A Map to Helping Business Students Conduct Research

Unlike a business or organization that retains most of its workers from year to year, a college or university turns over roughly a quarter or more of its students every 12 months. For academic librarians, that can translate into thousands of new “customers” each year who need to learn how to find and access information.

IO-bannerAt the Roland G. Parrish Library of Management & Economics at Purdue University, the library staff addressed this issue by developing guides and pages to help students select the appropriate databases for their research. But anecdotal evidence showed that these resources were of limited effectiveness, with many students turning to Google or using databases with which they are already familiar.

Hal Kirkwood, an associate professor of library science at the Parrish Library, decided to try a different approach to the problem: creating concept maps.

“The crucial aspect was to design the maps so they would provide students with appropriate choices for their anticipated information needs.” he writes in the September-October issue of Information Outlook. “Thus, throughout the process of designing each map, I kep asking, ‘What will the student be looking for?’ and tried to describe the selections in language the students would likely use.”

Hal translated his experience with creating concept maps into a poster that he presented at the SLA 2016 Annual Conference in Philadelphia. The poster touches on the challenges of developing the maps (time and effort), the software used to create them (SpicyNodes), and an unexpected advantage that has accrued from them.

“An unanticipated benefit of the maps is that they have proven to be very effective in training the student assistants who staff our information/reference desk,” he writes. “The students are assigned to explore and use the maps as part of their training so they become more familiar with our resources and better understand what students are likely to be seeking when they come to us for assistance.”

To learn more about creating concept maps to help students find library resources, read the article.

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