ACRL Student Retention Discussion Group1

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Charge: To discuss methods, best practices, and assessment for developing case-by-case and programmatic efforts related to student retention.
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  • 1.  September article discussion!

    Posted Sep 04, 2012 12:07 PM
    Hi everyone!

    I'm Jenny Dale, Coordinator of First-Year Programs at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This month we'll be discussing Heidi Blackburn's 2010 article "Shhh! No talking about retention in the library!" You can find the article here: I know that many of us are getting back into the swing of the academic year, so I tried to choose a shorter article that will still give us plenty to talk about. 
    1. According to Blackburn, library instruction "can go a long way towards student retention through information literacy proficiencies. By giving students the skills to cope with the research demands of higher education, they are more likely to succeed" (p. 24-25). In the age of assessment, accountability, and evidence-based practice, how can libraries prove to administration that we are critical to student retention and persistence?
    2. Blackburn urges librarians to build relationships with students, but also recognizes the challenges we face in doing so. What are the implications of the "one-shot" library session for campus retention efforts? Is it possible to build relationships with students in this kind of setting?
    3. Do you agree with Blackburn's suggestions to "[step] out from behind the desk and into the light" (p. 27)? What are your thoughts on the return on investment of having a library presence at campus events related to recruitment and orientation? Should we be out there at every possible opportunity, or pick and choose with more intentionality?
    4. Blackburn states that "In these days of belt-tightening and budget scrutinizing, not every campus can order new couches or put in an espresso machine but it is the attitude that is crucial, not necessarily the architecture" (p. 28). How can we as librarians project an attitude that keeps students coming back to the library specifically and to our institutions generally?
    5. How is your library involved in campus retention efforts? Did this article give you any ideas for new ways to be involved? 

    I look forward to hearing what everyone has to say on these topics. Please don't feel that you have to respond to all of these questions, I just wanted to put them out there as food for thought.


  • 2.  RE: September article discussion!

    Posted Sep 18, 2012 08:51 AM

    In our Library, we are taking another approach to retention.  We are working with the Department of Institutional Effectiveness to gather statistics from the college database showing the number of academic drops in a selected number of first year courses.  We are going to track the instructional impact of the library on these academic drops.  Do academic drops or grades change?

    The challenge will be to keep the information fresh in the minds of the students and in the minds of the instructors.  By intimately integrating our services into the classroom, we are trying to determine how our support improves the confidence and effectiveness of our non-traditional student population.

    This article says to "getting  them in the library door and get them to stay."  Our approach is to meet the students on their home ground: Google and build from there using World Cat Local which links into our databases.  We can measure increase in use of our LibGuides, databases, and interlibrary loans as initial starting points.  We just look at our users as virtually here.

    Unfortunately, this article is focused on the library as a physical place. Instead, the library has morphed into a virtual service capable of responding to both generalized requests and to unique requests from our students and faculties. This is not a loss on our part.  Think of how our students connect via texting, chatting, and using their mobile phones as traveling computers.  We can now travel with them.  In this last context, we have become more ubiquitous than our historical spaces.

  • 3.  RE: September article discussion!

    Posted Sep 20, 2012 11:52 AM

    One shots are hard to get more than a brief overview of the library and its resources pushed out to the student. Our campus is also using Understanding by Design and Student Centered Instruction as the teaching methodology. Trying to fit all we need to convey and to do it in a SCI manner is the current challenge. We have Libguides in our System as well as ebooks and databases. Our online students have their own librarians who work with them. The campus librarians show our on-site students where everything is and what to look for. More than that we don’t have time for. I engage the students with questions that get them thinking about the need for accurate, controlled resources, and leave them with the message that the Librarians are their Research Go-to resource!—By trying to get every student to ask a question or give an answer helps keep them engaged. I try to look each one in the eyes! At the end I ask “What was the most important thing I said?” I get a variety of answers but the one I am looking for is “If you need help ASK the Librarians!” As I walk the halls I greet as many students as possible, most of them love the recognition and attention. While little of this will increase their Information Literacy skills it will give them the message that the Librarians are on their side and can help. Other things that we can do is Roaming Reference –getting them At Point of Need; Greeting students as they come in and out of the library; work with faculty advocates and continue to inform faculty(new and old) of what we can do for them and their students.