Thursday, September 10, 2009

Save Time

Search techniques save time.

Hundreds of students discovered this for themselves this summer. The students were middle school and high school students enrolled in Investigative Searching 20/10, our newest online course. At the beginning of the course, students who completed the pretest in under 30 minutes committed a significantly large number of mistakes, compared to those who took more time.

Here are their average pretest scores on a scale of 0 to 100:
  • Under 20 minutes: 33
  • 20 to 30 minutes: 46
  • Over 30 minutes: 53

After completing self-paced tutorials, where they practiced techniques for finding and evaluating information related to authorship, publication dates, accuracy of content, etc., students achieved higher scores in significantly less time.

Here are their average posttest scores on a scale of 0 to 100:
  • Under 10 minutes: 25
  • 10 to 30 minutes: 58
  • Over 30 minutes: 61
The biggest difference was the number of students whose scores improved while going at a fast pace. There are 10 items on both the pre- and posttest, so that works out to less than 2 minutes per item with a fairly high success rate. I'm sure the students would have preferred even higher scores, after all, 60 out of 100 is failing on most grading scales. Searching and evaluation works on a different scale where 40 is average for today's middle school students (and 50 is average for high school). Add 20 points to both and that's the effect of training. Librarians tend to average around 80 points on this scale.

If you haven't taken the Investigative Searching 20/10 challenge, and want to find out where you stand, sign up for the course this fall. You can preview the course here (sign on as guest). For an introduction intended for students, visit this link. We are also offering this course directly to students at steeply discounted group rates. If you would like to find out more about using this with students, drop us a line!

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