Managing cognitive load in information literacy instruction

Abstract

This study examined how instructional librarians can incorporate principles from cognitive load theory to engage students in research and improve learning outcomes for a common library instructional delivery model. The study employed a between-subjects, quasi-experimental design to compare how instructional sessions would impact information literacy competency and response time, using a dual-task measurement of cognitive load. The results of this study indicated there are limited gains in competency following instruction via this delivery model and participants disengaged from the primary task, indicating a need for future research into motivational design when cognitive capacity is strained.

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Author information

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Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kirsten Hostetler.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest, both financial and non-financial.

Ethical approval

The authors received approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) where the study was conducted (IRB#: 00010217; Study ID: 162019).

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Appendices

Appendix A

Information literacy competency test

(Correct answers are indicated in italics).

  1. 1.

    When using the search bar on the Barber Library homepage, what types of sources will you find in your results?

  2. (a)

    Everything the library has access to.

  3. (b)

    Articles, images, books, and more from certain databases.

  4. (c)

    Articles from Academic Search Premier.

  1. 2.

    What options do you have to ask for help from a COCC librarian?

  1. (a)

    Text, call, and email.

  2. (b)

    Email and chat.

  3. (c)

    Call, email, and chat.

  1. 3.

    How many library accounts do you have?

  1. (a)

    One.

  2. (b)

    Two.

  3. (c)

    Three.

  1. 4.

    How do libraries separate search results?

  1. (a)

    By source types.

  2. (b)

    By date.

  3. (c)

    By author.

  1. 5.

    What filtering options are available in most library databases?

  1. (a)

    Date filters.

  2. (b)

    Relevance filters.

  3. (c)

    Spelling filters.

  1. 6.

    How does applying filters impact your search results?

  1. (a)

    More results are included to sort through and it is difficult to determine relevancy.

  2. (b)

    Fewer results are included and are more relevant to your needs.

  3. (c)

    You have the same number of search results but they are more relevant to your needs.

  1. 7.

    What filtering options are available in Google?

  1. (a)

    Date filters.

  2. (b)

    Image filters.

  3. (c)

    Author filters.

  1. 8.

    When is it a bad idea to use filter options?

  1. (a)

    When you are looking for search results in a specific date range.

  2. (b)

    When your search produces too many irrelevant results.

  3. (c)

    When your search produces a manageable number of relevant results.

  1. 9.

    What is the best way to start your research using library resources?

  1. (a)

    Go to the library homepage and locate the first search bar to start searching.

  2. (b)

    Consider the topic and identify an appropriate database for that topic based on the database description and resources needed.

  3. (c)

    Regardless of the topic, look for peer-reviewed articles in a database like Academic Search Premier.

  1. 10.

    When is it best to use a database like Academic Search Premier?

  1. (a)

    You want to start broadly searching to see what’s out there.

  2. (b)

    You have an obscure topic and want results that are specific to a particular topic.

  3. (c)

    You want to browse the library’s book collections.

  1. 11.

    Why is database selection an important part of the research process?

  1. (a)

    Selecting the right database helps you find the perfect source for any topic.

  2. (b)

    Selecting the right database helps you get more results than you could ever read so that you can sort through and find at least one source.

  3. (c)

    Selecting the right database helps you find resources related to the topic and narrows the results to appropriate source types.

  1. 12.

    How are database results different from Google search results?

  1. (a)

    Library results have sponsored content like advertisements and Google does not.

  2. (b)

    Google results will never ask you to pay to read the full text of certain sources while library resources are very expensive to access.

  3. (c)

    Google results combine different source types into one list while library databases can separate source types.

  1. 13.

    When is it best to use a database like Opposing Viewpoints in Context?

  1. (a)

    You have a topic that is specific to the topic of science and you need peer-reviewed sources.

  2. (b)

    You have a topic that has recently been in the news and is controversial.

  3. (c)

    You have a topic that is related to an historical event and need primary sources.

  1. 14.

    How can you ensure your keywords are appropriate to your topic when using library databases?

  1. (a)

    You can do a few practice searches (including in Google) and find words in the results that are relevant to your topic.

  2. (b)

    You can write a list of all the words you think of related to your topic so that you have the best words on your first search.

  3. (c)

    You can select a topic based on subjects you already know so you feel comfortable with the keywords prior to searching.

  1. 15.

    What is the purpose of an abstract in library databases?

  1. (a)

    Provides a summary of the article so you can quickly determine if you want to read the full text.

  2. (b)

    Provides a summary of the article so you can cite the article without having to read the full text.

  3. (c)

    Provides a summary of the article so you can evaluate the author’s credibility and credentials.

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Hostetler, K., Luo, T. Managing cognitive load in information literacy instruction. Education Tech Research Dev 69, 583–606 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-021-09962-x

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Keywords

  • Cognitive load
  • Dual-task approach
  • Information literacy