What is the first student retention topic you'd like this group to discuss? Post your ideas here!
I posted this at ACRL Insider a few days ago:
Is there interest in discussing how the nature of retention might be changing in higher education, where, for an increasing number of students, there is no longer a straight path from year one to year four and then graduation - they are many potential reasons for dropping out and then dropping back in - and this might be more the norm moving forward.
One thing we're doing at the University of Arizona is trying to establish partnerships with non-disciplinary units on campus and are talking about how do we decide where the library could fit in, what role would we play, and how do we measure success? For example, I have started working with athletics and will be offering instruction sessions during their mandatory study tables to provide extra support. I'd be interested in seeing how others are getting started and where the library is envisioned on campus in these initiatives.
I am also interested in talking more about students' paths to graduation as Steven mentions, and seeing the bigger picture... I had a very vague sense of student swirl but wasn't entirely aware of it, so I found the ACRL Insider post very useful.
At my university, we have a "summer institute" for a small group of incoming freshmen and an First Year Experience program in the fall directed at all freshmen, designed to increase retention. I'm involved with both, and I'm interested in showing the value of libraries to FYE programs in their efforts to increase retention.
That's great Joseph- that is also my experience and focus. We have a mandatory FYE class that I teach one section of, do library instruction for, and liaise with and I'm hoping to use it to track the effect of the library on student success and ultimately retention.
I've recently been hearing quite a bit about "lack of connectedness" to a school/school's community as a reason for students' decision to drop out (see, for example, several posts at The Value of Academic Libraries blog: http://www.acrl.ala.org/value/). Surely, librarians and library programs must be helping students to feel more connected to their campus. I'm thinking about instruction sessions, information literacy classes, embedded or personal librarian programs... even just the fact that the library provides a welcoming space for students to connect with each other. How do we demonstrate this to the administration? measure it? market it? Improve our efforts in this area to reach more students?
The lack of connectedness you mention, Lia, really reminds me of the larger Libraries Building Communities initiative started at Midwinter and being pushed by ALA. What role can libraries play in building a sense of community on campuses? One thing that really resonated with me from David Lankes talk on this at MW is that if we want to serve our communities, we must serve thier passions and dreams, not just their problems.
Since, I'm a Distance Learning Librarian, I am also especially interested in the way libraries can support retention of online students, where disconnectedness can be so inherent.
Heidi-- thanks for the reference! I'll check out Lankes' presentations (available as screencasts on his website-- very handy). Distance Ed poses a whole set of challenges of its own-- good luck! -Lia
I whole-heartedly believe that collaborations with other units from other disciplines and/or non-disciplines is essential for librarians who want a role to play in student success (one of the measures being "student retention"). For two semesters now, another librarian and I have had the privilege of being embedded in a Criminology freshman writing seminar course. The campus reading and writing center, librarians, teaching assistant and criminology professors have pulled together to teach a curriculum that focuses on the essentials to writing a paper. We want to measure whether such a class collaboration contributes in the short-term and longitudinally to student retention in the major by comparing the students who take the class with a control group of criminology students who do not take the class.
If you are interested, I'd be glad to tell you more.
I am excited about this discussion group--Thanks to those who created it!
Since it seems like we are all taking a variety of approaches, how about we begin our first discussion with just talking about how to get started? How can we imagine the library connected to campus retention efforts and what our place could be... we can each have the opportunity then to talk about what we're doing and what our plans are, and maybe even just start touching on how to measure these efforts.
What does everyone think?
This discussion would be followed by a short meeting to talk about future plans for the group.
Also, would anyone be willing to volunteer to take minutes? Perhaps this volunteer could officially be the group's secretary if you'd like a title for longer-term?
I think this is a huge topic. I am at a small regional campus, which is also a commuter campus. Students have very few social spaces to meet and get to know each other, or even connect with faculty and staff outside of their classes, which might help them feel connected. The library should be one of the ideal places for this--*not* just the social aspects of connectedness, but what Lia said above, in "helping students feel more connected to their campus." and especially the part about the "library providing a welcoming space for students" .
We are trying to do that more and more in our library. We've improved many things with the help of a bequest we received. But our entire goal is to make the library welcoming. I am on a campus wide retention committee and we are concentrating on Compass testing and advising. But every chance I get, I talk about the library's role in retention. So far, they're not quite getting it, so I am hoping to get more ideas from this list on how to demonstrate that we *have* a role.
I think this is a great idea for a way to begin the discussions.
I will not be attending Annual, but this is a topic of great interest to me and I hope this online discussion will continue. Here at Syracuse University Library we are making a number of efforts to work across campus in both academic and student affairs arenas. In addition to our more traditional discipline-based liaisons, we have formal relationships between our Learning Commons librarians and several campus offices: embedded librarians in Multicultural Afffairs and the Honors Program, and liaisons with International Services, Disability Services (Academic Affairs) Disability Cultural Center (Student Affairs), Athletics, Tutoring & Study Center, LGBT Cultural Center. We also have strong working relationships with our Residence Life and Learning Communities Colleagues, First Year and Transfer Programs (they've had recent turnover in leadership so we're "re-growing" that relationships), Writing Center, Project Advance (for high school students) and others. These relationships are a primary focus in my job. I also sit on a couple of University-wide committees--an Academic Coordinating Committee that addresses concerns in undergraduate education, and a Summer Advisory Committee that oversees bridge programs and other summer programming.
I am very interested in discussing these types of efforts, sharing successes and ideas, and exploring new options!
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
Syracuse Unniversity Library
Like Lisa, I won't be at ALA but I hope the online discussion continues!
I found it really helpful to get methodical when I started as secretary of our campus retention committee. Rather than floundering about in what I thought libraries did to contribute to student success and retention, I read basic non-librarian literature, including the ACT's 2004 report "The role of academic and non-academic factors in improving college retention." This really helped me speak the adminstrators' language, categorizing and prioritizing various factors. The result was a concise little inventory, stating what we already did and what we could do given time and the institutional will.
We're such a small school that we all wear several hats, and it's really easy to think "but of course we're a community focal point! Everybody comes in here and I go everywhere!" So returning to the basics did us a huge favor - there were angles we hadn't thought of which have a strong effect on retention and angles we valued highly that research shows don't have as much of an effect.
I also read a few great articles in the library literature, but I'll spare you the bibliography!
In short, my pitch for a discussion topic is a quick look back at the basics: what factors make the biggest difference and how can we get behind those?
Thanks for getting things started!
Sarah B. Cornell, Librarian
Veterans Memorial Library
Daniel Webster College
Sarah, it sounds like we're moving on similar paths. I took a higher ed graduate course on student retention in summer 2010 and it really has helped me understand and speak the same language as my counterparts in the university's schools and colleges, and with Student Affairs folks. I'm approaching it from the perspective that the key to retention and persistence is in the relationships students build and connections they make. So I focus on the library being a presence and a participant in the life of the campus.
Syracuse University Library
I am interested in creating crosswalks to Program Rubrics to demonstrate the value of libraries to student retention. Does anyone have any experience in creating crosswalks to Program Rubrics?
LITA offered a very interesting session that I was fortunate to be able to attend on Saturday: "Making Textbooks Affordable: A Successful Initiative at a University Library"
I was impressed by the initiative taken at Cal State libraries to involve everyone from the top/down -- the Provost, the Library, the Bookstore -- in making textbooks and learning materials accessible to students.
Building a sense of community on campus could only be helpful for students. Here in the community college world, many of our students are distance learners, and many of them are also working parents. Is anyone aware of any efforts by campus libraries to support the students who are also working parents? Brown bag lunches, film series, discussion groups, or professional speakers on work/life balance or parenting?
Thanks for sharing your report of the program and the link.
We are now in our second year of our local Alternate Textbook Project - with similar outcomes. To save students money, to encourage faculty to make more use of library and open educational resources, and to improve student learning. Evaluations from the first year did show that students engaged with course content more than when textbooks were used. It makes perfect sense. If the textbook is too costly and students don't buy it or use older editions it's going to have a negative impact on their learning.
There is a similar program to ours being conducted at U Mass Amherst.
So far we can't say if these alternate textbook programs have an impact on retention. I'm sure they help, but it will take more time to tell if there is a more significant impact than students saving money (we're talking many thousands of dollars).
You can find more details at: http://sites.temple.edu/alttextbook
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