceptions and feelings about the library’s information literacy skills training programme and the use of information retrieval systems. The study also aimed at determining barriers that students experience in independently and effectively utilising library services and systems and identifying possible gaps in the training. The study also looked at aspects of the training that influenced students positively.
A case study of first year students from the Schools of Medicine, Pathology and Pre-Clinical Sciences, Oral Health Sciences and Health Care Sciences at SMU was conducted using a mixed methods approach, collecting and analysing quantitative and qualitative data. It employed questionnaires (for quantitative data), focus group interviews (for qualitative data) and an interview with the librarian responsible for information literacy training (qualitative data). Data were collected from the 14th October to the 06th November 2015. A total of 394 questionnaires were distributed, 225 questionnaires were returned and 219 were sufficiently completed to be useful. Four focus group interviews were held with 18 first year students; all schools were represented.
Students contributed ideas and voiced their opinions about the value of information literacy skills training for their studies, future career and their everyday life. They shared perceptions on their satisfaction with the skills learned and had the opportunity to rank the skills they have improved as a result of the training. Students confirmed that the training programme was indeed valuable and required for various aspects of their life, studies and career. They learned the skills needed when searching for information. Their effort and time for searching, locating, finding, accessing, evaluating and using information from the shelves, catalogue, internet and databases had also been decreased.
Some of the gaps identified by students were that they struggled with acquiring new skills as they had no prior exposure to libraries and computers, the classes were overcrowded and uncontrollable, the scope covered was too wide for one session, the training was overwhelming and the timing of the year wrong. Students also made suggestions and recommendations, for example continuous or monthly training, online training sessions, small group sessions, facilitation training for the trainers and including basic computer training.
The practical recommendations from the study, which include the student recommendations, can be utilised to improve information literacy skills training at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University Library, and also hold value for other academic contexts. From a theoretical viewpoint, theories of self-efficacy and affordance theory can be explored in further work.
Mini Dissertation (MIT)--University of Pretoria, 2016.