All 21 entries tagged Project Results

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February 16, 2006

The final 7

So we come to the last 7 days here at Warwick for me. You'd think by now that I'd be relaxing. Hah, no chance. I'm busier than I've been since finishing the reading list audit report.

At the moment I'm going through the medical school focus groups from last week attempting to make sense of the data. Overall the groups were really rich in information and ideas from the students, and I have high hopes that quite a few of the areas touched upon are resolvable in the short to medium term.

It certainly was very enjoyable getting out and talking to the students, something I've not really had as much opportunity to do in this job as I'd hoped – they're a really fab bunch here at Warwick.

Once that's done I've got the librarian's work audit to analyse and write up and then that's the lot. I've got pretty much scheduled all my time from now till I leave without any real room for slack – which as a bonus means I can at least really concentrate on what I'm up to.

Speaking of which, I'd better get on with it…

January 24, 2006

3 green highlighters…

Writing about web page

...8 months of effort, 28 figures, 27 tables, 1126 lists, 75 pages and 19,991 words later we come to the end of the grand reading list audit project.

I've now submitted the report to the Library Management Group and the Subject Librarian Teams – and it's up them now to decide just what they want to do with the findings.

I can honestly say that if I never see a module reading list ever again that my life will be so much the richer.

For those who might be daunted by the whole report, there's a short summary on the RIU Web site linked to above.

December 06, 2005

Reading lists, searching aptitudes and the Psychology department

Writing about web page

And so we have some results again. Iíve just finished writing up the Psychology reading list study we conducted over the past couple of months. Iíd love to say we found some shocking results, but it seems what weíve found pretty much supports some assumptions. Not that the timeís been wasted, oh no, because now we have comparative evidence from this year and last yearís cohort of students.

Thereís a full report available for library staff on the Library StaffWeb area as per usual, and Iíve just placed the executive summary on our main web area (follow the link above). If anyone would like to see the full report, then please do get in touch.

In terms of findings though what we discovered can be broken down into two areas: Students and reading lists, and students and searching. In terms of reading lists is does seem that students value their lists, and consider them very authoritative sources of guidance, which is good. However, they do seem to continue to focus only on reading what will get them through examinations and assessments Ė the proportion of students in this study who were willing to use the reading list to read around the subject (as it were) and engage with the wider scholastic realm was very few (less than 10%). This is certainly backed up by the work we did with Politics last year, where in interviews students said much the same. Is this due to time problems, competing demands or a lack of will? I donít know for sure Ė certainly this research doesnít delve into that area, though I might guess itís a mix of all there.

I know this is a real concern for academics, who would dearly love their students to take their subject to heart and become the academics and researchers of tomorrow Ė not exam passing, qualification obtaining work units. But thatís not really something the RIU can resolve Ė we can only point out what weíve found and perhaps suggest ways to assist in supporting any change to the mind set. Itís up to the academics to do something.

In terms of searching skills it does rather seem that students feel confident with knowing where to search and can use some good standard searching. They donít however; appear to be confident in using logical/Boolean searching and other such tools. Now this might well mean theyíre missing out on a lot of very interesting and relevant articles and resources. This is an area the library staff will be able to help out with training, mentioning and support.

Interestingly though from this study it does rather appear that students do not seek out the help or guidance of the academic nor library staff when it comes to deciding if articles or books they have found themselves are useful or accurate. They rely heavily on it either being blessed by appearing on the reading list or available in the Library. Letís just hope the science team here only ever purchase good books for psychology

December 02, 2005

Psychology survey results (and continuing network problems)

Our work server continues to splutter and die at the most inconvenient times which really isn't helping make the process of analysing and writing up the results of my current psychology investigation any easier.

However, there are some early results that I thought I'd share. The project (as I'm sure avid readers of this blog will remember) is the second phase of an investigation into psychology students and their perceptions, needs and requirements as they pertain to their directed reading list. We were comparing some of the attitudes that last year's cohort showed, but also investigating some new areas dealing with the student self-perceptions of their information literacy aptitudes.

What seems to be coming out is to a degree not that surprising. For a start it seems the students are largely happy with their ability to locate information outside of the reading list using the library catalogue, Google and PsychInfo (in that order), but as ever are struggling to find enough books. Whether that's books on the reading list or appropriate books in general is not clear unfortunately – and a question for another day.

However, what is interesting (certainly in terms of encouraging engagement with the research led collections here at Warwick) is the degree to which students have switched to considering journal articles as of greater value. Last time only 16.2% of our sample considered journal articles to be the most valuable reading list items. This time it has rocketed to 28.8% of the sample. Ok, books are still winding the day overall, but their market share has been slashed. To a fair degree this says that 2nd year psych students are happy to engage with journals – which from a library point of view supports the notion that reading lists containing more journal articles are valued by the students, and thanks to our extensive ejournal collections materials that we can make more readily available (than the book collections) to all.

Naturally, this is just one department and indeed two cohorts of students and further study would be needed to discover if this perception was true in more faculties/depts – but it is an interesting start. What the dept decides to do with the final report (out early next week) and the library though is in the purview of senior management, and not something for this humble researcher to dictate!

November 15, 2005

Audio tour online – who's looking at it?

Writing about web page

I do mean looking at the audio tour. Our statistics so far show how many people have accessed the web pages for the audio tour, but we don't actually know whether people have listened to any of the files all the way through.

I can't really say who is looking though, just that some people are. We started out asking people to log in before they could see the audio tour web page, which meant that we could tell if they were staff or students. However, we decided to remove this barrier, and now we can't really tell. Most seem to be students rather than staff, where we can tell.

The most interesting fact that the statistics have brought to light is that the Welcome file is the most accessed one of all the audio tour sound tracks. This is the first file listed on the page, naturally. The Conclusion file is the least well listened to, which is a shame because it does contain valuable information. The tour was designed so that the in between files were optional, so important stuff was put into the Welcome and Conclusion files. It was designed for someone walking around the library with a handset, rather than for those downloading it online. However, if we do decide that we want to meet the demand for an online audio tour specifically, we should be sure to get all our important information in the Welcome file! I think it might actually require a different type of script, too, without the filler information that is provided for whilst people are walking around.

Watch out for my Audio tour feedback report, which will appear on StaffWeb sometime before Christmas…

November 10, 2005

Reading lists: Analysis result 1

Sorry about the dull title, but it's late in the day and my creative juices have long since evaporated and dried up.

Working on the analysis of the reading lists and I appear to have my first result of the project! And what a shock it is (not) – from my sample it appears that reading lists as presented to students do not on the whole recommend books for purchase. The modal value for both the undergraduate and postgraduate sets in the analysis is No purchases suggested (92.3% of U/g depts courses, and 95.7% of P/g dept courses).

Of course we were only able to sample just over 40% of reading lists, but all the same it's the first food for thought. Though 5 months of effort to reach this somewhat unsurprising conclusion does seem a bit much!

November 04, 2005

Stick a fork in me…

Writing about web page

…I'm done.

With reading lists that is – just entered the data for the last one (No. 1125) I'm going to add into the dataset and I couldn't be happier. Sure there's the analysis which I started preparing for this week to conduct – but THAT WILL BE FUN in comparison to this task!

How much sweeter the weekend will be now!

October 26, 2005

Reading Lists: The Do it yourself way!

Just been over to sit in on a very interesting 2nd year Psychology seminar, where the students were asked for one week to go away and build their own reading lists in a particular area (attitude change). This is all part of our on-going work with Psychology, looking at student reactions to alternatives to the "old-fashioned directed reading list" style.

Was very interesting hearing the resources they'd used, criteria for selecting the best items, not to mention the ways in which they'd put their group lists together. Bit of a shame not much mention was made of HOW they found the items beyond the mention of the occasional database, website or (good heavens) the Library catalogue. Not much on any problems encountered and which resources were the best (my impression was that it was a range – which is good, but it wasn't explicit in the talks).

Still, a bit thanks to Martin Skinner for inviting us along and the results will certainly be fed into the next bit of surveying research we'll be conducting later on this term – we just have to see what inducements we'll be allowed to be used by "them downstairs".

October 19, 2005

How I learned to stop worrying and love reading lists

Well maybe not. Here we are in what was planned to be the final week of the reading list analysis/date gathering phase of the project. But wouldn't you know it – at the last I've finally managed to get hold of some lists that I've been trying to obtain for ages. And they're great big fat 500 item lists that take a good couple or more hours to go through.

Darn. But since we have them now and we really could do with including them in the analysis for completeness they're going to have to be done – which means we'll be continuing this phase through to next week. Hopefully some lists I've been promised by the dept of Health & Social science will arrive in that time too and we can include them. But come a week on Friday that really will be it. Even if the dept of Statistics finally comes through with their long promised module lists. (Won't hold my breath on that one).

And if anyone's still counting (other than me) we're up to analysing list#1084 (or 41.161% of all modules)

October 07, 2005

Reading list analysis: The final few miles

The end is in sight! I've decided that as we approach our goal of 40% of lists analysed there are some depts whom I'm never going see enough lists from (despite repeated contacts with them). However, we should have a representative sample from them all – and certainly more than enough data to give us the sort of in depth analysis we want.

So two weeks today at the very latest we'll be shutting down the data gathering side of things and I'll be turning my attention to writing the analysis report(s). Should mean around the start of November we'll be able to have answers to questions such as:

  • -which departments make the most/least reading references
  • -which departments cost the most/least in book purchases
  • -which are the most/least prescriptive about their reading
  • -which are the most/least consistent depts in terms of how they break their reading up
  • -and what are the "model" reading lists by dept & faculty

Of course these are going to be based on the samples I obtained, and no doubt there are always going to be reading lists widely outside of any model, but it will make for interesting reading. Or at least I hope!

And for those of you who love stats:
Faculty lists seen to date

  • 44.31% Arts
  • 45.80 Medical
  • 51.31 Science
  • 29.95 Soc.Science

(or 974 lists analysed in total – an estimated 154 remaining to target!)

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