Measuring Student Success at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

In last week’s blog posting, I mentioned the work the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus has been doing in collecting data to measure student success.  A summary of their project located on their blog states that their initial focus will be on undergraduates and the following questions:

  • How does use of print and digital collections correlate with course pass/fail rates, grades, or GPA?
  • How does use of instructional tools or attendance at instruction sessions correlate with course pass/fail rates, grades, or GPA?
  • Is there a correlation between library use and university retention measures?
  • Are there significant trends in departmental use (including use by students in various majors) of library resources and services?
  • Are students who use library instructional resources more or less likely to use library collections (print or digital)?

The project is being managed by a team of  University library staff members working closely with members in their Office of Institutional Research.  Team members are:

  • Shane Nackerud, Director, Web Development
  • Jan Fransen, Engineering Librarian
  • Kate Peterson, Information Literacy Librarian
  • Kristen Mastel, Outreach & Instruction Librarian
  • Krista Soria, Office of Institutional Research, Analyst
  • David Peterson, Office of Institutional Research, IT Professional

Their project encompasses several sections on Learning in the research agenda of the Value report, including student retention as well as student achievement.  As they showed in their presentation, they were able to examine 5,638 first year students and demonstrate that in that group,  students who used the library at least once were 1.54 times more likely to re-enroll.   Readers may refer to an earlier posting (March 12)  about Presidents and Provosts and the fact that among “84% of the provosts surveyed” “improving retention and degree completion as one of the top five challenges.”  This is a great example of demonstrating the impact that the library has at our institutions.

All members of the team, except David Peterson,  participated in the presentation held on April 27th.  A complete copy of their presentation will be found on their blog site.

There was a lively discussion after their presentation with a few members of the audience expressing concerns about privacy.  Shane has a blog posting as a response to that discussion that provides more details about what the University is using without violating privacy.  So for example, while they do not keep a record of the titles of the books checked out, they are able to retain how many books have been checked out.    “For the first time, we are retaining some user information in order to find out 1) who our users are, 2) what types of resources they use, and 3) how this use impacts their success in the classroom.” [A Word About Privacy, May 1, 2012] 

The University intends to continue with data collection this spring and explore additional issues.  More information on their work will be found on their blog. I am very much looking forward to their next presentation with further results of their studies.

In the meantime, are issues of privacy a factor in your ability to collect information on your campus?  Are you encountering barriers that are preventing you from gathering and making similar correlations?  Have you established a good working relationship with members of your Institutional Research department?  Or do you have stories of similar success that you’d like to share?

Please let us know what you are doing by filling out our survey, located on the right sidebar, or go directly to the survey here.

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