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Some Observations on Qualitative Research (in Libraries)


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Presentation to LIS 608, Human Information Behavior, Pratt SILS, about qualitative research in libraries and the Undergraduate Scholarly Habits Ethnography Project.

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Some Observations on Qualitative Research (in Libraries)

  1. 1. maura a. smale nyc college of technology some observations on qualitative research (in libraries) mariana regalado brooklyn college 11/10/2011 &
  2. 2. how did we get here? <ul><li>we have graduate training in anthropology </li></ul><ul><li>which means we have done a lot of our own research (and some of it has even been in the library!) </li></ul><ul><li>we are academic reference and instruction librarians </li></ul><ul><li>which means we spend a lot of time helping students learn how to be more efficient, more persistent, and more curious researchers </li></ul>
  3. 3. we wanted to know how do undergraduates study and do their research? how do they make sense of their experience?
  4. 4. research methods <ul><li>quantitative </li></ul><ul><li>qualitative </li></ul><ul><li>assumption: variables can be identified and relationships measured.  </li></ul><ul><li>methods: </li></ul><ul><li>seeks the norm </li></ul><ul><li>attempts to be objective </li></ul><ul><li>collection and analysis of numerical data to identify statistical relations of variables </li></ul><ul><li>assumption: variables are complex, difficult to measure. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>methods: </li></ul><ul><li>searches for patterns </li></ul><ul><li>relies on involvement and empathic understanding </li></ul><ul><li>data from observation, interviews, etc. with a focus on the interpretations of participants </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>help us understand what participants do </li></ul><ul><li>begin with specific questions that define participant answers </li></ul><ul><li>numerical data are analyzed to show statistical relations of variables </li></ul><ul><li>an efficient means of collecting large amounts of relatively superficial data </li></ul><ul><li>help us understand participants experience of what they do </li></ul><ul><li>begin with general questions, participant answers drive results </li></ul><ul><li>narrative data are analyzed and coded in a search for patterns and concepts </li></ul><ul><li>a time consuming means of collecting relatively small amounts of in-depth data </li></ul><ul><li>quantitative </li></ul><ul><li>qualitative </li></ul>
  6. 6. methods complement <ul><li>student : so it's all that travelling I have to go through just to get to class. . . I didn't know it was that much </li></ul><ul><li>interviewer : what do you do on the bus? </li></ul><ul><li>student : I do a little study; listen to my ipod. . .I’m a music major. . .I have so much music to listen to, it keeps me occupied </li></ul>
  7. 7. in other words <ul><li>“ everything that can be counted </li></ul><ul><li>does not necessarily count </li></ul><ul><li>everything that counts </li></ul><ul><li>cannot necessarily be counted” </li></ul><ul><li>-Albert Einstein </li></ul>
  8. 8. ethnography <ul><li>the study of human beliefs, values, rituals in its natural setting -- the “culture” </li></ul><ul><li>data collected by observation and interviews </li></ul>
  9. 9. ethical concerns <ul><li>protecting participants from harm is paramount in all human subjects research </li></ul><ul><li>in ethnography (and related social studies), investigators must ensure against </li></ul><ul><ul><li>coercion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>unwanted intrusion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>breach of confidentiality </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. institutional review board (irb) <ul><li>oversight is provided by the local institutional review board (irb). </li></ul><ul><li>regulations based on the common rule from the office for human research protections </li></ul><ul><li>the ohrp was established in response to public outcry over unethical research practices (some of it conducted by the u.s. government!). </li></ul><ul><li>oversight is provided by the local institutional review board (irb). </li></ul><ul><li>regulations based on—the common rule—from the office for human research protections </li></ul><ul><li>the ohrp was established in response to public outcry over unethical research practices (some of it conducted by the US government!). </li></ul>
  11. 11. the common rule requires <ul><li>compliance by research institutions </li></ul><ul><li>researchers to obtain and document informed consent </li></ul><ul><li>additional protections for certain vulnerable populations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>pregnant women, in vitro fertilization, and fetuses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>prisoners </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>children </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. irb categories <ul><li>exempt studies usually involve research on normal educational practice, i.e. in the classroom </li></ul><ul><li>expedited studies usually involve minimal risk to participants—most social science falls into this category </li></ul><ul><li>full review studies usually involve serious potential risks to participants—many medical studies fall into this category </li></ul>
  13. 13. undergraduate study habits ethnography project @ cuny <ul><li>getting started </li></ul>
  14. 14. other models & inspiration <ul><ul><li>university of rochester </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>project information literacy (pil) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>erial (five illinois libraries) </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. research sites <ul><li>borough of manhattan community college, 2-year degrees </li></ul><ul><li>hunter college, 4-year degrees </li></ul><ul><li>nyc college of technology, 2- and 4-year degrees </li></ul><ul><li>bronx community college, 2-year degrees </li></ul><ul><li>brooklyn college, 4-year degrees </li></ul><ul><li>city college, 4-year degrees </li></ul>
  16. 16. institutional context <ul><li>17% asian </li></ul><ul><li>27% black </li></ul><ul><li>29% hispanic </li></ul><ul><li>26% white </li></ul><ul><li>228,484 undergraduates at cuny in fall 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>43% born outside the u.s. </li></ul><ul><li>mean age = 24 </li></ul><ul><li>28% over age 25 </li></ul><ul><li>44% 1st generation in college </li></ul><ul><li>38% household income < $20,000 </li></ul><ul><li>31% work for pay > 20 hrs/wk </li></ul><ul><li>14% support children </li></ul>CUNY OIRA. (2010).  A Profile of Undergraduates at CUNY Senior and Community Colleges: Fall 2010 .
  17. 17. guiding questions <ul><li>what are faculty expectations for student scholarly work and assignments? </li></ul><ul><li>how do students study, research, and complete their assignments? </li></ul><ul><li>how do students use the library for their coursework (and, if they don’t, why not)? </li></ul>
  18. 18. research methods <ul><li>faculty </li></ul><ul><li>interviews </li></ul><ul><li>students </li></ul><ul><li>mapping diaries </li></ul><ul><li>photo surveys </li></ul><ul><li>research interviews </li></ul><ul><li>study habits survey </li></ul>
  19. 19. research preliminaries <ul><li>irb approval </li></ul><ul><li>funding </li></ul><ul><li>incentives </li></ul><ul><li>recruitment </li></ul>
  20. 20. undergraduate study habits ethnography project @ cuny <ul><li>preliminary results </li></ul>
  21. 21. faculty interviews <ul><ul><li>“ we need to instigate parts of [learning to do research and writing] earlier on” in the curriculum </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ there isn’t time for hand-holding with the teaching load” </li></ul></ul>obstacles to good student work on research-based assignments
  22. 22. faculty interviews <ul><ul><li>“ the central weakness […] is the inability to think and to analyze clearly” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ oh so many [ . . . I] would really expect complete sentences” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the inability to “identify a topic area and then realize that, well, maybe there’s no literature in that topic area” </li></ul></ul>perceived student weaknesses
  23. 23. faculty interviews <ul><ul><li>“ I am firmly convinced that all of this has to be practicum based—the kids are much, much, much, much more interested when they find out there’s a use for what they know” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I’m overt about the actual steps to research and writing the paper” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I like them to do the papers in stages” </li></ul></ul>be st practices for teaching research & writing
  24. 24. faculty interviews <ul><ul><li>[I tell them] “if you need a friend, try a reference librarian because they will be there for you” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ we send students over with half-formed, half-baked, half-conceived notions of what we want from them” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ they don’t use the library—it’s rare that they’ll go see a librarian.. . they’ll come see me first and I’ll show them the library website” </li></ul></ul>where librarians fit in (or don’t)
  25. 25. mapping diaries
  26. 26. mapping diaries
  27. 27. mapping diaries
  28. 28. mapping diaries <ul><li>most frustrating part of the day </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ having lunch, because I had to have lunch in the train station” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>parts of the day to look forward to </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I guess going home” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ the gym” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>a walk to target </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ if I need a little burst of inspiration” </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. mapping diaries <ul><li>most frustrating part of the day </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ the time I have breaks in between. . .because I'm usually like rushing and eating at the same time to get to my next class ” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>best part of the day </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ the time in between ‘cause it's just a nice window where I can lay down, relax for a while, go get some food, and then start the second half of my day. . . so it's a nice little break period, which I like” </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. photo surveys <ul><li>all the stuff you take to class </li></ul><ul><li>something you would call high-tech </li></ul><ul><li>one picture of the library to show to a new student </li></ul><ul><li>your favorite place to study </li></ul><ul><li>a place at school you hang out </li></ul><ul><li>a place at school where you study </li></ul><ul><li>your communication devices </li></ul><ul><li>how you manage your time or keep track of your work </li></ul><ul><li>a place at home you study </li></ul><ul><li>your favorite part of the day </li></ul><ul><li>the tools you use for writing assignments </li></ul><ul><li>something you can’t live without </li></ul><ul><li>the night before a big assignment is due </li></ul>some locations students were asked to photograph
  31. 31. photo surveys <ul><li>the things you always carry with you </li></ul>
  32. 32. photo surveys <ul><li>the place you keep your books </li></ul>
  33. 33. photo surveys <ul><li>a place in the library you don’t like </li></ul>
  34. 34. photo surveys <ul><li>a place at school where you study </li></ul>
  35. 35. photo surveys <ul><li>a place at home where you study </li></ul>
  36. 36. retrospective research process
  37. 37. retrospective research process
  38. 38. retrospective research process
  39. 39. retrospective research process
  40. 40. data analysis
  41. 41. application <ul><li>how can what we learn </li></ul><ul><li>(about how undergraduates study and do research) </li></ul><ul><li>(about what that experience is like for them) </li></ul><ul><li>(about faculty expectations for student research) </li></ul><ul><li>help us to improve our </li></ul><ul><li>library outreach & services </li></ul><ul><li>and </li></ul><ul><li>the student (research) experience? </li></ul>
  42. 42. dissemination <ul><li>acrl/ny annual symposium 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>acrl national conference 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>mobilityshifts: an international future of learning summit 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>american anthropological association 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>publication: articles, books and beyond! </li></ul>
  43. 43. thank you! maura a. smale [email_address] mariana regalado [email_address] 11/10/2011 &