Discovering the Needs of Undergraduate Students: An Assessment Survey Bridget Schumacher and Ligaya Ganster University Libraries, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, New York, 14260 About the Poster Session Results Conclusion Methods (cont’d) This poster session demonstrates:
How to discover trends in undergraduate concerns about library services and resources
This survey event was a starting point for learning about the needs of the undergraduate population. It has proven to serve as a way to engage students in the conversation about library services and collections. Feedback that was provided from the survey was useful and the USCT would like to continue future surveys, including more focused conversations with students. Some ideas for next steps include:
Organize focus groups to engage students in conversations about the libraries
Conduct one-on-one interviews with students so that questions can be answered in further detail
Create an electronic survey to be filled out at a table with laptops
Use campus information distribution system to promote survey
As an incentive, a candy assortment was placed in a dish on the table in addition to pencils branded with the University Libraries' logo. (The candy was donated by faculty and staff within the libraries after solicitation via a libraries-wide listserv.) Students stopped by the table, picked up a survey, and upon completion returned it to an enclosed box located at the staffed table. 220 surveys were completed during the event. All of the surveys completed were in-person; no surveys were completed electronically. To analyze the data, Survey Gizmo™ software was used. Graduate student assistants took each print survey and manually input the quantitative data into the system. Qualitative questions were analyzed by librarians. Data collected in this survey proved to be a powerful beginning stage for learning about the needs of undergraduate students in regards to library services and collections. The survey data analyzed proved to be useful for the following: Information Literacy A common trend included students lack of knowledge about access to particular databases. For example, students did not realize that the Libraries’ subscribed to newspapers electronically via databases, nor did they know that they had access to the full-text JSTOR database. Collections Themes in students requests for particular materials by topic allowed us to see a lack of coverage. A common request for popular materials was also a trend; items included: new media, current fiction, fashion magazines, ebooks, and books on tape. Reference Services A common theme was a lack of understanding about the difference between reference/information and circulation desks. There was also a vague understanding of the services offered by the libraries. Students felt that they should be self-sufficient and by approaching a librarian they were being an inconvenience. Comments about staff being approachable at service desks was also noted. Physical Spaces With more students going mobile, the survey presented a large need of additional electric outlets and stronger wireless coverage. Use of Web Tools for Research YouTube™ and Facebook™ were the top two choice listed by students for research; however, there are concerns over whether or not students properly read the “for research” portion of the question. Some ways that YouTube ™ was noted for being used was as a tool for language pronunciation and to learn general information about a topic. Methods After being formed in November 2008, the Undergraduate Services and Collections Team (USCT) wanted to find a way to understand the library needs of the undergraduate student population. With limited resources and funding, the five member team decided to conduct a two week survey during the 2009-2010 academic school year. Team members collaboratively planned the event using wiki software. The survey was to be short, taking no more than five minutes and including both qualitative and quantitative questions. Questions focused on: collections, information literacy, physical space, reference services, and the use of Web tools for research. Print and electronic versions of the survey were created. The electronic version was created by the University Libraries' webmaster and hosted on the Libraries' web site. USCT marketed the survey in the following means: word of mouth, announcements in library instruction classes, posts on library blogs (Library News and Student Support), announcements on social media sites (Facebook™ and Twitter™).Survey data was collected during the last two weeks of classes during the Fall 2009 semester. A table was set up at the entrance of the Undergraduate Library during the first week of the survey period and staffed by either a librarian or graduate student assistant. The table was staffed from 10am-2pm, Monday through Friday. Websites Referenced Incentives Survey Gizmo™, http://www.surveygizmo.com/ Facebook™, http://www.facebook.com/ublibraries Twitter™, http://twitter.com/ublibraries Library News, http://libweb1.lib.buffalo.edu/blog/ Student Support, http://libweb1.lib.buffalo.edu/blog/students/ Upon analyzing the data, one of the most important factors learned was how eager and willing students are to provide feedback. Comments made directly to librarians and indirectly via the comment section of the survey itself revealed that students were thankful for the opportunity to share their thoughts, ideas, and feelings. Many surveys offer large incentives such as electronic giveaways, restaurant or coffee shop gift cards, etc. By setting up a table with a dish of candy, students willingly participated in offering feedback. Not only were surveys completed, but conversations ensued, questions were asked, and the libraries became a more welcoming environment.