Impact of librarians in first-year medical and dental student problem-based learning (PBL) groups: a controlled study.Health Info Libr J. 2005 Sep; 22(3):189-95.HI
Librarians at the University of Alberta have been involved with teaching undergraduate medical and dental education for several years. After 1 year of increased librarian involvement at the problem-based learning (PBL), small-group level, informal feedback from faculty and students suggested that librarians' participation in PBL groups was beneficial. There was, however, no real evidence to support this claim or justify the high demand on librarians' time.
The study aimed to determine whether having a librarian present in the small-group, problem-based learning modules for first-year medical and dental students results in an improved understanding of evidence-based medicine concepts, the nature of medical literature, and information access skills.
One hundred and sixty-four first-year medical and dental students participated in the study. There were a total of 18 PBL groups, each with approximately nine students and one faculty tutor. Six librarians participated and were assigned randomly to the six intervention groups. Students were given pre- and post-tests at the outset and upon completion of the 6-week course.
Post-test scores showed that there was a small positive librarian impact, but final exam scores showed no impact. There was also no difference in attitudes or comfort levels between students who had a librarian in their group and those who did not.
Impact was not sufficient to warrant continued participation of librarians in PBL. In future instruction, librarians at the John W. Scott Health Sciences Library will continue to teach at the larger group level.