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Watch it or Read it: Understanding Undergraduate Engineering Students' Learning Effectiveness and Preference for Video Tutorials Versus Guide-on-the-Side Tutorials

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Technical Session 2: Improving Information Literacy Programs

Tagged Division

Engineering Libraries

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Paper Authors


Qianjin Zhang University of Iowa Orcid 16x16

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Qianjin (Marina) Zhang is Engineering & Informatics Librarian at the Lichtenberger Engineering Library, The University of Iowa. Her work focuses on providing data management support and developing library research data services. As a subject librarian, she also provides instruction, reference and consultation services for the engineering faculty and students. Marina holds a MA in Information Resources & Library Science from The University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), and a BS in Biotechnology from Jiangsu University of Science and Technology (Zhenjiang, China).

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Kari A. Kozak University of Iowa Orcid 16x16

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Kari Kozak is the Head of the Lichtenberger Engineering Library at The University of Iowa. She provides instruction, reference, and consultation services to student, faculty, and staff within the departments and research centers in the College of Engineering. Kari holds bachelor’s degrees in Meteorology and Environmental Studies from Iowa State and a master’s degree in Library Science from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Before coming to the University of Iowa in November of 2008, she worked at Texas A & M University as a Science & Engineering Librarian.

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Video tutorials and text-and-image tutorials are widely used for teaching database searching skills in many academic libraries. The purpose for this study is to discover undergraduate engineering students’ performance and preference for video tutorials versus text-and-image tutorials (called Guide-on-the-Side) for Compendex database instruction. We designed three tasks: emailing citations, finding a controlled term and performing a search using wildcards/stemming, and both a video tutorial and a Guide-on-the-Side tutorial with the same information to help solve each task. We counterbalanced each combination of tutorial format and task so that each combination was presented to the participant pool with an equal chance.

Students’ performance was measured by time spent on each task and correctness. Both video tutorials and Guide-on-the-Side tutorials were assessed by ease of understanding concepts presented in different formats, overall satisfaction with tutorials, ease of completing tasks and preference for which tutorial format.

Results from this study suggested that both video tutorials and Guide-on-the-Side tutorials effectively helped the undergraduate students learn database searching. There was no strong evidence to show any differences between the two tutorial formats in terms of the ease of understanding concepts, the length and overall satisfaction. Participants preferred Guide-on-the-Side tutorials (58%) over video tutorials (32%).

Zhang, Q., & Kozak, K. A. (2017, June), Watch it or Read it: Understanding Undergraduate Engineering Students' Learning Effectiveness and Preference for Video Tutorials Versus Guide-on-the-Side Tutorials Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--29111

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