Google grant assists in information-seeking research

Three Seton Hall University library staffers were recently awarded the Google research grant, totaling $15,000, to research and track undergraduate students’ information-seeking behaviors.

Librarians Marta Deyrup and Beth Bloom, along with Teaching, Learning and Technology Center (TLTC) Director Paul Fisher, were the recipients of the grant.

“Beth and I heard about the grant from Paul…and we all decided to give it a shot and apply together,” Deyrup said.

According to the Google Faculty Research Awards Program website, the program wishes to increase interaction between Google and academia, nurture relations between universities, and support academic research and improving information access.

Chrysanthy Grieco, dean of University libraries, said the grant required applicants to be “authenticated University researchers.”

“The grant recognizes the well-established information literacy program at Seton Hall and will help us develop it further by providing significant data about the on-line information seeking process of our undergraduate students,” Grieco said. “This prestigious research grant is a gratifying reward for the many years of work that our two librarians, Beth Bloom and Marta Deyrup, have put into this program. With the added assistance of Paul Fisher… we had what Google regarded as an exemplary plan.”

According to Bloom and Deyrup, the library conducted a pilot study last year to track students’ information-seeking behavior called Open Hallway, “a screen recording and voice capture tool.”

“The students who participated in this study used this tool to record their approach to doing a research assignment,” Bloom said. “As far as we could tell, the students enjoyed participating in the study.”

The pilot study, funded by TLTC, also gave participating students a stipend, according to Bloom.

According to Bloom and Deyrup, the research conducted last year showed students approach research in various ways. Some are unaware of what they are looking for until they find it in the available University sources; others may know what they are looking for but have difficulty specifying.

Bloom stressed the importance of the library’s research in order to best serve students, as it is part of their job as educators.

“As librarians, our job is to help guide people to the information appropriate for their projects or research,” Bloom said.

Grieco emphasized the significance of the grant being awarded to University librarians, especially in assisting students with research and information-seeking.

“Undergraduate education provides students with skills necessary for life-long learning,” Grieco said. “To find and assess the information is absolutely critical.”

Deyrup said future initiatives are planned to utilize the Google grant in the area of information literacy.

“Our study will begin in fall 2011 and we encourage students who are interested to participate in this project” Deyrup said. “We are hoping we get a sizeable amount of data that we can use to improve our information literacy instructional program.”

According to Fisher, the grant is “the perfect example” of how TLTC works with faculty.

“Helping the library faculty to inform their Information Literacy Program will benefit the library and the University, but most of all will help our students build their expertise in using information to accomplish their goals and objectives,” Fisher said.

Samantha Desmond can be reached at samantha.desmond@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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