This summer, while many of us were enjoying those lazy days in Athens, three OHIO librarians: Hilary Bussell, Chris Guder, and Jessica Hagman were busy researching and then presenting for a poster session on teaching and learning for the 2014 Library Assessment Conference, which according to its co-chairs, was “the largest conference of its kind in the world.”
Academic libraries around the world are now studying the link between how students use the libraries and scholarly success. One good way to gather that information is through focus groups, interviews and surveys that provide data for making informed decisions concerning the provision of new services or the acquisition of new collections.
Bussell, Guder and Hagman did just that when they were awarded “Best” of show during the poster session for their research, “In the Mix: A Student-Centered Approach to Needs Assessment Survey Development,” a mixed-methods approach to address the challenges that graduate students face as independent researchers.
“The goal of the project was to conduct a cross-disciplinary study of graduate students,” wrote Bussell, Guder and Hagman, “…to understand which research skills they need to develop and how the library and other campus units can aid them in this.”
To learn how the results of the qualitative data were distributed, the team developed a survey instrument using “in-person focus groups as well as [conducting] online interviews using Adobe Connect,” which identified some surprising challenges in the responses elicited from graduate students.
“We found students want programming and services from the Libraries that helps them make the transition from student to academic/professional,” said Bussell. Some examples cited include programs that offer skills in networking, grant funding and scholarly publication.
The next steps for Bussell, Guder and Hagman are to analyze the data, and then to collaborate with other units on campus to develop workshops to address those needs; to offer online instructional videos for distance learners; and to use email as an outreach tool.
Knowing the answers to some of the questions raised will give Ohio University librarians the confidence to develop user-centered services for the future generations of OHIO students to succeed.
Congratulations on a job well done.