Are Students Succeeding with a Library Credit Course? C-EBLIP Journal Club, October 6, 2014

by Rachel Sarjeant-Jenkins
Client Services, University Library, University of Saskatchewan

I recently had the opportunity to lead our C-EBLIP Journal Club in a discussion of Jean Marie Cook’s article “A library credit course and student success rates: A longitudinal study” in College & Research Libraries 75, no. 3 (2014) (available at http://crl.acrl.org/content/75/3/272.full.pdf+html). This article had been sitting on my desk for a few months waiting for that magical moment when I found the time to read it thoroughly. Then came my turn to host journal club. What a perfect opportunity to finally delve into Cook’s article! And it couldn`t have come at a better time in light of our library’s focus on developing a programmatic approach to library instruction and the broader teaching and learning environment in which academic libraries currently find themselves.

Following some ‘proper’ journal club discussion about the article’s methodology and findings, Cook’s article proved a wonderful catalyst for a conversation about library instruction at our institution. Initially we were simply envious of Cook’s situation, where a library-focused course is one of the areas within her institution’s priorities. But then the questions started.

• Is there value in having a stand-alone library course or is it better to have instruction firmly embedded or integrated into academic program courses? (Of course, this question did not mean we ever stopped desiring that institutional commitment to information literacy — who would!?)
• How do you assess student learning? And, more importantly, how do you gauge the actual ongoing use of that learning by students?

We also talked about library value. The impetus for Cook’s work was institutional interest in ROI; the result was her quantitative research project.
• How, we asked, can qualitative data be used to support (and enhance) quantitative data when demonstrating library value to the parent institution?
So many questions, and only a lunchtime to discuss.

Not surprisingly, our hour just wasn’t enough. What that hour did do, however, was get us thinking. We talked about the known information literacy courses on campus and learned about pockets of embedded instruction by our librarians that we were completely unaware of. We had a lively debate about quantitative and qualitative research and the benefits of each. And of course we talked about assessment, not only that we need to do more of it and do it more consistently, but also the importance of knowing what we are trying to assess and therefore when we want to assess it.

Our journal club hour got me excited and primed for the next steps in developing our library’s programmatic approach to instruction. Cook’s article, and the energetic conversation it inspired, was an excellent beginning.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *