One of the challenges of conducting the Digital Equity in Libraries project was finding instruments that gave us the data we needed to understand the digital problem solving skills of historically underserved adults in a library setting. After looking at a number of instruments, the research team decided to use the Problem Solving in Technology Rich Environments (PSTRE) assessment connected to the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) and accessed through Education and Skills Online administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
We also created a 21-item Library Use Survey that collected basic demographics, information on library use, and participant perception of the difficulty level of various library tasks.
Our quantitative data were collected in two phases and involved two sets of participants. Our first phase of data collection occurred in the library and through the library’s newsletter and website. Our second phase of data collection was conducted through the library’s outreach program. A total of 450 participants took the library use survey, and 211 completed the PSTRE assessment.
Once the survey and assessment data were collected, we moved through three phases of analysis. First we looked at the basic demographics. We then compared the two sets of participants. We also conducted a latent class analysis that examined the underlying relationship between the two groups.
The basic demographic results can be found on page 2 of the results document.
The group comparison showed that those from the outreach community had less access to the internet from home than the phase one participants. The participants from the outreach community also navigated across a more limited number of digital contexts when compared to the phase one participants. A table illustrating this result can be found Table 1 of the results document.
Additional analysis (see Table 2 of the document) indicated that library website use is a strong predictor of higher PSTRE scores.
This analysis lead us to ask further questions about the nature of digital problem solving and the role of experience and working across contexts. Our investigation into that question was addressed through qualitative data collection and analysis, which will be the subject of the next post.
For more information about our quantitative results, we invite you to download the document at PDX Scholar.