March 8th, 2013

Student Success in First Courses Related to Contacting Librarians

Executive summary
Capella University’s online, digital library is one of the most valuable resources you can use to support your academic success. Recently, a study was done to demonstrate student success rates in relation to using the library.

Scope and Initial Queries
In 2012, Capella collected data to measure student success related to use of our digital academic library. The analytics focused on:

  • Student success in first courses related to contacting librarians
  • Student success in first course with embedded learning media models:

- Generic LibGuides
- Skills Site
- Custom LibGuides

Student success in first course related to contacting librarians

This project looked at PhD learners in first courses, as well as learner success in general, in relation to contact with the library via Ask-A-Librarian.

Initial query:

1. We looked at first course persistence (ever-to-census, re-registration in term plus one, and successful completion) from January 1, 2011 to July 30, 2012. Given only 2% of this population had graduated by August 30th 2012, we did not look at the effect of library contacts on PhD graduation.

Conclusion: The results show that learners who contact the Capella librarians for additional instruction do better in first courses, showing a strong association between persistence and library contact .* (Due to low numbers, PhD data is not available). Learners who contacted the library outperformed non-contact learners in terms of persistence to census day, re-registration in term plus one, and successful completion of their first courses.

  • 71% percent of those who contacted the library successfully completed their first courses, while 46% of those who did not contact the library successfully completed their first courses.
  • The odds ratios showed that those making it to census day were 2.3 times higher in the population that contacted the library than in the population that did not contact the library.
  • The odds ratios are even higher (3.12 times) when controlling for degree type. 93% of contact learners made it to census day while 82% of non-contact learners made it to census day.
  • Odds of re-registering in term plus one were 1.6 times higher in the contact population when accounting for degree level. 64% of those who contacted the library re-registered in term plus one; while 49% of those who did not contact the library re-registered.

*More research is needed to determine exact causation.

Student success in first year courses with embedded learning media models

This was a continuation of a 2007 study that demonstrated an increase in persistence from course-embedded library instruction among bachelor’s-level learners in first courses. One of the top embedded librarian researchers visited Capella in 2010 to study our model; however, due to staff levels, we could not continue the presence of a “live” librarian in first courses after 2010. With this new study, we wanted to look at learner persistence in first courses with different media-driven library components integrated into the course at different intervals.

Initial query:

1. We looked at learner persistence in first courses with different library components integrated into the course at different intervals from January 2011 to December 2011.

Conclusion: At this time, we could not conclude that there was a persistence improvement in the courses including library instruction media versus those that didn’t.*

We did find a moderately statistically significant difference in average persistence in successful course completion. Additionally, Library Research & Information Literacy Handbook (our dynamic full assessments-driven research skills site) seemed to perform better than the generic or custom Library Guides, which are delivered through our LibGuides software. The new skills site is a course-embedded revision of our ACRL PRIMO recognized 2008 website, The Library Research Handbook.

* There were only two courses without library instruction media available for comparison.

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