Faculty Motivations: An Exploratory Study of Motivational Factors of Faculty to Assist with Students' Research Skills Development

Article excerpt


This article reports the findings of a qualitative study which sought to uncover the motivational factors of faculty to address the library research skills of students. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted in the fall semester of 2004 with teaching faculty, users and non-users of library instruction, at the University of Guelph. Participants were asked to discuss their use of course-integrated library/research instruction. In its absence, faculty were asked how (if at all) did they assist students to learn to do research. Transcripts were analyzed using grounded theory methodology. Findings may be useful to instructional librarians seeking to enhance collaboration with faculty. One finding is a suggestion that faculty are motivated by their desire to produce independent learners with transferable skills. Scholars look to potential students for the next generation of scholars - graduate students. They see a link between the development of research skills and readers - scholarly community, an audience for their work. Some participants who had not previously collaborated with a librarian described their own methods of integrating research skills development into the curriculum.

Keywords: Faculty/Librarian collaboration, information literacy, research skills


Fifty years ago Patricia Knapp asserted the importance of librarian-faculty collaboration: "If we wish the library to function more effectively in the college?we must direct our efforts toward the curriculum, working through the faculty" (831). Since then, a prevalent perspective of information literacy (IL) has emerged which situates library instruction at the crossroads between the classroom and the library, "where the library research methods and materials are developed in response to particular disciplinary needs"(Hutchins, Fister and MacPherson 4). Research has continued to show that, to be successful and effective, an information literacy program should be:

1. integrated with the curriculum;

2. provided at point-of-need;

3. supported by faculty (Leckie & Fullerton 1-2 ).

Access to students by librarians during class time is mediated by faculty. LIS Library and Information Science (LIS) scholarship has explored factors which influence the faculty-librarian relationship and faculty adoption of course-integrated information literacy instruction. These include:

* faculty attitudes toward library research instruction;1

* the nature of faculty as a distinct culture (Hardesty 1995);

* faculty attitudes towards, and perceptions of librarians.2

Knowledge of these factors has better equipped librarians to educate faculty on the importance of information literacy. However, there is little research into what benefits, rewards or incentives may exist to motivate faculty to assist with the development of their students' research skills.

This paper reports on exploratory research which investigates possible factors that may motivate faculty to address their students' research skills. The study is concerned with the motivating factors of faculty regardless of previous use of librarian-led instruction. The intention is to provide a more detailed and elaborate appreciation of the thoughts and reasoning which faculty bring to their decision regarding their use or non-use of information literacy instruction.

Literature Review

LIS literature, focusing on the intersection between faculty and library/librarians, has uncovered many areas of relevant interest. Much attention has been given to the nature of the relationship between faculty and librarians. Hardesty's seminal work on faculty culture explains that librarians value the research process itself in contrast with faculty where the emphasis is on the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge (348). The approach taken by librarians to engage with faculty must reflect the faculty member's values and motives and not those of the librarian. …


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