Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Research Skills: Bridging the Gap Between High School and Post-Secondary LibGuide

Transitioning from School to Higher Education.


“Recent surveys indicate there is a widening gap between the information literacy skills (research skills) of high school students and the information literacy skills expectations post-secondary professors have of incoming  first-year university students. In response to this perceived gap, a high school teacher-librarian teacher, Leslie Barton from Pleasant Valley Secondary, Armstrong, BC and Okanagan College Vernon Campus Librarian, Jennifer Sigalet collaborated on the joint production of the video Research Skills: Bridging the Gap Between High School & Post-Secondary  (DVDwhich features personal interviews of six university professors responding to the question: 

The filmed interviews confirmed the results of previous studies and reports and reflected the concerns of Okanagan College professors regarding gaps in information literacy skills of incoming first year university students.   Since the production of Research Skills: Bridging the Gap Between High School & Post-Secondary in 2010,the film has become a powerful tool for creating an awareness of the existing information literacy skills shortfalls of students entering post-secondary education. Although the original goal of the film was to present the results of the interviews to key players in the local educational community (high school administrators, teachers, teacher librarians, school boards, and university professors and librarians) in support of retaining teacher-librarians, the film was used as a presentation springboard at over five professional workshops and conferences locally, provincially, nationally and beyond since this writing.


In the spring of 2011 Okanagan College Library embarked on a further examination of the question:
What research skills do college professors expect first-year students to have?

Finding answers to this question was the primary goal of the Library Research Skills Survey 2011 team, a collaboration within the Okanagan College Library Department between Sherri Savage, a MLIS candidate at San Jose State University and Jennifer Sigalet, Vernon Campus librarian.  As in the film project, the survey aimed to identify the expectations instructors have of first-year college students’ research skills. The proposed method of assessment was a multi-campus survey distributed via email to Okanagan College instructional faculty teaching university transfer and business courses. Building on the guiding interview question from the Research Skills film project and grounded in the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards, an institutional email survey was designed and launched in the spring of 2011 to further investigate the research skills expectations college professors have of first year students.”

Survey Goals and Methodology  
to identify the expectations instructors have of first-year college students’ research skills
Target Audience: Okanagan College instructional faculty in university transfer and business courses
Method of Assessment: multi-campus email survey

Highlights of the Research Skills Survey may be found in the WILU 2011 Session Papers for the presentation Grasssroots Collaborations: Bridging the Gap between High School and Post-Secondary

Savage, S.B.,& Sigalet, J.M. (1 June, 2011).  Library Research Skills Survey Report: What research skills do college professors expect first-year students to have? Kelowna, BC: Okanagan College Library.

Survey: What research skills do Okanagan College faculty expect first year students to have?

Research Skills Survey: Ten Research Skills Expectations

Ranked order

What research skills do you expect students to have when entering first year university?


How to locate and access information            


How to avoid plagiarism and recognize the importance of citing and referencing sources  


How to recognize when information is needed            


How to evaluate the credibility and authority of information                        


How to organize and apply information effectively      


How to differentiate between popular and scholarly sources 


How to differentiate between a primary and secondary source


How to create a research strategy or keep a research journal  


How to synthesize and build on existing information


Other:  expect them to develop these skills


Research Skills Survey

Okanagan College faculty were asked this question in a recent survey:
Do you think first-year students transitioning from high school have the research skills needed to 
succeed in first-year university?

73.0%   NO
10.6%   YES
16.2%   Other*    

•       Most students are mature
•       They may be short of time
•       Not sure, but expected to have
•       It's a work in progress
•       They can build what they have to learn

Did not contact a librarian to provide in-class research instruction. Why not?

Of those who said not they did not contact a librarian to provide research instruction:

  • the majority of the respondents replied that time was a factor
  • class time should be spent on course content. 
  • therefore there is not enough time for librarian led research instruction and prefer students to go to the library during their own time to improve research skills. 
  • some of the professors taught research instruction themselves to the students
  • others assumed that other professors would cover it or already had. 
  • instructors require librarian led research instruction outside of class time or in-class librarian led sessions that last for short durations. 

This site is maintained by the librarians of Okanagan College Library.
If you wish to comment on an individual page, please contact that page's author.
If you have a question or comment about Okanagan College Library's LibGuides site as a whole, please contact the site administrator.