Author: Michelle Breen / @mbreen2
The ANLTC (Academic & National Libraries Training Cooperative) held an event on Library Impact and Assessment in Trinity College Dublin on May 7th 2013. The assembled library staff from DIT, the Irish universities, the Universities of Huddersfield and Leicester discussed the impact analysis work underway at their institutions. With attrition rates of 8% in the Universities and 22% in the Institutes of Technology (IoTs) there is a lot to be concerned about. Here is a summary of the day.
Carmel O’Sullivan (UCD) introduced the day by reminding us how high up the higher education national agenda the topics of assessment and measurement are. The first speaker, Mary Antonesa from NUIM, reported on the 2012 CONUL ACIL survey. Mary reported that students indicated a preference for library workshops, advice and lectures, in that order. The survey found that the more explicit a library is about learning outcome the more successful the IL intervention is likely to be. The results also indicated that faculty view the Library as having a positive impact on grades. The final report of this survey was sent to CONUL and the questions used in the survey are available in the report.
Lorna Dodd from UCD reported on the findings of a survey delivered to 1,900 module coordinators in UCD in 2012. With reorganization and staff attrition UCD has 6 college librarians where they once had 15-17 liaison librarians. These librarians still serve the same user population but could not continue to do IL the way they always did. Among the changes put in place for IL delivery was a shift from a module to a programme approach, library staff no longer involved in tours, provided active learning tailored to specific subject needs; including online offerings.
Ciara McCaffrey (UL) reported on the experience of Irish libraries that ran LibQual, the ARL student satisfaction survey. The libraries interviewed reported LibQual’s greatest selling point as its ability to generate data that allows libraries to compare themselves with others, and yourself, over time. The results achieved by Irish libraries in LibQual indicate that our library buildings are coming up short in terms of ‘customer’ expectations of them. Not surprisingly for many CONUL members, noise also continues to be a concern for library users. There is a lot of data in LibQual that we are not utilizing fully at present; there is scope there to do more with the data. Ciara called for another CONUL notebook so that we get a measure of how Irish libraries are doing now.
Graham Stone from the University of Huddersfield gave a very detailed presentation about the JISC funded Library Impact Data Project. University libraries in Wollongong and Minnesota are getting similar results to Graham’s so there is some support internationally for the theory that “there is a statistically significant correlation across a number of universities between library activity data and student attainment”
There were many revealing insights turned up by this very extensive data gathering process from 2,000 students in the UK including:
· Students are more likely to drop out of their course if they had not borrowed or used library e-resources
· Students that use VLE middle of night are at risk (Manchester Metropolitan Univ)
·The same correlation could not be made about students using the library in the middle of the night
· Business students do not use as many books as we thought they did although they ask for more books – maybe their expectations of the library are very low?
· Chinese students use fewer e-resources, generally, than other nationalities, is this because of a tendency to do group work, share a resource?
· Computer Systems students not using library resources but still getting their degrees, should they be participating in ‘good academic practice’ and reading appropriate material? Their lecturers are compiling relevant reading lists.
The latest project that Graham is involved with is called LAMP and this will attempt to create a dashboard where data collected centrally can be used to flag a problem or pattern in student behaviour or engagement with services, initially at University of Manchester & Huddersfield.
Jonathan Drennan from UCD reported on the design and implementation of the first Irish National Student Survey. The Irish survey emulated the AUSSE (Australian Survey of Student Engagement); a 120 question survey that measure the extent to which students are engaged in good educational practices. Results of the survey will be available to institutions in September. Jonathan referenced a book called Ivory Tower Blues by James E Cote. According to Jonathan, there are interesting parallels between the Irish and Canadian education systems particularly as it relates to the transition from secondary level to third level education.
Jo Aitkins from the University of Leicester described how the simple interventions made in her library can be replicated elsewhere to improve services for students:
· Allow feedback on the chat function
· Distribute Happy Cards periodically
· Get Student’s Union to run a survey for you
Jo offered a very practical tip to anyone planning to run a survey; before running a survey tell them what you’ve done out of last survey, in a ‘You said, we did’ style of communication.
Peter Corrigan from NUIG described ways he believes we can run the LibQual survey more efficiently. NUIG runs LibQual every year and Peter believes this helps them to mature the process and therefore do it faster each time. In his assessment of tools for analysing the qualitative data from LibQual (the comments) Peter looked at 3 tools:
· Max QDA
· ATLAS ti
None of these tools have advanced text analysis like Google offers but of the three; NVIVO is currently the most flexible option.
If awareness raising was the goal of this ANLTC event this was certainly achieved. I felt that we were left with as many questions as we got answers. The speakers described the many connections that exist between libraries and student success but it was made clear at the outset that while there is a correlation between library activities and student success, causation can’t always be inferred.
The results of the first Irish National Student Survey will be an interesting set of data to look at when thinking about library usage as it relates to student attainment. Data collected from UCD students last year suggests we should give strong consideration to continuing tours of the library. Lorna (UCD) reported that while students may request tours they may be doing this in a ‘box-ticking’ way rather than with any real purpose. The UCD survey found that tours featured behind workshops as students preferred means of getting library instruction. Our colleagues at Leicester and Huddersfield also reported the demise of tours in their libraries.
The attendance and level of interest among yesterday’s attendees highlights that within the assessment community there is an appetite for collaboration in this area. Using the knowledge and experience of the CONUL Task & Finish Group on Metrics and perhaps looking outside the traditional library skill set might be a next step for a collaborative effort to advance the excellent analytics work already underway.