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Research Proposal--LSC 557
Transcript of Research Proposal--LSC 557
LSC 557, Summer 2013
Research and Evaluation in Library and Information Services
Dr. Lauren Mandel
July 23, 2013
Statement of Need
The purpose of this research is to investigate whether the curriculum in master’s programs in Library and Information Science (LIS) adequately prepares students with the technological competences required for professional library positions.
A content analysis of technology course offerings in ALA-accredited MLIS programs.
This study will include:
A content analysis of technology skills listed in current job postings for positions requiring an MLIS degree.
A survey of current MLIS students and recent graduates about technology experience in the MLIS program.
The field of librarianship is rapidly evolving and librarians are required to possess many computer skills, but it is unclear whether current MLIS programs provide the necessary coursework to prepare students to use the technologies that professional librarian positions require.
“The profession is more and more reliant on computer technology, so clearly this is an area that should be considered increasingly critical to librarianship” (Hall, 2009, p. 65).
“The need for change is a common factor in LIS programs, which leads to a number of issues focused on departmental reorganization, integration, and alignment” (Chow, Shaw, Glynn, Martensen, & Howard, 2011, p. 2).
Library practitioners criticize “the quality of education by claiming that library schools were not keeping pace with the technological and environmental developments in libraries” (Mahmood & Shafique, 2012, p. 52).
The field will not evolve without librarians who are properly trained to implement, use, and adapt to the ever-changing information technologies.
Interviews with hiring librarians show that they do not think MLIS programs are producing graduates with the skills necessary for professional positions (Mahmood & Shafique, 2012).
Interviews with students and recent graduates find that they do not feel adequately prepared in the use of some technologies (Carter, 2011).
The study will provide a general overview of MLIS programs, but the content analysis tool can be used by individual MLIS programs to evaluate their own curriculum.
A study that samples ALA-accredited programs in the United States and surveys students will provide a more comprehensive outlook on the correlation of technology skills taught in MLIS programs and those that are needed to fulfill professional librarian positions.
The professional skills analysis can be replicated if programs want the most updated or geographically relevant information.
The results can guide programs as they consider the addition of new courses or the incorporation of new technologies into existing courses.
Technology course offerings draw potential students and boost the value of programs during the ALA-accreditation process.
Some hold that technology should not be the focus of LIS programs, so instead of adding technology courses, the skills are added to the learning objectives of the more traditional library core (Markey, 2004).
The American Library Association has published a list of eight core competences, one of which is "Technological Knowledge and Skills," (2009, p.1).
There is really no consensus on what the “core” of LIS studies is or should be (Mulvaney & O'Connor, 2006; Hall, 2009; Riley-Huff & Rholes, 2011).
4A. Information, communication, assistive, and related technologies as they affect the resources, service delivery, and uses of libraries and other information agencies.
4B. The application of information, communication, assistive, and related technology and tools consistent with professional ethics and prevailing service norms and applications.
4C. The methods of assessing and evaluating the specifications, efficacy, and cost efficiency of technology-based products and services.
4D. The principles and techniques necessary to identify and analyze emerging technologies and innovations in order to recognize and implement relevant technological improvements. (ALA, 2009, p. 3)
RQ1: What technology skills are essential for new librarians?
RQ2: Which technology classes are offered in the MLIS program?
RQ3: Are the technology classes offered required or elective?
RQ4: Is the teaching of technology skills incorporated into other core classes?
RQ5: Do MLIS students in the program want more (additional or alternative) technology classes?
1) curriculum: The courses, both required and elective, offered by the MLIS program. These courses must be offered regularly (at least once every two years), not merely listed in a course catalog or on a department website.
Assignments that require the use of technology are completed as instructed and a passing grade is earned on the assignment.
Concepts and Operational Definitions
2) MLIS students: Full-time or part-time students currently enrolled in a program in library and information science who will earn a master’s degree within the next three years and people who have graduated from the master’s program in library and information science within the past two years.
3) technology competences: The knowledge and experience using computer software, hardware, and social media “as they affect the resources, service delivery, and uses of libraries and other information agencies,” (ALA, 2009, p. 3).
4) adequately prepares: Technology skills (competences) are taught in the program’s courses and use of the skills are required in assignments.
5) professional library positions: Jobs that require the MLIS degree.
Using the list of ALA-accredited MLIS programs in the United States with published rankings, the 43 schools will be divided into three groups representing the top third, middle third, and bottom third of the ranked programs. Programs will be randomly picked from each group until 10 programs are chosen. Specific programs chosen will not be identified, but the stratified sample will include a broader range of quality of programs than would be chosen from random sampling of the programs.
1) Technology skills in MLIS curriculum: This concept will be operationalized by consulting the current course catalogs and syllabi of courses of MLIS programs and calculating the top ten most frequently listed technology skills.
2) technology skills in job postings: This concept will be operationalized by consulting job postings within the past two years for jobs that require an MLIS degree and calculating the top ten most frequently listed skills.
adequately prepares: This concept will be operationalized by comparing the top ten results from the curriculum analysis and the technology skills analysis to determine whether the technology skills taught in MLIS programs correspond to the technology skills listed as required or preferred in professional library job descriptions.
This concept will further be measured by creating a survey for students and recent graduates of MLIS programs asking questions to determine which of the top technology skills they learned and used in their program and how prepared they feel to use these technologies in a professional position.
Data Collection Activities
Data collection for research questions 2-4 will be completed through content analysis of the course catalogs, course descriptions, and syllabi of courses offered over the past 4 years at each program.
Data for research question 1 will also be collected through content analysis. Current job postings from ALA JobLIST will be analyzed. Jobs that require an MLIS degree will be chosen and a list will be generated of technology skills listed as required and those that are listed as preferred.
Data for research question 5 will be collected by surveying students and recent graduates from the chosen schools about which technology skills they have learned in their MLIS classes
Data Collection Instruments
Job Postings Coding Tool
Jobs that require an MLIS degree will be chosen and a list will be generated of technology skills listed as required and those that are listed as preferred. This table will be similar to Table 1, but with the following categories: Required, Preferred, Less than 3 years, 3+ years. The years refer to how many years of professional library experience are required for the position.
MLIS Curriculum Coding Tool
MLIS Student & Recent Graduate Survey
Survey will ask questions about technology skills learned in MLIS classes and students' perceptions on whether the technology skills taught in the MLIS program were adequate. Specific technologies will be listed and the respondents will be asked to rank their experience with each. Link to survey is below:
Personnel, Time, and Budget
Principal Researcher (faculty member) -- 0.33 FTE calendar year
Research Associate (faculty member) -- 0.25 FTE calendar year
Graduate Research Assistant -- 20 hours/week academic year
Research Consultants (2) -- 50 hours/each
One calendar year, beginning July through following June
Total budget: $94,408
Time and Budget Details
July: begin sampling process
August: design coding tool
September: graduate assistant begins collecting materials from sampled programs
October: research team meets with consultants for evaluation of coding process and survey review
November: first round of surveys sent out
December: data evaluation of survey responses begins
January: begin coding job postings
February: research team meets with consultants
April: second round of surveys sent out
May: data collection analysis completed and results compiled
June: write research report and submit it for publication and presentation
At the conclusion of the data collection and analysis phase of the study:
a report will be created to share results with participating MLIS programs and all other ALA-accredited programs.
The report will be submitted for publication to library and information science scholarly journals, such as Information Technology and Libraries, and Library Student Journal.
The results will also be shared through presentations at annual conferences of relevant professional organizations such as ALA, ACRL, and Student ALA chapter conferences, on the institution’s open access digital repository, and through ALA listservs.
The researchers will also take advantage of the publicity opportunities offered through the IMLS, such as contributing to the blog, UpNext (IMLS, n.d.).
The research project will be shared and publicized on the institution and department websites.
American Library Association (2009). ALA’s core competences of librarianship. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/educationcareers/sites/ala.org.educationcareers/files/content/careers/corecomp/corecompetences/finalcorecompstat09.pdf
Chow, A. S., Shaw, T. L., Gwynn, D., Martensen, D., & Howard, M. (2011). Changing times and requirements: Implications for LIS education. LIBRES: Library & Information Science Research Electronic Journal, 21(1), 1-20.
Hall, R. A. (2009). Exploring the core: An examination of required courses in ALA-accredited. Education for Information, 27(1), 57-67.
Carter, C. E. (2011). Master's students in an information studies program enter the program with excitement and leave with concerns about professional preparation for their chosen fields. Evidence Based Library & Information Practice, 6(4), 140-142.
Institute of Museum and Library Services. (n.d.) Grantee communications kit. Retrieved from http://www.imls.gov/assets/1/AssetManager/GCK.pdf
Mahmood, K., & Shafique, F. (2012). Alumni participation in LIS program review: The case of MLIS at University of the Punjab. Library Philosophy & Practice, 14(1), 51-60.
Markey, K. (2004). Current educational trends in the information and library science curriculum. Journal of Education for Library & Information Science, 45(4), 317-339.
Mulvaney, J., & O'Connor, D. (2006).The crux of our crisis. American Libraries, 37(6), 38-40.
Riley-Huff, D. A., & Rholes, J. M. (2011). Librarians and technology skill acquisition: Issues and perspectives. Information Technology & Libraries, 30(3), 129-140.