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Are transfer students lagging behind in information literacy?

Min Tong (University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA)
Carrie Moran (University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 12 June 2017




The purpose of this study was to assess the information literacy proficiency of transfer students. This assessment of skills was undertaken to improve the services provided to transfer students in academic libraries, with a particular focus on information literacy instruction.


The Project Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (SAILS) test was administered to assess the information literacy proficiency of a cohort of undergraduate students taking courses on two regional campuses of a four-year institution. In total, 114 students participated, and SAILS test scores were compared to several demographic characteristics using one-way and two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA).


Results showed that undergraduate students generally lack information literacy skills, even at the junior and senior levels. Previous library instruction had a positive impact on scores for two of the Association of College and Research Libraries information literacy standards, suggesting that library instruction programs can be effective at improving these skills. When examining performance across the board on the various information literacy skills, there was no significant difference between transfer and native students in this result set.

Research limitations/implications

This study had a limited sample size, and only tested students taking courses from two regional campus locations. Follow-up studies could broaden the scope to include main campus transfer students to form a larger sample size.


It was difficult to find original research within the library literature that directly addressed information literacy skills in a mixed population of transfer and native students. Further research in this area can serve to improve the services offered to all students within academic libraries.



Tong, M. and Moran, C. (2017), "Are transfer students lagging behind in information literacy?", Reference Services Review, Vol. 45 No. 2, pp. 286-297.



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