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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

First Year student use of U Libraries

Today is the last day of class for Fall semester. Students are busy--slightly frantic even finishing up final papers, research projects, and studying for finals. Our staplers are getting a work out.

I have been thinking about our first year students finishing up their first semester. Project Information Literacy (PIL) recently released a new exploratory study called, "How Freshmen Conduct Course Research Once They Enter College. Through interviews and a survey of high school students and first year students PIL looked at the challenges new first year students face in their first semester in terms of the complexities of academic research and academic libraries.

We are also in the process of bringing up a new discovery layer for spring. I wonder what all these students will think when the come back for spring to a new website and one BIG search box. We are working on revising our guides and workshop, Intro to Library Research to support students use of our new tool. Our Library Data project has done a good job giving us some tangible ideas on improving student success in our workshops and online tutorials (e.g. authentic work like our Library Research Worksheet) and we are working on maximizing these learning opportunities within the relatively small amount of time we have with students.

I look forward to seeing how the discovery layer helps simplify (?) the search experience and considering how we work towards the higher level issues like critical inquiry, reading and making sense of academic literature, finding related sources, and so on.

Maybe we need to gather some data on those staplers.

Here are a few more selected findings:

  • Many freshmen, who assumed everything they needed to know was just a Google search away, soon discovered they were unprepared to deal with the enormous amount of information they were expected to find and process for college research assignments. This transition from completing high school assignments to doing college-level research is one of the most formidable challenges that incoming freshmen face.
  • To a lesser extent, they struggle with reading and comprehending scholarly materials once they are able to find them and have trouble figuring out faculty expectations for course research assignments.
  • Once freshmen began to conduct research in college for assignments, they soon
    discovered that their college library was far larger and more complex than their high
    school library had been
  • Most freshmen said their research competencies from high school were inadequate for college work. As they wrapped up their first term, freshmen said they realized they
    needed to upgrade their research toolkit.
  • In the short time they had been on campus, a majority of first-term freshmen said they
    had already developed some adaptive strategies for shoring up their high school research skills. Most often, this meant they were becoming accustomed to reading academic journal articles. Some had discovered the usefulness of abstracts to save time and help them make selections.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Usage stats

One of the things I love about this project, besides the actual relationship between library use and student success, is just that finally we are consistently tracking usage numbers from semester to semester. We have four semesters of data so far, and as you might expect, just the numbers alone reveal some interesting trends. For example, in the 13-15 areas we are tracking library use, usage of the library is trending upwards:

Of course, for some library transaction types we count frequencies in a unique way, and these numbers do not represent actual usage numbers, but in the way we count (essentially front-door access increments) the numbers are climbing. That can be seen as a good sign. However, where are we seeing the biggest increases? If you guessed digital resource access numbers, you have guessed correctly.

These numbers represent initial point of access numbers for databases, ebooks, and ejournals, and logins to our library website. Databases, ebooks, and ejournals are definitely being used more from semester to semester, while library web site logins are remaining relatively consistent.

Of course, this probably comes as no surprise, but people at the University of Minnesota are using our digital resources more and more, and the trend line seems to be climbing. It will be interesting to monitor these numbers in coming semesters, and compare them with other traditional library use types.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Do undergrads consider libraries important?

Our colleague Krista Soria has been busy--amazingly busy--analyzing data from the SERU (Student Experience in the Research University) survey to determine factors which correlate to how undergrad's rate the importance of libraries and research.

The data show areas of success and areas of opportunity--including targeting service development and promotion efforts, working more closely with student services including career services, aligning with programs that facilitate faculty sponsored research and more. This article deserves a read....

Here is the citation:
Soria, K.M., Factors Predicting the Importance of Libraries and Research Activities for Undergraduates, The Journal of Academic Librarianship (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2013.08.017 [Article in Press]

Here are few highlights:

  • Female undergraduates are significantly (p < .05) less likely to place importance upon libraries and research as male undergraduates.
  • Hispanic students, Asian students, international students, and students from an unknown or other racial identity place significantly (p < .05) more importance upon libraries and research than their peers.
  • Students from lower income families placed significantly greater (p < .05) value upon libraries and research compared with their peers from higher income families.
  • Transfer students were significantly (p < .05) more likely to perceive libraries and research activities as important than native students
  • Students enrolled in an arts or humanities, business, education, and health or physical fitness majors placed a significantly (p < .05) lower importance on academic libraries and research


  • "The inferential results of this study suggest several factors are positively associated with the importance students place upon academic libraries and research activities at research universities. These areas are among those that hold the greatest potential for library staff to leverage in garnering support for ongoing activities, future development and growth, and increased prioritization within the larger organization."
  • "Conversely, the presence of some student groups who view libraries and research activities as significantly less important than their peers beckons future inquiries into the reasons these students do not value libraries and research with as much importance as their peers."
  • "Finally, it is encouraging that students who have developed library and research skills place greater value upon libraries and research activities, as do students who are more satisfied with libraries and research opportunities."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Orientation is upon us

A bit of lunch time musings as we somewhat frantically prepare to welcome #umn17 to campus next week for Welcome Week (where did the summer go?). We also brought up our new discovery layer, MNCAT Article Discovery and I need to take it for a test drive so did a little search on Orientation and student success and retention and found this new article

Melissa A. Hubbard, Amber T. Loos, (2013) "Academic library participation in recruitment and retention initiatives", Reference Services Review, Vol. 41 Iss: 2, pp.157 - 181. DOI: 10.1108/00907321311326183

From my brief skim it certainly illustrations all academic libraries do in terms of recruitment and retention much of it partnering with other campus units. At the moment we have not folded the data we collect during the Libraries "big" day of events into our overall data partly as the experience between students is so variable during this 5000+ student events and party because the unit that hosts the event does gather and assess the students many times during their welcome week experience.

  • How do we draw the line (is it dotted?) between the bigger university's efforts and our role in those?
  • Should we be trying harder to connect those dots?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

How do CSE students and faculty use the library?

A few months ago, I took a slice of the 2011-12 academic year dataset we've been analyzing through the LDSS project and looked at it through a different lens. I compared students and faculty in the College of Science & Engineering (CSE) to their peers in other U of M colleges, and to each other. Krista Soria graciously repeated her regression analysis work investigating correlations between library use and other measures of student success for the CSE first year cohort.

This week I presented our findings as a poster at the American Society for Engineering Education annual conference in Atlanta. In summary, we found:

  • Positive correlations between library use and both GPA and Scholarship (as measured by the SERU instrument) for first year undergraduates in CSE

  • A much lower percentage of CSE undergraduates used library resources than did their peers in other colleges (65% of CSE undergraduates vs 79% of undergraduates in other colleges)

  • About the same percentage of CSE faculty and graduate students used library resources as those in other colleges

  • Patterns of use within each department yielded some unexpected results that have led and will lead to other avenues of investigation.

You can find both the poster and the research paper in the University Digital Conservancy.

Friday, June 14, 2013

AIR Forum 2013

A few weeks ago Krista and Shane presented at the Association for Institutional Research Forum 2013 in Long Beach. Here is their program listing and we hope to add the slides soon:

AIRUM Best Presentation: Linking Library Data and Student Success
Academic libraries, like other university departments, are increasingly asked to demonstrate their value to institutions. This study presents the results of analyses predicting the relationships between library usage and first-year students' retention, college experiences, and academic success at a large, public research university. Usage statistics were gathered across 13 different library access points and outcomes were derived institutionally (e.g., retention, grade point average) and aggregated through student surveys (e.g., academic engagement, scholarship activity).

Krista Soria (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities)
Shane Nackerud (University of Minnesota - Twin Cities)
Facilitator: Kevin Fosnacht

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Retention and how Libraries can support

Did you see this from Inside HigherEd,Research to Improve Retention, which lays out "12 research-validated risk factors." Obviously not all of these can be solved with resources/services of Libraries but a number can be. Here is the list:

1. Uneven formal academic knowledge and skills.
2. Lack of informal knowledge about being a college student.
3. Inadequate development of self-regulation skills.
4. Impaired self-efficacy and resilience.
5. A mindset believing in fixed rather than flexible abilities.
6. Inability to delay gratification.
7. Impaired ethical judgment.
8. Disengagement from the university environment.
9. Lack of interest in courses.
10. Issues in academic trajectory.
11. Psychological issues.
12. Financial concerns.

I continue to be interested in how we can be more explicit in "lifting the veil" on academic research such as -- how to pick a topic (not just a list of ideas), how to get started on research assignment, how to deal with frustration, how to make mistakes in research, how to troubleshoot problems/deadends, ethics in research, get out of the mindset of looking for a perfect source, etc. I know I assume a lot of background knowledge in the guides I make or sessions I teach. Seems, to me, like #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 12 are issues the libraries (along with many other campus partners) could have a role in working on.

Friday, May 3, 2013

ACRL 2013 Presentation slides

Only a few weeks later than expected...here is a link to our final slides

Overall our session at ACRL was good. It was interesting to hear what our co-panelists have found and to see the different ways to demonstrate value. Please contact us with any questions.

Monday, April 8, 2013

We will be at Academic and Research Libraries Conference 2013 (and Twitter)

We will be headed to cool Indianapolis later this week for ACRL 2013 annual conference.
Our slot is:

Do or Do Not...There is No Try: The Quest for Library Value
Saturday 4/13, 9:45 AM - 10:45 AM
Venue: JW, Room: Grand Ballroom 7-8

Program Description:
Librarians today can establish academic library value by linking library services and resources to the missions, goals, and needs of their institutions. Statistical correlations between student library interactions and established learning and retention measures offer one path to demonstrable library value. This panel reveals research results from three libraries that successfully followed this path, shares best practices for "doing" value research, and embraces the quest to both prove and improve the value of academic libraries.

Explain the concept of correlation and the role of correlation in establishing and communicating the value of academic libraries.
State several correlations between student interactions with the library and learning, retention, and achievement measures.
Form a plan for the investigation of correlations between library interactions and success measures at their own institutions.

Session Hashtag: #acrlcorrelation

In addition to Shane, Jan and Kate, we will be presenting with:
Graham Stone, Information Resources Manager, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield
David Pattern, Library Systems Manager, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield
Melissa Bowles-Terry, Instruction and Assessment Librarian, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY
Megan Oakleaf, Associate Professor, Syracuse University

It will be interesting to hear more what other institutions are doing from the horse's mouth as it were (beyond reading what they are writing), what challenges they are facing and what our colleagues think of all this.

We will add a link to a presentation once it is finished (hopefully later today).

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Summary of Portal articles

A summary of a couple of articles recently published in portal: Libraries and the Academy has been added the ACRL's Value of Academic Libraries site

University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Library Data and Student Success Project - Updates

The articles are also linked in the "valueography" . Although the name of this made me roll my eyes a bit--I want to read just about every single article listed. It is amazing what great research is being done in this area from instruction to archives to value.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Focusing on the First Year Conference Presentation

Here our the slides from our presentation for the Focusing on the First Year Conference, Feb. 13, 2013 at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

The Libraries' Role in the Success of First Year Students

Location: Room 326
It's standard advice for a college freshman: Use the library. But how many students take that advice? And what evidence exists that library use has a positive impact on student success? Which of the many services now provided by libraries are most important to students just beginning their undergraduate careers?

Working with the Office of Institutional Research (OIR), the University Libraries collected data on how people interacted with the library in Fall 2011 and Spring 2012. Although limited to access points where an Internet ID can be captured, the resulting dataset provides the most complete picture of library use currently available at any institution. Moving beyond the overall counts, demographic data from OIR allowed the Libraries to aggregate use across categories like college and status.

Armed with data describing library use by first year students, along with the demographic, college environment, and prior academic factors known to influence student success, OIR performed regression analyses to discover relationships among different types of library use and the student success factors of GPA and student retention. Our presentation outlines the observed relationships and details our investigations into how much and what types of library use help new students the most.

Libraries Role Success FYStudents handout.pdf

Friday, February 8, 2013

Value to employers?

I have finally had a bit of time to catch up on some new research from Project Information Literacy (PIL) from fall. They have done a preliminary study on the research skills students bring with them to the workplace and what employers think of those skills.

Certainly beyond academic student success it would be fascinating to explore a connection between library use and workplace success.

Here is a selection of major findings from PIL:

  • Employers placed a high premium on graduates' abilities for searching online, finding information with tools other than search engines, and identifying the best solution from all the information they had gathered.

  • Once they joined the workplace, many college hires demonstrated computer know-how that exceeded both the expectations and abilities of many of their employers. Yet we found these proficiencies also obscured the research techniques needed for solving information problems...

  • Most college hires were prone to deliver the quickest answer they could find using a search engine, entering a few keywords, and scanning the first couple of pages of results...

  • Students said they leveraged essential information competencies from college to help them gain an edge and save time at work when solving workplace information problems. Many of them applied techniques for evaluating the quality of content, close reading of texts, and synthesizing large quantities of content, usually found online.

  • Overall, our findings suggest there is a distinct difference between today's graduates who demonstrated how quickly they found answers online and seasoned employers who needed college hires to use a combination of online and traditional methods to conduct comprehensive research.

Complete report:
"Learning Curve: How College Graduates Solve Information Problems Once They Join the Workplace," Alison J. Head, Project Information Literacy Research Report, October 15, 2012.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Two articles to be published

Hello everyone. I am pleased to announce that two articles concerning the Library Data and Student Success project have been accepted for publication in portal: Libraries and the Academy. Both articles will be published in the April 2013 issue of the journal.

We have also posted the articles in the University of Minnesota institutional repository which means that you can view and read the articles now. Here are some links and abstracts.

Title: Analyzing Demographics: Assessing Library Use Across the Institution

Abstract: In Fall 2011, staff at the University of Minnesota Libraries-Twin Cities undertook a project to measure how often, and in what ways, students used the Libraries' services. Partnering with the University's Office of Institutional Research, the team investigated ways to match library service usage to individual accounts while retaining patron privacy to determine who was - and was not - using the library. With complete data sets, the group was able to determine overall usage rates for undergraduate and graduate students and compare how students in different colleges used library services. This article discusses data gathering techniques, analysis, and initial findings.

Title: Library Use and Undergraduate Student Outcomes: New Evidence for Students' Retention and Academic Success

Abstract: Academic libraries, like other university departments, are being asked to demonstrate their value to the institution. This study discusses the impact library usage has on the retention and academic success of first-time, first year undergraduate students at a large, public research university. Usage statistics were gathered at the University of Minnesota during the Fall 2011 semester for thirteen library access points. Analysis of the data suggests first-time, first-year undergraduate students who use the library have a higher GPA for their first semester and higher retention from fall to spring than non-library users.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions.