Within the study of information literacy, it’s hard to avoid the circumstances under which students learn most effectively. While most of the studies focus on how students learn – globally, visually, structurally, etc. – the environmental factors in which they learn are also important. In the library classroom, the environment is controlled, the instructor the focus of attention (usually), able to account for and negate any distracting factors. Where many students do their research – the library – is another matter.
The Chronicle recently posted an article on quiet zones in libraries, and how researchers in the University of Washington’s Project Information Literacy examined students’ study preferences. They found that many students seek out the quiet of the library to focus on their research and work. While there’s a focus on libraries that can provide group study areas where students can work together and chat, there’s a push back from students to keep their quiet areas quiet.
The Undergraduate Library here on campus has a noise-friendly floor (to a point), and a quiet floor. Speaking from the experience of working there, I am continually amazed at the number of students who arrive on a regular basis for the sole purpose of quiet study. More than that, I'm amazed that the students are the ones who patrol and enforce it, reporting most disruptions to the nearest librarian or student assistant.