Document Type

Conference Proceeding



Publication Date



College students of the Millennial generation present a new challenge to educators -- Millennials’ needs and expectations are different from preceding generations. They have a different relationship with technology which translates into different learning styles, and most importantly, different expectations of when, where, and how to learn.

By the late 1990s, online tutorials became popular tools to teach information literacy skills. Western Michigan University (WMU) Libraries was an early adopter, creating the awardwinning Searchpath tutorial in 1999. This tutorial has been a highly successful tool with support from faculty who require that students complete it; however, it had not been updated to reflect changes in technology or the pedagogical needs of Millennials. The authors examined the technological needs and expectations of Millennials and found that Searchpath was insufficient in meeting either. We addressed both of these concerns through a re-creation of our tutorial, renaming it ResearchPath, a dynamic audio, visual, and kinesthetic experience that is more responsive to student needs, expectations, and learning styles.

Millennial learning styles and preferences include less lecture time, active learning, flexibility, on-demand learning, task-based assignments, effective use of technology, and incorporating various teaching styles. By reducing the amount of text, increasing interactivity, and shortening the length of time it takes to complete, ResearchPath is more accessible, appealing, and simpler for Millennials. This article shares our findings regarding Millennial students’ needs, expectations, and other characteristics. The results of our study compare the relative effectiveness of the original tutorial with the new tutorial in meeting student learning outcomes and student satisfaction with both content and format. Finally, we recommend strategies for updating, re-creating, and developing tutorials geared towards building bridges to the unique learning styles of Millennial learners.

Published Citation

Dianna E. Sachs, Carrie C. Leatherman, and Kathleen A. Langan. "Building Bridges: Restructuring online library tutorials to span the generation gap and meet the needs of millennial students.” (with Dianna Sachs and Kate Langan), Loex Annual Conference Proceedings" Bridging and Beyond: Developing Librarian Infrastructure: Papers Presented at the Thirty-Eighth National LOEX Library Instruction Conference, held in Dearborn, Michigan, April 29 through May 1, 2010 (2012).