Initial efforts to improve medical student information-seeking behavior with embedded library instruction
Keywords:medical students, information literacy, searching behavior, information seeking, self-directed learning
Background: Medical students must develop self-directed information-seeking skills while they are learning vast amounts of foundational and clinical skills. Students will use different resources for different phases of their training. Information literacy training provided to students will be more impactful when it is embedded into courses or assignments that mimic real-world scenarios. The retention of these skills is also improved by early and frequent instruction sessions, paired with formative feedback from librarian-educators.
Case Presentation: Librarians received student responses to an information literacy question during two cycles of a Grand Rounds activity. Data were analyzed as follows: sources were grouped according to resource type and assessed for quality, and search terms were aggregated and analyzed to determine frequency of use. A librarian-educator presented the compiled data, making suggestions for improving searching and clarifying expectations for how to improve their resource choices for a second Grand Rounds session. Comparing the M2 Grand Rounds case to the M1 case of the same cohort, the frequency of evidence summary and diagnostic tool use increased and the frequency of search engine, textbook/lecture material, and journal article/database use decreased.
Discussion: In the real-world application of back-to-back Georgetown University’s Medical Center Grand Rounds exercises, librarian-led instruction on clinical-specific resources appears to be correlated with an improvement in medical students’ searching behavior. This trend supports the argument that introducing students early to librarian-led education on clinical-specific resources, and providing feedback on their searches, improves students’ information-seeking behavior.
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