MLIS Students and Fieldwork Experiences

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					MLIS Students and Fieldwork Experiences
(**with thanks to the UWM Center for Instructional Professional Development for funding to support this research) Elizabeth Buchanan, Ph.D. Associate Professor Co-Director Center for Information Policy Research School of Information Studies University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee And Stephanie Reister, MLIS Reference Librarian Oconomowoc Public Library

Who Are You?
• MLIS Students? • Library Staff?
– Have advised fieldworks?

• Others? (Why are you here?)

Our Research
• Grew out of research on mentoring • MLIS students expressed need for peer and professional mentors, with less need for faculty mentors (Buchanan, Langston Hardon, and Meyers, 2005) • Second year research asked:

Research Questions
• • • How do graduate students in LIS perceive the fieldwork experience? Does the fieldwork experience serve as a mentoring experience? What conditions make for the most successful fieldwork experience to optimize learning?

• Online survey instrument administered to all MLIS students in Fall 2004 • Contained qualitative and quantitative questions • Sample questions:
– Since fieldwork is not required, what made you decide to participate? – What, if anything, would have made the fieldwork a more active learning experience? – What, if anything, did you find lacking in your fieldwork program? – Were you able to apply concepts you learned in class to your fieldwork position? – Did you consider anyone at your current place of employment as mentoring figure for you?

Responses/Data Analysis
• N= 27 (a small sample, no statistical significance; this can be considered a pilot study) • Sample group included students enrolled in Fieldwork 999 during the spring, summer and fall 2004 semesters (42 percent response rate) • Age of respondents
• • • • 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 7 (26 percent) 4 (15 percent) 9 (33 percent) 7 (26 percent)

Responses/Data Analysis
• Type of students
– Distance Ed 13 – On site 11 – Both 2 (1 n/r)

• Nearly all (85 percent) had previously worked or volunteered in a library • Only two male students replied • Ran data through SPSS

• Most respondents said that they would recommend fieldwork (89 percent). • However, many did not think it should be required (44 percent). • Reasons for participating in fieldwork:
– To gain practical experience – To decide if making the right career choice – To make professional contacts

• The respondents’ expectations of the employers and the fieldwork experience:
– – – – – – – – – Experiences in different facets of libraries Application of concepts learned Learn skills not discussed in class Guidance in determining or confirming a career path Networking Yes 18 (67 percent) No 1 (3 percent) Undecided 4 (15 percent) No Response 4 (15 percent)

• Satisfaction of expectations:

• Respondents found the following benefits from fieldwork:
– Knowledge gained outside of coursework – Confirmation of career path – Professional interaction and networking – Leads to employment – Credits toward degree

• The group was nearly even on whether they had found a mentor in the fieldwork experience.
– Yes 12 (44 percent) – No 11(41 percent) – No Response 4 (15 percent)

• More students in • the two older age brackets found a mentoring figure in their fieldwork.
6 5




Mentoring Figure

1 Yes 0 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 No


• More on-site students found a mentoring figure in their fieldwork.
7 6




Mentoring Figure
2 Missing


1 0 Missing On-site Student Distance Ed Student Take Courses Both On

Yes No

Type of Student

• Most respondents (63 percent) had good or excellent communication with their fieldwork supervisor. While 22 percent had fair or average communication. (15 percent did not respond)
– Half of those with good or excellent communication had a mentor. – Half of those with fair or average communication had a mentor. – Unknown if mentor was also supervisor.

• Forty-five percent of respondents had good or excellent communication with their faculty advisor. While 33 percent had poor, fair or average communication. (22 percent did not respond) • The majority of respondents (74 percent) said they applied concepts from their coursework to their fieldwork.

• Only 18 students (65 percent) responded to one or both of the questions on making fieldwork a more active experience and what was lacking in the fieldwork program. The answers overlapped.
– Nothing (satisfied with experience) - 6 – More feedback or direction from supervisor/advisor - 6 – Various answers made up other third

Further Research
• Who was the mentor and are they still in contact? (May not have been supervisor.) • What is the student’s perception/definition of a mentor? (May explain his/her response.) • How much was communication a direct factor in having a good fieldwork experience and finding a mentor? • Review guidelines for fieldwork program.

• How do you define a fieldwork position? • How do you define a mentor/mentoring? • Do you currently encourage fieldwork and/or mentoring at your facility? • What can be done to promote fieldwork and mentoring?
– Public Libraries – Academic Libraries – Special Libraries

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