The project officer proposed that we use a Duke of Edinburgh style of rewards, rather than a paycheck to motivate the students to stick to the role. This is where we pulled in coporate sponsorship: There would be three levels of achievement, and what needed to be done to reach each goal to be agreed between the students and their supervisors (us). The rewards were to be provided by the sponsor, JLR, with factory tour and kit for bronze and silver, and a track day for gold. Activities for each level agreed upon by students and supervisor
We still had the academic on board and we still had the JLR sponsorship although in addition we added the Nottingham advantage award as a further incentive. Four students “employed” across range of science and engineering students
Now cover how the collaboration worked, so will start with how the collaboration between the students themselves worked, what we gained from collaborating with the students, how collaboration with the academic member of staff helped and also discuss the pros and cons of the industry collaborationIn terms of the students working together on projects as a team, the feedback we got showed that they found this really useful, particularly in terms of developing transferable and employability skills. You can see from the quotes that they developed personal skills in team working and leadership and planning and organisation but also developed skills in specific business areas such as marketing. These were the kinds of skills that they said they weren’t necessarily developing as part of their academic work, so they saw the real value in what they were doing. It gave them the opportunity to work with students from different disciplines and a greater understanding of what is important to those disciplines.
The collaboration between ourselves in the library and with the students was particularly postivie.Some of the key outcomes from the collaboration between the 2 were:Broke down barriers between the library and the students. Working together with them, I think helped them to see what we were trying to do to support students and some of the issues and challenges that we faced. The hope is that they can filter that down to some of their peers so there is a better understanding of why things may be as they are and some of the ways to make more effective use of library facilities, for example, one of the things we concentrated on was explaining about ebook purchasing so they could understand why we couldn’t just get the ebooks they wanted, and how to make effective use of the reservation system. For example, they didn’t realise that by reserving books, the library then gets automatic notification so that we can manage the book stock better and respond to demand. We also got a much better handle on what the students’ issues were or what their main priorities/challenges were. Although we know this to a certain extent, we can sometimes make assumptions or not understand the full picture.One of the training sessions that we did which the students found the most useful was looking at advanced searching skills, so moving away from just doing a Google type search. In some cases, the students haven’t gained this sort of training, either because the school or dept hasn’t asked us to provide it or that they didn’t think it was important at the time. You can see the quote from one of the students about disseminating the importance of search skills and databases to their fellow students.Generally they were able to promote resources better and helped us to disseminate surveys. However, still debatable as to how far their outreach got and I don’t think we gained as much concrete outcomes as we perhaps would have liked.What may have been more useful, though, was the insight that it gave into student perception of the library, and where some of the biggest gaps in their understanding were: allowed us to rethink inductions, and what might be most useful to emphasize in those.
We had an interested academic staff on board throughout the 3 years of the project. This was really useful particularly in the early days of the scheme to get the ideas and input from the academic member of staff who had been involved in peer to peer support schemes within the department generally so had some experience to bring to the table and it fed into the faculty peer to peer support agendy.I think it was also really important to provide some academic integrity to the scheme, so that it wasn’t just seen as a library thing, and having the academic involved in the selection and also involved in initial meetings was really good for the students. The academic was useful also in highlighting to us dept events that we were unaware of that the students could contribute to.He was also helpful in some really practical ways! One of the issues we had was that we had no budget assigned to the scheme and this meant that when the students wanted to produce t-shirts or have the giant jenga game at a stall we had nothing to pay for this. Luckily, the academic had a pot of money that he was able to use to help us out.Also, the academic was particularly helpful with liaising with the industry sponsor. After the 1st year, the individual involved in this changed and we went back to basics in building up that relationship and it was quite time-consuming. Because the academic had contacts with JLR through the dept, he was able to help with this aspect.From the library’s point of view, I think the collaboration worked well in just raising the profile of the library with the faculty and worked as a general liaison activity.We were also able to contribute to a presentation that the academic did at an engineering education conference and he also collaborated with the students on a poster on the scheme that was submitted to a conference and subsequently upgraded to a paper. He was really supportive in helping the students with the paper and co-presenting it and for them to get a flavour of the academic conference world.
Collaboration with industry is one of the areas where we are wondering if the effort involved is worth the outcome.Certainly when we first set up the scheme, the industry involvement was an incentive. This quote came from one of our 1st ambassadors who saw the employability positives from the JLR sponsorship and I think it did then give both academic and employability integrity to the scheme. I think the freebies were liked by the students but not seen as essential, although they were interested in gaining the track day.From the university’s point of view, I think it showcased the students to a big employer and helped to raise the profile of the university.It did add an additional workload though, particularly when the personnel changed and we had to start building the relationship up again and I think the industry commitment may vary depending on the individual person involved. Since adding the advantage award as an incentive, we feel that this may be a better incentive for students so we are still thinking about whether the industry element is essential. Also, if we were to open the scheme up to other subject areas, would JLR be relevant to all? It was chosen initially as being of interest to science, engineering and technology students, but maybe wouldn’t be such a pull to students in some other disciplines.What we haven’t done, and perhaps what we should do is to contact JLR to see what they thought they got out of being a sponsor of the scheme, to gage their continued interest.
So to sum up then, does a collaborative approach work to this type of scheme.I think that working with the students has been mutually beneficial to both us in the library and to the students themselves, so the concept of the scheme itself seems robust. Certainly, the collaboration between the students and working with their peers has been successful and has allowed the ambassadors to gain transferable and employability schemes.If we were to do this again, I think we would definitely say that the academic input was also important, not only does it give the scheme that academic integrity, but we were able to share ideas with the academic member of staff and make sure that it also met the faculty agenda. Having said that, this collaboration may vary as to the interest or commitment of the academic member of staff. Because we were able to get on board someone who is particularly interested in peer to peer support, the working relationship was very positive.We do think that the industry input is important in adding an employability benefit, but we are not sure that we have quite got this right and we don’t know whether there is enough incentive either from us or from industry to really make this work well and to justify the time put into it. In some ways, it might just be an extra thing to complicate matters and how easy would it be to find an industry to represent different subject areas.. We are still mulling this one over.And I guess overall, the jury is still out over whether the way we have managed the scheme so far has justified the outcome. We have had some really great experiences, worked with some fantastic students and made some important gains, but overall, we are not sure whether the level of outreach so far justifies the management time.
A quadruple collaboration: students, librarians, academics and industry developing a peer to peer support initiative - Jenny Coombs & Carol Hollier
A quadruple collaboration: students,
librarians, academics and industry
developing a peer to peer support
University of Nottingham
De Montfort University
Working together teamwork puzzle. Used under a reusable
licence and and attributable to thegoldguys.blogspot.com
Background and aims
• Invited to join a collaborative project with
• STEM funding
• Encourage more use of the library by students in
STEM subject areas
• Sustainable student ambassador scheme
“It has also helped me to
appreciate different points
of view and the necessity
to adapt and adjust to
other people’s learning
and working styles”
the box to get a
Planning and organisation
“Allowed me to appreciate the
role of taking initiative for
personal growth and
“The ability to put the
idea through is vital for
any position as it requires
high levels of
and initiative to enthuse
other people of one’s
Collaboration with students
• Broke down barriers
• Better understanding of:
– For librarians
• students’ issues
• students’ experience of our libraries
– For students:
• challenges faced by library
• knowledge of advanced searching skills
• Promotion of resources
“...so I hope that I will be
able to do the same with
fellow students in using the
different resources and not
just Google everything they
Collaboration with industry
• Provided incentive
• Employability integrity
• Showcased students to a
• Additional workload
• Relevance to subject area?
“To my knowledge this
scheme is sponsored
by Jaguar Landrover,
as a mechanical
engineer this would be
a good opportunity to
get to know the
company a bit better.”
Does a collaborative approach work?
• Working with the students has been mutually
• Students gained from working alongside peers
• Importance of academic integrity of the scheme
• Industry input can add employability benefit
– Time to manage vs incentive?
• Does the time justify the outcome?
• Coombs, J., Hollier, C. (2014) Developing a peer to peer library
support scheme. ALISS Quarterly 9 (2), 9-11.
• Coombs, J., Hollier, C. (2013) Developing a peer to peer library
support scheme. Libraries and student engagement: a marriage
made in heaven, Birmingham City University, December 2013.
• Clifford, M., Gadd, E., Coombs, J., Hollier, C., Franklin, G. et. al.
(2012) Engaging the disengaged indefinitely, and with no budget:
creating a sustainable model for student library ambassadors. 4th
International Symposium for Engineering Education, 2012, The
University of Sheffield, July 2012. Available at:
• Jenny Coombs: Jenny.Coombs@dmu.ac.uk
• Carol Hollier: Carol.Hollier@nottingham.ac.uk