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A Mixed-Methods Investigation of

the Relationship between Critical
Thinking and Library Anxiety among
Undergraduate Students in their
Information Search Process
Nahyun Kwon

This study investigated the nature of associations between critical thinking
dispositions and library anxiety among 137 undergraduate students. The
study was conducted by administering standardized survey instruments
and by analyzing the contents of student essays on critical incidents
of their library use experience. The results of these quantitative and
qualitative investigations consolidated each other by revealing negative
associations between the two variables. An interactive model of critical
thinking and library anxiety emerged from the investigation, showing
how they interact with each other during the library use process. Both
theoretical and practical implications of the findings were discussed
within the frameworks of affective information behavior and information
literacy, respectively.

nabling students to think criti- assisting students to locate and evaluate
cally is one of the major goals information critically by teaching infor-
of higher education.1 Critical mation literacy.
use of information resources Indeed, the search for information
is fundamental to higher education; there- involves critical thinking.4 Due to the
fore, tertiary institutions stress students' importance of analytical and systematic
abilities to use libraries and information thinking skills in using libraries, critical
resources critically.2 With the new genera- thinking has been of interest to both in-
tion of computer-literate students and the formation literacy instructors and library
vast amount of information available in and information science (LIS) research-
both print and electronic formats,3 the ers. For example, Sonia Bodi maintained
necessity to develop the ability to use that teaching critical thinking skills is an
information resources in the library is important component of bibliographic
paramount. Consequently, academic instruction.' Ethelene Whitmire reported
libraries now assume a far greater role in that library use is an environmental fac-

Nahyun Kwon is Assistant Professorin the School of Library and Information Science, College of Arts &
Sciences at University of South Florida;e-mail: nkwon@cas.usf.edu. The author would like to thank Ms.
Sonia Wohlmuth and Ms. Kiersty Coxfor their generous supports in recruitingstudentsfor this study.

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Therefore. and Linda While critical thinking is typically Alexander revealed a negative associa- associated with cognitive abilities and tion between library anxiety and critical skills. ideas. the motivation to use critical thinking skills to present study was designed to investi- decide what to believe and what to do" gate the underlying mechanism that can when one approaches problems. Only recently.9 This observation suggests Participants were undergraduate students that students equipped with more positive enrolled in one of six sections of Library dispositions tend to demonstrate better and Internet Research Skills at a state critical thinking skills. cognitive processes during information These studies examined critical thinking searches. and other in- Unfortunately. investigated for undergraduate students fective dispositions. and evaluate appropriate print and Inter- sources is important for college students net-based documents and databases to to achieve high academic performance. Ages of the participants ranged from 18 While both library anxiety and criti. A total of 180 students enrolled 1 college students. qualitative approaches. select. and 137 debilitates effective use of libraries and students participated in the study during information resources. whereas students university in southeastern United States.' 3 However. The association has yet to be not only to cognitive abilities but also to af. critical thinking Method skills and dispositions are considered to be Participants highly related. and inadequacy in performing academic activities."Accordingly. Conversely. The findings will ward their own critical thinking abilities be able to explain how critical thinking and are open to unfamiliar situations and library anxiety interact with each or ideas.9. explain the association between library decisions. in fact.118 College & Research Libraries March 2008 6 tor that enhances critical thinking skills. Anthony Onwuegbuzie. the primary target popu- colleagues defined the disposition toward lation of the academic library's informa- critical thinking as "the consistent internal tion literacy programs. among formation. Nahyun outcome of library use. little is known about the nature either as an important component of of their association during the library information literacy education or as an research process. has investigated the nature of their This indicates that critical thinking relates association. Peter Facione and his who are. date. SD = 6. students' negative other and.10 answer education. LIS literature reports the formation needs. Kwon. students anxiety and critical thinking disposition with strong critical thinking dispositions by undertaking both quantitative and tend to have more positive attitudes to. either as a required or an elective course onstrated empirically that library anxiety during the spring 2006 semester. research skills needed to identify. or issues. to in general or a specific problem at hand. known as library anxiety. to 60 years (Mean = 22. The critical use of academic library re. The cal thinking dispositions seem to affect majority of the participants were White . This course emphasizes prevalence of illogical or inadequate feel. 68.' 2 This suggests the first two weeks of the semester on a that library anxiety may impede cognitive voluntary basis. More important. process in the library. the ideal critical thinker is also thinking dispositions among graduate characterized by how s/he approaches life 7 students. the development of critical thinking skills ings or attitudes toward the use of the in relation to the use and application of in- library. Approximately.9 per- processes during the information search cent of the 137 participants were female. with negative dispositions tend to exhibit It is a three-credit course that teaches the poorer critical thinking skills. assist with devel- attitudes and mistrust about their own oping useful directions for information thinking abilities could cause illogical fear literacy programs. Researchers have dem. research. no research. ultimately.9).

(b) open-mind. library tasks. . refer to students' negative perceptions edness.0%). safe. barriers.78 for truth-seeking. including computers. Finally.4%). Class rankings were A higher score on this scale represents freshmen (6. welcoming. logical. First."7 organized. Critical thinkingself-confidence re. Knowledge of the library per- lematic situations. and valuing feel with the library. levels of library anxiety experienced by fers to the level of self-assurance one has students on a 5-point Likert-type scale. tions. (b) disposition to use critical thinking.71 for analyticity. more positive critical thinking disposi- junior (41.69 for maturity. (c) analyticity. and attentive The LAS consists of 43 items that assess inquiry. cessible when the students are in need seeking represents the disposition of being of personal assistance from the librar- keen to seek the truth. A regarding one's own reasoning processes. high score on any dimension represents Inquisitiveness relates to one's intellectual high levels of anxiety in that area.14 This affective barriers.3%).91 problem situations. (d) knowledge of the library. audacious about ians. .65 for The present study employed both quan. and machines. the di- mensions generated scores for the sample Data Collection Techniques for Quantita. tolerant of divergent opinions and being Comfort with the library represents how sensitive to the possibility of one's own comfortable.84 for critical thinking methods as described below. mechanical the application of reason and the use of barriers denotes uncomfortable feelings evidence even if the underlying problem that stem from using library equipment emerges as being difficult or challenging. Hispanic (4. followed by African American type scale anchored with 1 being "agree (13. quantitative investigations. and dimensions of critical thinking disposi. (f) frightening. and honest and objec. unapproachable. Open-mind. participants and . . and photocopy machines. secure.6%). Asian/Pacific strongly" and 6 being "disagree strongly. . open-mindedness. For the current investigation. (d) systematicity. were administered the California Critical Library anxiety was measured by Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI) administering the Library Anxiety Scale16 and Library Anxiety Scale (LAS).0%). library to be.15 The CCTDI contains for barriers with staff. anticipating possible tains to the degree of familiarity students findings or consequences. The (LAS) developed by Sharon Bostick. the dimensions generated disposed a person is to make reflective scores for the sample that had a classical decisions when facing ill-structured theory alpha reliability coefficient of . (e) mechanical barriers. and beliefs that librarians are threatening. and senior (21. Finally.75 for comfort with the library. Critical Thinking and Library Anxiety among Undergraduate Students 119 (77. Affective barrierspertain to students' asking questions. .6%). sumption that their fellow students are edness refers to the disposition of being more capable library users than they are. and (g) maturity. These feelings of ineptness ings do not support one's preference or are aggravated by the ungrounded as- one's preconceived opinions. .86 for affective 75 items measured on a six-point Likert. For the curiosity.8%). sophomore (27. (c) comfort with the instrument measures the following seven library. and inac- inquisitiveness.8%). com- Systematicity is the disposition toward puter printers." Islanders (3. Truth.62 titative and qualitative data collection for systematicity. feelings of inadequacy while completing tive about seeking inquiry even if the find. . maturity denotes how present study. CCTDI was developed by Peter Facione This scale contains the following five and Noreen Facione to measure a person's dimensions: (a) barriers with staff. focused. that had a classical theory alpha reliability tive and QualitativeInvestigations coefficient of . . (e) critical thinking self-confidence. Barrierswith staff tions: (a) truth-seeking. Analyticity represents the disposition and nonthreatening students perceive the of being cognizant of potentially prob. bias. for self-confidence.81 for inquisitiveness.

process of thesis writing or among students * feel greater apprehension about in non-English-speaking countries. compared to students with strong Van Kampen's Multidimensional Library critical thinking disposition. qualitative techniques. Second.120 College & Research Libraries March 2008 . sample. than students with strong critical thinking do not adequately measure the current dispositions. Specifically.20 These scales. a series of t-tests were conducted using SPSS+ version 13. and mechanical barriers. What tion between critical thinking dispositions were you thinking and how did you and library anxiety. scores than their counterparts with higher say in 500-1. it was decided to use the LAS between critical thinking disposition and for the present study.60 for knowledge of the library. limited purposes. the sitions would have greater library anxiety fifth dimension of the scale. library anxiety by analyzing student es- The dimensions of both CCTDI and says. There hypotheses were established. for qualitative approach of DataAnalysis the inquiry. using the library (Hypothesis 5). measuring library 9 have lower levels of comfort with anxiety among graduate students in the the library (Hypothesis 3). content analysis was conducted to worked from the beginning of the obtain insight on the nature of the associa- assignment to its conclusion. validated scale that can measure library The second objective of this research anxiety of the undergraduate students in was to further explore the underlying the United States. in particular. were designed with somewhat using the library (Hypothesis 2). its resources to find information for It should be noted that the use of the research paper? the LAS has been questioned in the literature because of the limitation of Research Objectives and Hypotheses its use in the current digital library The first research objective of the present environment. 9 feel greater mechanical barriers to while the LAS still is a highly robust. For the qualitative essay your thoughts and feelings as you data. First. Write an es.000 words describing CCTDI scores. None their insufficient knowledge of the library of these newly developed scales have (Hypothesis 4). and . Thus. For this purpose. e have greater affective barriers in however. students were asked to write The major analytical procedure used in an essay to report a critical incident from this study included both quantitative and their past experience of library use fol. would: Anxiety Scale (MLAS)19 and Snunith Sho. Anxiety Scale (H-LAS). such as Doris sitions. and demonstrated general applicability yet. .021 to Recall your most recent or most test specific research hypotheses that memorable experience of using the examined whether students with lower library and its resources to write CCTDI scores have higher library anxiety a research a paper. * feel greater barriers with staff in ham and Diane Mizrachi's Hebrew-Library using the library (Hypothesis 1). five research technology in the digital library.'8 The scale was developed in study was to investigate whether college 1992 mostly reflecting the physical library students with weak critical thinking dispo- environment. A specific focus was given to how LAS are recapitulated in table 1 with the two interact as they move along the their classical theory alpha reliability process of information searching in the coefficient scores generated for the study library. despite the known mechanism that explains the association limitations.72 feel when you used the library and for mechanical barriers. have been efforts to resolve this concern by students with weak critical thinking dispo- developing an undated scale. for the quan- lowing the instruction below: titative survey data.

54 tured.56 6.53 3.71 28. values reason and the use of evi- dence when facing challenging situations rather than deciding on the basis of whim or impulse Systematicity Care in focusing attention on the problem . .D.12 5.47 2. and non-threaten- ing place Knowledge of Degree to which students believe they are .75 mindedness opinions and honesty in facing one's own bias Analyticity Cognizant of the potential for problematic .95 informed and knowing how things work.84 27. .65 30. logical.69 the Library familiar with the library Mechanical Discomfort stemming from using library . persistent through difficul- ties are encountered Maturity Understands some problems to be ill-struc. secure. therefore multiple ways to solve any given problem LAS 5 Dimensions .75 18. Self-assured regarding one's own reason. Critical Thinking and Library Anxiety among Undergraduate Students 121 TABLE 1 Dimensions of Critical Thinking Dispositions and Library Anxiety with Reliability Scores Dimensions Definitions Reliability Mean S. values being well. printers.24 6.91 34.69 30.85 the Library welcoming.27 Staff unapproachable.38 seeking asking questions. approach problems in diligent. . orderly in working with complexity CT Self. organized.60 10.63 at hand. inaccessible.72 6. and honest and objective in asking questions Open.56 1.93 Barriers with Believes that librarians are threatening.58 situations.93 Barriers equipment.81 28. focused.30 8.62 30. Open-minded and tolerant of divergent . .86 30.91 Truth.31 7. too busy with duties to help students Affective Feels inadequate or inept in attempt.15 5.78 34. very comfortable with own level of cognitive ability Inquisitiveness Intellectually curious.32 5. and photocopiers . audacious about . . Keen to seek the truth. including computers. values learning. safe.72 7. (a) CCTDI 7 Dimensions .92 confidence ing processes. which are exacerbated by assuming that other people are more proficient Comfort with Perceives the library as a comfortable. .45 Barriers ing library tasks.97 5. and attentive inquiry. systematic.

To com- students (n = 267) reported by the CCTDI pare students with strong and weak CTD.13 18.12 3. SD a normative sample of undergraduate = 30. This informs that presented in table 1.24 32.03 111. 22 Accord. **p < .17 11.55 4.97 20.10 3. To characterize the the sample was characterized by lower- present sample. the participants were first divided thinking dispositional component.483*** Affective Barriers 27.5) among the study sample. TABLE 2 Comparisons of Library Anxiety Between Strong and Weak Critical Thinking Disposition (CTD) Groups (N = 74) Library Library Anxiety Mean Score Difference in t. Anxiety Strong CTD Weak CTD Library Dimensions Group (n =37) Group (.127** Comfort with the 16. =37) Anxiety Between Groups Barriers with Staff 30. weaker in their critical thinking in the taining to the critical thinking disposition present study than the normative sample and the library anxiety dimensions are across all seven scales. analyticity (42% vs.761* Overall Library 93. Students who edness (50% vs. 17%). were selected for analysis. would have greater library anxiety than tional component.191** Library Mechanical Barriers 7.09 3. which were dimension for the present study versus ranged from 229 to 357 (Mean = 282. For this pur- are strong with respect to that critical pose.001.06 . undergraduate students for their critical thinking disposition scores reported by Quantitative Investigations the developers of the CCTDI. individuals who score to examine whether college students with below 40 on a given scale are weak with weak critical thinking dispositions (CTD) respect to that critical thinking disposi. whereas individuals students with strong CTD in each of the who score above 50 on a given scale five areas of library anxiety. 22%). 44%).2.230** Library Knowledge of the 9. The into three equal groups with respect to proportion of students who scored below their total CCTDI score (that is. scored 300 or above were categorized as 23%). developers was. me- 40 on each critical thinking dispositional dium.94 5.88 38.83 1. and low CTD groups). the sample was com. maturity assigned as the weak CTD group (n = 37). whereas thinking self-confidence (38% vs. students who scored 264 or below were inquisitiveness (45% vs. as follows: students in either high or low CTD groups truth-seeking (82% vs.20 7. 60%). 15%).70 3.05). critical the strong CTD group (n = 37).72 2.122 College & Research Libraries March 2008 Results (55% vs. *p<.01. systematicity (63% vs. . respectively. and CCTDI total (49% ParticipantCharacteristics vs. 25%). 14%).824*** Anxiety "Independent samples one-tailed t-tests for the difference in library anxiety (***p < .32 3.23 8. high. than-average levels of critical thinking pared with the normative sample of the dispositions. The five research hypotheses were tested ing to their report. open-mind. More students were classified The means and standard deviations per.

as follows: the strong CTD group: "Iwas intimidated barriers with staff (30.2).7). The aforemen- tioned Sarah. to search for information. 11. often graduate students. specifically affective barriers and five research hypotheses. I was able to use the library (17. the weak CTD group was initial feeling as. was prevalent among across all five LAS dimensions.0 vs. includ- sociation between the two affects among ing the aforementioned students. respectively. went on to say: "When I went into Most College Students the library. emerged from the content analysis in the hampered critical thinking skills and sequence from the beginning to the end abilities that were supposed to be utilized of the library task. there were constant indications section describes general patterns that that library anxiety. The t-test results supported all anxiety. to research something not using the Inter- The average library anxiety scores be. library sions. interesting to see that participants. revealing that. I was immediately confused According to the narratives from the col.. 9 vs. was investigated further by analyzing the contents of essays in which the par. 20. fusion quickly led to frustration. senior) who was in were compared. 32. and the con- lege students participating in this study.. were consistently higher among the weak I didn't want to ask a librarian for help CTD group across all five LAS dimen." Just like (19. Library Anxiety Hampered Critical ticipants reported a critical incident of Thinking Skills their own library use in the past. but I would say their difference in each of the five library that they overwhelm me to the extent that anxiety areas. t-tests at the .2 vs. a negative affect.2 vs. many study participants felt that into the weak CTD group expressed her their thinking capability was hampered .2 vs." This feeling of being lost was also ob- tween the strong and weak CTD groups served in Heather (27. affective since I had never had to search for books barriers (27. library anxiety seems to be and logic[call skills but my patience with a common experience to most students in 'where do I even start' is what makes the beginning of their library use. net. "I would not say that compared with the strong CTD group for libraries intimidate me.. 8. I do feel regardless of their critical thinking dispo. This Indeed. I had no idea how the library was set up riers (7..24 It was also earlier study that reported a negative as. comfort with the in the library before." As such.1). barriers with staff. library (9..05 significance level.9). It was rather surprising to learn tend to have a statistically higher level of that the narratives in the present study library anxiety than students with strong were very similar to those in Mellon's critical thinking dispositions (a < .a3 compared their library use to Internet searching.05). students most college students participating in this with weak critical thinking dispositions study. Critical Thinking and Library Anxiety among Undergraduate Students 123 Subsequently. Library anxiety scores and it was like walking through a maze. in which they seemed to feel QualitativeInvestigations more capable and comfortable when look- The nature of the negative associations ing for information. sophomore) who was categorized Sarah. 38. The tests were conducted I avoid them altogether. Test I don't know where to start when I have results are presented in table 2. that I possess a very high level of thinking sition scores. because I felt foolish. and mechanical bar. who is in the weak CTD Library Anxiety was Prevalent Among group. about which floor to go to. widely cited 20-year-old study where 75 These test results from undergraduate percent to 85 percent of college students students confirmed the finding of an reported library anxiety. knowledge of the computer to find books that I wanted. my biggest using a series of independent sample shame is that I am clueless in the library. Sarah me most uneasy at the library.1).

low expectations. Eventually. trying to figure a way to start my to figure their way out: research . pessimism. Once I thinking disposition. I figured out the in turn. I knew I could find plenty of thinking abilities: "When I first started resource material to research. "calmed my that negative affective states (such as frus. and low motivation) disrupt could find plenty of resource material to cognitive strategies. inter.. I felt like I was lost in a sea. Other students have attempted try- ing out different library resources and When I first walked in[to] the library facilities when they felt barriers.124 College & Research Libraries March 2008 by their feelings of being lost and anx. . my research. I had no idea how the library ing stuff. This I was intimidated.. However.. Jen (22. This found all of the books I wanted. senior) noted systems enabled students to bring their her experience as follows: thinking capabilities back to normal. in my nerves. I didn't want to ask figure a way to start my research") was a librarian for help because I felt activated when facing challenges. low her critical thinking ability ("I knew I self-efficacy. (Heather in the strong Reinstate Critical Thinking Abilities and CTD group) to Reduce Anxiety The narratives in the student essays As such. resolve the problem. estingly. I had no problem finding the weak CTD group) who stated that his the information that I was looking feeling of being lost debilitated his normal for.. A similar experience was shared by tary school. while library anxiety was showed that students tend to take vari. ized that it was still a library and I This helped students quickly reinstate . another aspect of critical ger than what I was used to.. When I finally calmed a male student Matt (19." This phenomenon may be approach the problem logically ("took explained by Diane Nahl. . nerves") and self-confidence toward tration." This critical spirit or positive was set up and it was like walking critical thinking disposition ("trying to through a maze. sophomore. quently among students with strong CTD. his subsequent statement hinted Some students expressed apprehen- at a transition away from the anxiety. inquisitiveness. out well once I figured out where everything was and finally found Critical Thinking Dispositions Helped to my books. which helped lower her affec- Although Matt stated that his anxiety tive barriers to the library and eventually had hampered his thinking abilities. commonly reported in the narratives of ous approaches when they encountered novice college library users. I noteworthy transition is described in felt that my thinking abilities turned further detail below. strong critical thinking proper path: "I was just looking around dispositions of systematicity enabled them blank. served as a force to reinstate the way the library was organized and hampered critical thinking skills. I didn't know where to start. I had more self-esteem about find. never used the library before to find infor- sense that led him to move forward to the mation. For a few Jen's efforts to tackle the problem minutes I felt like my thinking abilities can be attributed to her disposition to were gone... which. have been using them since elemen- ious. research")... a systematic feelings of being lost and the subsequent approach to understanding the academic cognitive incapability of pursuing the library's seemingly complex organization problem at hand. It was a little big. after walking around a few laps. foolish.. who contended a couple of deep breaths". . It sion in using the library because they had was his efforts to make sense out of non.. was observed fre- took a couple of deep breaths I real.

29 . the problem. These positive associated with library anxiety among dispositions help reinstate the hampered graduate students. Throughout." None of task-relevant activities:26 the seven critical thinking dispositions were observed in her essay. Critical Thinking and Library Anxiety among Undergraduate Students 125 cognitive strategies that can help perform The resulting work was poor. the qualitative data analysis process. in an effort to carry out the task when tions were also reported to be particularly facing problems (Stage 4). these three disposi. Thus. remained clueless and Once I did that. able to return and start my research In sum. position in the current study. I will admit at first I was apprehen. In fact. ings properly. While the problems. common experience with the initiation of cal thinking skills while reducing library an information search task in the library anxiety. (Hudson in the strong provided further explanations of the CTD group) negative association between library anxi- ety and critical thinking by elucidating According to Diane Nahl.. some students.. another in the library research process. dents generally feel library anxiety as a tions helped reinstate the impeded criti. simultaneously in the present study. and in. debilitates critical thinking skills seem to be more frequently observed and abilities (Stages 2-3). I had no good notes to refer formance due to illogical approaches to to when I sat down to write the essay. a negative critical thinking disposition dimensions affect. However...2 critical thinking skills (Stage 5). reduce Positive critical thinking dispositions library anxiety (Stage 6). sive and unsure of the steps to take this student remained weak in her critical and the route to go or where to find thinking dispositions. After 7 was only posited based on the student three exhausting days of worrying and reports as well as the previous literature pretending my search was going well. I felt very comfort. and possibly were generally observed among most help the student find information relevant students in their attempts to face the to the research task (Stage 7). critical thinking disposi. can "provide This process was depicted in the Inter- persistence and integration to cognitive active Model of Critical Thinking and strategies by managing ambiguity and Library Anxiety in figure 1. are prompted quisitiveness... and the areas I would need to focus by not dealing with the negative feel- on and be in during my time there. hopeless. Facing this than others. her initial things. each floor. where help was located Just as with this student. I was confident that by subjective student reports."' According to the model. positive af. Library anxiety. 27 cognitive loads. sequence in the student reports. . a positive affect. Indeed. positive critical thinking dis- self-confidence. college stu- As shown. systematicity. I took it upon myself to take confidence in research and thinking abili- a trip to the library to walk around ties was diminished over time with her and learn the layout and content of growing frustrations with the library. Some of the Facione's seven (Stages 1-2). the fifth which tend to be the case more among and sixth stages appeared to occur almost those students with lower CCTDI scores. Stage I could write a satisfactory essay. Stage The following remarks were noted by a 7 was not actually assessed by objective female sophomore who scored low in data because the degree of relevancy of her CCTDI and high in her LAS: "When the behaviors could not be determined I first chose the story. I that reported that anxiety hinders per- gave up. the dispositions first four stages appeared in a distinctive were not observed from some students.. positions. and without finding any breakthrough.. how the two concepts interact with one fective states.. such as critical thinking dis. These were critical thinking situation.

I was more relaxed '2 with my surroundings and my thinking Cu 4' abilities then expanded". Right away. it 4'1 appears that both understanding the values of the library through the use of C4. the actual library use had certainly enhanced criti- cal thinking self-confidence. Nonetheless. Besides the dynamic interaction between library anxiety and critical thinking. This finding could ci• c. junior) Indeed." >-~ It was not certain whether critical thinking skills were actually enhanced O 4) as the student reported.J3 explain Whitmire's earlier cross-sectional . were enhanced.ý .. However. Positive library use experience c. an affective 4- domain. after experiencing the 4a library and the research process." As another student put ~• - it." C-l Co 4) (Laura. "The more I explored and used both I gained a comfort and understanding of both allowing my 4) oI '4 thinking abilities and skills to feel con- S°u crete and stable.4) seems to help even the most frustrated students feel more relaxed and confident in their thinking skills: "It was during this instant that my relentless anxiety [of the 4' library] started to change for the better. "my thinking abilities and skills in the ~ z entire process were developed through 4' the whole process. the qualitative investigation also revealed r- 4) > 4) another notable finding. helped students perform the task properly. positive ex- '. I was greeted by a warm and friendly librarian who put me at ease. or whether '4 the students just felt that their critical 0 thinking skills. That is.4 perience with librarians lowered library anxiety. students <4 4) 4'1 4) seemed to gain confidence in both library '4 '4 cj rJ) use and their thinking abilities: "As my research went on. In the beginning. 1. the service and positive experience with librarians helped assuage frustrations 4) 4) '4 and build confidence. critical 0 thinking abilities and dispositions could 4) change over time with the progression of "1') research and library use. in turn. 24. which.126 College & Research Libraries March 2008 Critical Thinking Develops with the Use of College Libraries. a cognitive domain..2 students generally expressed weak criti- 4' cal thinking self-confidence and library anxiety. In short.

confirming Mellon's two-decade-old ing both quantitative and qualitative data study finding that most college freshmen sets from 137 undergraduate students at a suffered from library anxiety. the proposed model anxiety. While the how affective states. was going well..' interactions strengthen the claims made in the framework of Kuhlthau's informa- Discussion tion-search process (ISP). the ISP illustrates mation sources and databases. After three exhausting days quantitative part of the investigation. dispositions in the information search ting help from librarians." Because her tion enabled the researcher to identify a positive dispositions were not activated model that illustrates dynamic interac. I gave up.. and (e) thinking skills hampered by library anxi- feel greater frustrations in using library ety were reinstated and library anxiety equipment. she remained ap- anxiety and critical thinking dispositions) prehensive and seemed to have failed to and their relationships with critical think. (b) feel greater process by illustrating their influences inadequacy and frustrations in using the on the subsequent cognitive and affec- library. the results of the quantitative many Millennials. (d) dispositions were present. is investigated the nature of the associations that most students in the present study between critical thinking dispositions and expressed uneasy feelings with the ini- library anxiety among college students. these dynamic enhancing critical thinking skills. 3 2 Unlike most Information seeking often involves critical conceptual models of information seeking.. students with weak depicts a pivotal role of critical thinking CTD tend to (a) feel greater barriers in get.. showed that undergraduate students with to perform their library task. informs southeastern research university. The present study finding. "I was analysis of students' narratives regarding lost in the library. studies have examined their dynamic Probably a very notable but disturbing associations to date.e. who was weak in tions were also observed through content critical thinking disposition. Critical Thinking and Library Anxiety among Undergraduate Students 127 survey finding that library use is a factor ing skills (figure 1). strong critical thinking dispositions were brary anxiety and critical thinking disposi.. Triangulating about this experience that made me feel the results from the qualitative investiga. ferent mechanism was observed when The negative associations between li. When strong critical thinking comfortable and more threatening. (c) perceive the library as less tive states. tiation of library task. The cross-sectional survey data to be technologically savvy and proficient. Specifically. . properly to handle her negative emotion tions between the two affects (i. find relevant information). 33 the new generation and qualitative data analysis strengthened that was born in 1982 or after and known each other.. such as anxiety and associations between critical thinking and confusion. library when facing a problem. A dif- 31 affects among graduate students. the qualitative investiga. In fact. confident in my thinking abilities or writ- tion provided rich explanations of the ing skills. thinking in identifying and evaluating where the cognitive aspect of the search relevant resources from a myriad of infor. There was nothing their library use experience. as indicated in the model. Accordingly.e. few empirical interacting with cognitive stages. Michelle. These findings about college was diminished. find information relevant to her task. of worrying and pretending my search Furthermore. The association was examined by collect. the critical feel less familiar with the library. students students are largely consistent with the seemed to perform behaviors that were finding of an earlier study that revealed relevant to carry out their research tasks a negative association between the two (i. not present. that library anxiety still is a hindrance for Overall. process is highlighted. wrote. could hinder performance by library anxiety are intuitive. This phenomenon. weak CTD tend to have greater library More important.

influences cognitive activities sample. handling the problem served as the cue In addition. researchers have thinking dispositions are the key factor started to unveil the role of affect and its that activates cognitive capabilities (that interactions with cognition in the context is. It can also be contended that critical information behavior has moved a step thinking disposition is a catalyst that can forward to the understanding of how change the information search process diverse affects play a role to create effec- from frustration to hope.. participated in this study were recruited ment. critical thinking abilities) and regulates of information behaviors. the no problem finding the information. study revealed not only a reciprocal re- sistence and integration to cognitive lationship between critical thinking and strategies by handling ambiguity and library anxiety throughout but also the cognitive loads properly. positive affect facilitates in the information search process. an Nahl's affective load theory in which asset for successful information searching. the present positive affective states command per. memory. Thus.128 College & Research Libraries March 2008 The above findings revealed how criti. continuing efforts. This finding tive coping mechanisms for information further suggests the importance of posi. this existing body of knowledge by un- The results of the present study covering a mechanism that explains how strengthen the claims made by Diane the cognitive aspect of critical thinking. decision-making. Once I found to have lower than average levels of took a couple of deep breaths I realized that critical thinking dispositions compared to it was still a library and I have been using the normative sample that was reported them since elementary school. judg. limitations of the study and to resolve tive affect serves as a cue that retrieves several unclear pictures in the findings. interrupt the search. it can be contended that critical As discussed above. research is anticipated because of some The underlying mechanism is that posi. library anxi. learning by making simplifying the task Despite many useful outcomes.. cues related to the existing students who chose to take this course. 37 The tive affect in carrying out the information findings of the present study can augment task successfully.. skills than the normal population. result. further 35 and making research more efficient. This This theoretical explanation is manifested fact might have skewed the study results. whereas critical thinking. which. positive material in memory and that. because this study is the that enabled her to retrieve her existing first study that investigated the dynamic . in Jen's remark: "when I first walked in In fact. When it comes to the uncertainty. In this regard. From this effectively. One limitation relates to the study in turn. 36 Through negative emotions (that is. when facing elective course.. Kimberly Daubman. the student's orderly approach to this sample characteristic in mind. This is because. I had by the CCTDI developers. similarity. and often can still be reinstated by positive affect of bring a premature termination. searchers suffering from uncertainty. The undergraduate students who (that is. negative affective states disrupt cognitive can be hampered by library anxiety but strategies.. then.34 According to dynamic interactions between cognitive Alice Isen. and Joyce and affective aspects of critical thinking Gorgoglione.. the participants of this study were the library I was intimidated. cal thinking dispositions work in carrying helped her perform cognitive tasks more out information search tasks. knowledge of the library. body of knowledge become associated they might represent the students who with the new knowledge and later are have greater needs in developing research able to serve as effective cues for recall. categorization. and from an information literacy course creative problem solving) in unfamiliar that they took as either a required or an contexts. our understanding of ety)." findings of this study should be read with Clearly..

huge model identified in this study should academic library. the Millermials value of learning so that students could or Generation Y who are considered to build the habit of being persistent when be very competent and comfortable about facing intellectual challenges. the findings of the current the task relevance. The aforementioned study can offer practical implications for limitations warrant future studies using teaching information literacy in general different data collection techniques. instruction librar- services for assisting students in the process ians could teach students in a direction of learning and using information they have to support them to feel a greater level located. instruction librarians should teach critical thinking dispositions to Conclusions promote positive emotions while teach- Higher education institutions have come ing library anxiety as a natural part of to recognize information literacy as a key learning process in order to reduce nega- educational component in preparing their tive emotions. and critical thinking specifically. several strat- As Kuhlthau once pointed out. egies can be suggested for instruction ship for the information age goes beyond librarians who teach critical thinking services for locating information to creating dispositions. narratives. Behavior Performed") was assumed With increasing knowledge about based on participants' subjective reports the affective domain of information rather than objective actual evaluations of behavior. this sequence it also undermines his or her competence should be examined further because at the research task. information technology every day. the interactive and intimidated in an unfamiliar. Stage 7 ("Task-relevant developing research skills. it seems that confidence Stage 5 ("CT Skills Reinstated") and breeds competence and vice versa. First. However. while the model presents library skills. the their online-networked environment instruction librarians could encourage using Blogs. MySpace. The data with this knowledge of the interaction collected for this study did not allow the between cognition and affect and to researcher to determine the sequence due develop instructional skills accordingly. Finally. the librarians could create a behavioral aspects of learning. yet and systematic approaches when facing . and every other students to employ diligent. It was very learning environment that encourages interesting to note immense emotional intellectual curiosity and emphasizes the challenges that students. With regard to the development of In particular. Each Stage 6 ("LA Diminished") in a separate half of the cycle strengthens the other as the sequence. and addition. the two stages appeared cycle repeats. affective.3 Concluding this report." 39 This remark suggests a holistic of confidence about their own reason- approach to teaching information literacy ing processes and cognitive abilities. confused. Despite such as keeping diaries or longer-term the general notion that teaching critical observational techniques. focused. students in this fast-changing 21st century. to the limitation of somewhat summative This will help librarians to prepare to reports of past experience in the present be positive enablers for students in study. to further thinking involves cognitive activities clarify the last three stages of the model only. Therefore. this study showed the importance and to enhance the generalizability of the of the affective domain of critical think- findings of the current study. in fact. Thus. If the instruction librarian almost simultaneously in the student undermines a student's self-confidence. and library anxiety. "Librarian. be further validated by a future study. In that incorporates cognitive. ing. Also. Critical Thinking and Library Anxiety among Undergraduate Students 129 interactions between critical thinking became so uncomfortable. occur sequentially. it will be the seemingly concurrent appearance important for librarians to be equipped may.

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