Focus Group Study to Determine Information Seeking Habits of Doctor of Physical Therapy Students

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Conference Title/Conference Publication

Medical Library Association Annual Meeting


Chicago, IL

Conference Dates

May 16-21, 2014

Date of Presentation



Objectives: This focus group study was undertaken to determine the information seeking habits of second-year doctor of physical therapy (DPT) students. The information collected will be used to determine steps required to enhance information literacy in the DPT curriculum. Additionally, the results will help develop a hypothesis-driven research study regarding the effectiveness of the process to enhance information literacy in the DPT curriculum.

Hypotheses: Students with prior instruction from a librarian will have better information-seeking habits.

Methods: Setting: Health sciences library serving graduate allied health programs. Population: Thirty-four DPT students from graduating class. Process: Answers to specific questions related to information seeking, gathering, and assessing habits were collected via a questionnaire. The questionnaire for this study was developed in-house and used Likert-type scale response anchors to assess students' knowledge of information literacy and utilization of that knowledge. Content validity of the questionnaire was tested by the authors and a senior librarian mentor not connected with the university. Questionnaires were completed anonymously. Answers to the questionnaire had no bearing on course performance and course grade. Analysis is planned to determine specific themes from the data. Additionally, the model of collaborative efforts to incorporate information literacy in the curriculum, based on the themes determined from this focus group study will be determined.

Results: One hundred percent return rate of questionnaire, 93% of returned questionnaires had valid answers. Considering the entire sample, students used virtual library resources more than physical resources. Students used both free web-based resources and university library-provided resources but tended to use free resources more often. Students put moderate value on citing information and were neutral toward evaluating information. When the sample was separated based on prior librarian led instruction, the group with prior instruction used the library resources, both virtual and physical, more frequently.

Conclusions: Second-year DTP students tended to use free web-based resources more and students with prior instruction from a librarian tended to use library resources more. Students with prior instruction were also more likely to consult a librarian when beginning their research than students without prior librarian-led instruction. We believe that formal libraria- led instruction should be incorporated in the DPT classes in order to improve information literacy. Additional research into ways to improve DPT student information literacy habits is required.

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