As academic librarians, we have a duty to serve all students, regardless of geographic location and communication preference. The future of higher education is blurring the line between course delivery format, and student demographics demonstrate that adult learners are a dominant percentage of all college students. This changing climate requires us to rethink how we engage and connect with our students.
One of the ways libraries often try to accomplish this connection is through online orientation modules. These tutorials have tangible benefits when it comes to scale. However, the limitations are also plentiful. Adult learners constitute 44 percent of undergraduate enrollments, and instructional design research specifies that andragogy dictates a learning approach that focuses on problems and incorporating prior knowledge. In addition, the level of student engagement and knowledge gained through automated tutorials is extremely difficult to accurately discern. Our program, The Library Connection, shifts the approach to offering a library orientation for online students. The Library Connection is an active online orientation that retools how students complete library orientations. It is offered to online students at Penn State University. The Library Connection views students' prior knowledge as an asset and builds on those experiences to meaningfully connect students to their academic library. This orientation has a meaningful connection to the curriculum through direct course integration. Our program will cover the goals, our research methodology, and the findings gathered from the study.
Using microcredentialing (digital badges), librarians created an orientation that introduces students to essential library skills, and it's sparking a new level of engagement for the students who have participated. With a commitment to creating a personalized connection to the library and lowering new-student library anxiety, this program was deployed in all sections of the required first year rhetoric and composition course. With ethical compliance in hand we set out to test our hypothesis: students who participate in The Library Connection will have positive emotions when they discover library services. Secondary to this, we also sought to inform our services for online students by bringing their voice to the table in the form of textual responses.
After consultation with a digital humanist, we were convinced that we could effectively analyze the Library Connection experience using textual analysis, a unique approach to handling open-ended responses. Armed with textual analysis software, we assessed student responses to Library Connection prompts in order to ascertain its impact. This software, AntConc, provided us with a level of organization to the data not possible through manual analysis and gave us new insights and connections across library services.
People who should intended this session include librarians who have a teaching portfolio that includes distance or online students. People interesting in learning more about establishing connected learning outcomes and assessments will also find the session valuable. Session attendees will come away with ideas about how they can re-energize their online orientations in order to meaningfully engage their students and library users. They will gain new insights into methods for dealing with large amounts of qualitative data. Finally, we will report on meaningful service changes the library has made in direct response to student feedback via The Library Connection. This will emphasize the importance of acting on evidence to build a library that responds to current student needs.
Victoria Raish – Online Learning Librarian, Penn State University
Anne Behler – Instruction Coordinator, The Pennsylvania State University
ALA Unit/Subunit: ACRL
Meeting Type: Program
Cost: Included with full conference registration.