CEC Theses and Dissertations

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Online Learning Communities: Enhancing the Acquisition of Information Skills by Undergraduate Students of the University of Puerto Rico at Carolina

Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Science (DISC)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Ling Wang

Committee Member

Maxine S Cohen

Committee Member

José Sánchez-Lugo


Despite the efforts that have been made to develop the information skills of undergraduate students, there are still limitations that one shot sessions of face-to-face library instruction or online tutorials present when they are the only options used to develop specific information skills in students. The purpose of this study was to investigate if the design and implementation of online learning communities are effective in supporting students while they are developing specific information skills. To prove this effectiveness, the use of online learning communities was compared to two other options of delivering instruction: online tutorials and one shot sessions of face-to-face instruction.

Participants in this study were undergraduate students registered in four sections of an English course. The first group was the control group; they received one session of library face-to-face instruction. The second group participated through the online learning community. The third group completed four online tutorials, and the fourth group completed four online tutorials and participated through the online learning community.

Data was gathered through two sources: (1) a pre-test and a post-test administered to all four groups, and (2) focus groups performed on all groups except the control group. After running ANOVA on the pre-test scores and not finding significant differences, ANOVA was run again on the post-test scores. The results from the post-test revealed that there was significant statistical difference among the four groups. The follow-up Tukey test revealed that the scores from the online learning community group significantly differed from the other groups, proving it to be the most effective treatment. On the other hand, the online tutorial group did not perform in a better way than the other groups, but when the online tutorial was combined with the online learning community treatment, the group performed significantly better than when the online tutorial was the treatment alone. When analyzing the results from the focus groups, the results indicated that the students that participated through the online learning community were more satisfied with the experience, than the participants in the other two groups. Lastly, the researcher made recommendations to enhance the development of specific information skills.

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