Evaluating the Los Angeles Public Library’s Kidspath Homework Help Services http://www.lapl.org/kidspath/
What is Kidspath? The Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) offers homework help resources to students through Kidspath. The site is modeled for elementary school students and their parents. The site offers live chat references services, LAPL databases, and selected websites offering homework resources.
Proposal Introduction The problem is that it is unclear whether or not the services of Kidspath are adequate enough to answer students’ homework-related inquires. To address this problem, a quantitative approach will be taken, which includes a voluntary online survey for the patrons of Kidspath.
Purpose Statement The purpose of the survey will be to determine how well the homework-related resources of Kidspath help students answer questions or find information needed for school assignments. The survey will also test Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process theory, relating a “zone of intervention” with the services of Kidspath and testing how well students perform (or expect to perform) on homework assignments based on their experiences with Kidspath.
Literature Review There is very little literature that addresses the evaluation of online homework help sites in public libraries for elementary school students. When discussing elementary and secondary students, the literature tends to cover school media libraries rather than public libraries The research would fill a gap in the literature by focusing on elementary school students and their information seeking needs.
Variables Independent variable = Kidspath services defined as live chat reference and static reference resources. Dependent variable = How well students perceive that they will perform (or have actually performed) on a test or assignment based on their experiences using Kidspath. Intervening variables = The patience/persistence level of a student and a student’s level of satisfaction with Kidspath. Control variable = Students in the third grade and above and their parents or guardians.
Research Questions What is the student’s achievement level (or expected level) on an assignment or test after having consulted the resources of Kidspath? Is there a connection between a student’s satisfaction with using Kidspath and their actual or expected achievement level? Does a student’s level of patience with using Kidspath have any relationship to their satisfaction with the site? Is a student’s level of patience related to their achievement level?
Survey Design The population is the remote users of Kidspath. The sample is a convenience sample of patrons who voluntarily answer the survey during a three-month period. Surveymonkey will be used to administer the survey. Both nominal and ordinal scales will be used. Approximately 6-9 questions.
Survey Design continued The research will use SurveyMonkey’s “all responses received spreadsheet.” The data may be downloaded into an Excel spreadsheet to further analyze the data. A descriptive analysis will address data for all of the variables. Will discuss means and range of scores.
Ethical Considerations IRB exempt because it is research conducted in an established education setting testing the effectiveness of educational techniques involving the use of survey procedures that protect the privacy and confidentiality of the participants. Since the survey population mainly involves minors under the age of 18, the researcher will provide a very clear and easy to understand informed consent form. A disclaimer will be provided to recommend that a parent or guardian assist patrons under the age of 13 with the survey.
Research Implications The study may help public library professionals develop a best practices model for their homework help resources. Students would benefit from improvements to Kidspath, which may better serve their efforts to solve homework problems and write research reports. Teachers and school media librarians may be interested in the study and decide to direct their students to Kidspath or develop similar resources for their own libraries.