Stretching PICO: implications for database searching and perceived searching confidence
information literacy, reference services, database searching, library technicians, library education
The purpose of this small, interdisciplinary, teaching and learning study is to examine database search strategy development in a class of first year undergraduate library technician students, comparing the effectiveness of structuring a search employing PICO, a clinical question formulation tool used in evidence based medicine, to using the generic keyword concept map commonly taught in information literacy contexts. This study also investigates these students’ preferences, and the impact on their perceived searching confidence when using the two approaches. Structured worksheets were used to guide students through the application of the two methods, and student results were captured via an online survey. Analysis revealed comparable recall scores for database search results between the methods, higher precision scores for PICO, and comparable self-rated searcher confidence.
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