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Impact of Library Instruction: Correlations to Course Grades Across the Curriculum

Course Grades and Library Instruction


Our research explores the relationship between course grades and a sequence of library instruction interventions throughout a student’s curriculum, which includes psychology majors’ experiences with four courses, including sections that did and did not participate in library instruction in the following four courses:  ENGL 1010, ENGL 2010, PSY 2010, PSY 3500.  It also looks specifically at other factors, including gender, degree intent, age, and FTE status. This project builds upon our previous rubric assessment of student work across the curriculum, which included analyzing student papers from three of the four courses used in our study (


Our research originally relied solely on quantitative methods, which included transcript analysis exploring correlations between grades and the presence of library instruction.  However, as we studied the data and new questions emerged, we felt certain voices were missing.  In response, we added a qualitative portion which consisted of student surveys and faculty focus groups.  These combined methods provided a broad view of overall impact and ideas for changing our practice in the classroom.

Major Findings:

  • Students who received library instruction in ENGL1010 achieved higher grades (A's) overall.
  • Students who received library instruction in ENGL2010 performed slightly better overall (A's or B's).
  • Students who received library instruction in PSY2010 performed neutrally.
  • Students who received library instruction in PSY3500 performed slightly better overall.
  • The impact of library instruction on students increases when courses are sequenced.
  • Students in PSY3500 provided interesting responses that indicated they confuse summarizing with synthesizing.
  • Instructors for PSY2010 and PSY3500 expressed concern that students suffer from information overload and struggle to locate relevant sources.
  • Instructors for PSY2010 and PSY3500 expressed a desire for students to become "good consumers of information."

These results were published in College & Research Libraries, titled "Making Strategic Decisions: Conducting and Using Research on the Impact of Sequenced Library Instruction."