With Thanksgiving Break making this a short week, there was only enough time for a shift at the Reference Desk. After we come back from this break, "Crunch Time" is just around the corner. For some universities, there is only a week-and-a-half of classes remaining before the study day and then finals. For others there are about three weeks of the semester remaining. This means later nights for some, final projects or papers for others, and of course the dreaded last tests called finals. Although I did not have a busy shift at the desk, I am wondering if that will pick up over the next week or two.
A research project completed by the Project Information Literacy group (PIL for short) focuses on how students use technology during "crunch time." This research report is entitled, "How College Students Manage Technology While in the Library During Crunch Time" and can be found at: http://projectinfolit.org/pdfs/PIL_Fall2011_TechStudy_FullReport1.1.pdf. I read this report which looked at how college students in a few community colleges, private universities, and public universities handled their use of technology while studying for finals or completing their remaining projects for the semester. The results were quite interesting.
Although some students make use of the library as a place to hang out or kill time while waiting for their next class or final, many come to the library to study, complete assignments, or use technological devices for communicating with teachers or classmates. The students in this report used various library resources such as computers or printers, library portals, databases, and even the snack shop. Some took the opportunity to receive fact-to-face time with librarians. In fact, many students combined their use of resources by using library computers to access library portals or databases.
In addition to taking advantage of library resources, students used their own personal resources such as cell/smart phones, laptops, or media/audio players. These items were applied to browse the internet, check email, type papers, listen to music, listen to sound files they had recorded for studying purposes, or even use "presentation software" (such as PowerPoint). Many students used websites such as Facebook, Google (email), Google.com, or YouTube to communicate with classmates about assignments, take a break from studying, search the web for information, or watch a video related to the subject matter they were studying.
The conclusion of this research report was favorable as it commended students for doing a good job of managing technology instead of using it haphazardly. During crunch time, at least according to this report, students are using technology to really help themselves study or to better prepare for finishing their semester well. Although the students in this report multitasked and used various technologies, none of them were considered to be "heavy technology users" by this research. Most students limited the number of technologies in use at one time and limited their application of social media for non-school related functions.
The final section of this study provided several recommendations. One of which is that students still seek libraries as a place of refuge even though students can use technology anywhere to accomplish their tasks. Libraries still have a vital place on campus, which includes providing a quiet place of refuge for students despite their technology uses and habits. As a future librarian, it is good to think about the content of such a study as the one mentioned above and how its results can be employed for the betterment of the library. With all that I am learning in my library classes and all that I have already learned, this report will bolster my work in serving students, especially in providing them a quiet and resourceful place to study.