RIOT: Does Library Instruction Make You Smarter?

All across UT (and higher education in general), people are attempting to assess student learning and articulate the value of their programs to student success, measured by retention, on-time graduation, GPA, post-college success and more.  While we are successfully measuring the impact of our sessions on student learning, meaning we know they are achieving our learning outcomes in our sessions for at least some of our programs, we haven’t measured whether what they are learning translates to more general success in or after college.   Since Megan Oakleaf’s Value of Academic Libraries Review and Report in 2010, I have been wondering just what impact one-shot instruction sessions have on student success, whether that is defined as GPA, retention or on-time graduation.  I am clearly not the only one wondering this so I put together this post as an attempt to answer that question.

In 2007, Joseph Matthews published the book “Library Assessment in Higher Education” which I haven’t read yet but have read about many times.  He looked at studies up to 2007 and found that they are pretty evenly split between finding a correlation between library instruction, GPAs and retention and finding no correlation.   I found a few more articles published since 2007 that represent what has been happening since his book came out.  This list is by no means comprehensive but the articles illustrate the state of the research on the question and the ways people are approaching the question.

Vance, Jason M., Rachel Kirk, and Justin G. Gardner. “Measuring the Impact of Library Instruction on Freshman Success and Persistence: A Quantitate Analysis.” Communication in Information Literacy 6.1 (2012): 49–58.

Librarians from Middle Tennessee State University attempted to find out whether one-shots for freshmen impacted their GPAs and/or their likelihood of returning for a second year (retention).  To do so, they gathered information about the one-shot classes they were offering to freshmen over a two year period, noting that these were introductory rather than research intensive classes.  They also gathered information about high school GPA, family income, ACT scores, race, gender, and major (all variables that have been correlated with retention).  The results of the study were that they could not find a direct connection between library instruction and student retention, although library instruction does appear to have a “small measurable correlation with student performance” (which, in turn, is tied to success and persistence).  There were a lot of issues with the study that the authors themselves point out, including the fact that the students they included as having attended instruction sessions may not have – they were enrolled in the courses that came in but they may have skipped.

Wong, Shun Han Rebekah, and Dianne Cmor. “Measuring Association Between Library Instruction and Graduation GPA.” College & Research Libraries 72.5 (2011): 464–473.

Librarians from Hong Kong Baptist University looked at the correlation between GPA and library workshop attendance for 8,000+ students who graduated between 2007 and 2009.  The findings were that GPAs were positively correlated with increased workshop offerings.  In programs that offered 5 workshops, GPAs were highest.  In those that offered 3 or 4, GPAs were positively affected and in those that offered 1 or 2, there was no positive correlation.  Workshops, in this case, were a mix of required and voluntary, stand-alone and course integrated.  One issue with this (and many) study is that it is only about correlation, not causation.

Bowles-Terry, Melissa. “Library Instruction and Academic Success: A Mixed-Methods Assessment of a Library Instruction Program.” Evidence Based Library and Information Practice 7.1 (2012): 82–95.  

This study from the University of Wyoming used a mixed-methods approach, with qualitative data provided by focus groups with 15 graduating seniors and quantitative data provided by transcripts for about 4,500 students.  The interesting thing about this study is that it provided some evidence for the idea that scaffolded information literacy instruction is most effective for student success.  Students in the focus group said the ideal form of instruction was a session their freshmen year and then at least one more when they were farther along in their majors to focus more on doing research in their discipline.  Transcript analysis showed a correlation (not causation) between GPA at graduation and getting upper division library instruction.  Once again, the authors identified issues such as the fact that they didn’t know if students in the transcript analysis actually attended sessions or skipped that day, and the fact that the analysis only showed correlation.

So what is the answer to our question?  A definitive “we don’t know.”   And where does that leave us as we struggle to demonstrate our value to the teaching & learning mission of UT?  It is clear that researchers in libraries are attempting to answer the question of whether what we do in library instruction is transferrable and positively impacts student’s retention, graduation and academic success.  It is also clear that we can’t definitely say it does.  On the plus side, I didn’t find anything saying it harmed students.

Questions for discussion:

  • How do you articulate the value of library instruction to the students you work with?  To the faculty?
  • Is there something we could or should be doing here in the Libraries to attempt to answer the question?
  • Does the fact that we don’t know affect your plans for library instruction provision
  • Does the fact that we don’t know (beyond anecdotal evidence from our faculty) even matter?



RIOT: Political Blogs

Information Literacy in the Study of American Politics: Using New Media to Teach Information Literacy in the Political Science Classroom
Behavioral & Social Sciences LibrarianVolume 32, Issue 1, 2013
I chose this article because it looks at an interesting collaboration between a librarian and a Political Science professor. It also challenges my thinking about how to present evaluative criteria for resources. Given the rise and ubiqity of political blogs, news aggregators, amateur journalism sites and social networks it’s important to think of how to use them in teaching Information literacy. “the new media environment for covering American politics is a chaotic blend of independent bloggers, Internet media aggregators (e.g., The Huffington Post), social media networks, and traditional news organizations with a Web presence. In this context it becomes necessary to think about IL more as a group of methods for thinking about and analyzing the claims made by variegated information sources than as a set of skills that can be taught divorced from a disciplinary engagement with the information content”
The authors describe an assignment where 12 undergraduate students look at a competitive congressional race. They were instructed to look at a number of variables like like fundraising info, campaign tactics, advertising, and media coverage and to consider local political history and demographic info for context. A challenge the authors saw that it was easy for students to find bits and pieces of news information related to the assignment. But they had difficulty with critically examining the claims or their sources or how to distinguish between different types of content such as for example, a highly polemical blog post vs. an empirical analysis and then synthesizing that info into a coherent and original analysis.

Based on their findings, they came up with 4 categories or types of students based on their work. These categories are fluid and it’s probably not accurate to divide all students into these neat 4 groups. I think they are instructive in give insight into how students might engage with these new media and other information sources.

The Believer (4)
Takes all news sources as trustworthy. There
is no attempt to judge the verity of claims
either in the context of the news item itself,
or on any understanding of the institutional
platform from which the reporter is writing.

The Cynic (4)
Claims that nothing written about a campaign
can be trusted. In the competition to win an
election, candidates and their campaigns
will distort facts to win election. All
reporting about the campaign is similarly
biased, where amateur and professional
journalists have some agenda that favors
one side or the others.
The Opportunistic Surfer (2)
Takes satisfaction in the easily available and
diverse sources of information available to
the technology-savvy researcher. The
benefit of access to information is not so
much for deeper analysis but to use the
technology to find easier ways to collect
The Discerning Analyst (2)
Can navigate through all types of information
sources and can evaluate the veracity of
claims using disciplinary tools and concepts
from history, political science, and current
affairs. That is, the analyst can draw on
recent historic events like previous

These new media sources can provide an amazing array of opinions and viewpoints on current events and policy developments that were not available 10 years ago.

Questions / Points of Discussion:

What has your experience been like working with new media in information Literacy sessions?

RIOT: Visual Literacy Discussion

Beatty, N. A. (2013) Cognitive Visual Literacy: From Theories and Competencies to Pedagogy. Art Documentation, 32(1), 33-42.

This article reviews the ACRL standards and demonstrates ways to integrate visual literacy instruction into the classroom. The author also reviews cognitive theories associated with visual literacy.

First the author makes the case for why visual literacy is essential to being literate in the 21st century. Images are everywhere and we interact with them on a daily basis both in our professional and personal lives. Creating and posting images is a regular activity for most of us. The author argues that librarians can include visual literacy instruction into information literacy instruction. And I would argue when it is appropriate or when it makes sense. She argues that cognitive theories such as Dual Coding Theory, Cognitive Load Theory and Multimedia Learning Theory can help teach visual literacy to students.

Here are brief explanations of the theories:
Dual Coding Theory: humans have a visual memory and a verbal memory.
Cognitive Load Theory: when new information is presented it is best to tie it with existing information already in the long term memory.
Multimedia Learning Theory: Using words to describe images. Is this a challenge?

The Visual Literacy Standards definition: “a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use and create images and visual media.”

The author mentions the following visual literacy standards and performance indicators in the paper though this is not a complete list of performance indicators. I have provided examples for application from either the author or myself:

Standard 1. The visually literate student determines the nature and extent of the visual material needed.
1. The visually literate student defines and articulates a need for an image
2. The visually literate student identifies a variety of images sources, materials and types (ex. Help students find images, show them more effective ways to find images and introduce tools)

Standard 2. The visually literate student finds and accesses needed images and visual media effectively and efficiently. (ex. Ask students to find images on a particular topic)

Standard 3. The visually literate student interprets and analyzes the meanings of images and visual media.
1. The visually literate student can identify information relevant to an image’s meaning.
2. The visually literate student situates an image in its cultural, social and historical contexts.
3. The visually literate student should be able to identify the physical, technical and design components of an image. (ex. Analog or born digital; original or reproduction; altered or manipulated)
4. The visually literate student validates interpretation and analysis of images through discourse with others. (ex. this could be done in a seminar style class)

Standard 4. The visually literate student evaluates images and their sources (ex. Comparing images of an iconic work like the Mona Lisa)

Standard 5. The visually literate student uses images effectively for different purposes. (ex. Performance indicator 2: using technology effectively. Using new digital media lab and programming available)

Standard 6. The visually literate student designs and creates meaningful images and visual media. (ex. Performance indicator 3: using a variety of tools and technologies to produce images and visual media. Again leveraging the digital media lab offerings)

Standard 7. The visually literate student understands many of the ethical, legal, social and economic issues surrounding the creation and use of images and visual media, and accesses and uses visual materials ethically. (ex. Comparing the same image and metadata/citation from two different sources)

The author talks about finding an image in an art history class but do you teach classes where the students clearly needs to find images?

Are you familiar with the ACRL Visual Literacy standards? Do you incorporate Visual Literacy into library instruction?

Do you think it is important to discuss visual literacy with students outside of the visual disciplines? Or do you think visual literacy is interdisciplinary?

Do you show students how to find images and how to use particular tools to find images?

Do you teach students how to cite images analogous to citing textual sources?

How can we create opportunities in the new Digital Media Labs for teaching Visual Literacy?

Discussion: One-Shot Library Instruction, does it work?

RIOT began with a round-robin. Roxanne shared a recent “crashing failure.” She worked with a nutrition professor to assign pre-readings on how to write scientific articles. Not many of the students did the reading. The professor did not attend the session and was not there to scold them. Roxanne dealt with this problem by summarizing the readings for the students, proving that she was flexible and able to think on her feet.
Michele shared the Meghan had assigned some preliminary readings and tutorials before some of her classes and it worked. There was probably some kind of accountability, or perhaps the students had to submit something beforehand.
Janelle shared her experience. She assigned something that the students had to complete before the session. She said it was a success.
Cindy shared her strategy of a two-shot instruction session: She assigns something to be submitted and works with the professor to make sure there is a participation grade in Canvass.
Martha then summarized why she thought the article was interesting:
• It was realistic: one-shot 50 min session
• She liked that they used a Google search to evaluate comprehension of concepts
• She liked the blind methodology of not telling students what they were really studying
• Overall, it was a simple approach was refreshing

Martha was also heartened because the study showed that one-shot actually do work.

Other points of interest:
• Background literature: internet is easier to use than library resources; students will sacrifice quality for ease-of-use
• Students with low info-literacy skills are less-likely to know that they need training. “They don’t know that they don’t know”
• Sex/gender or other variables didn’t have a significant influence
• Students who had library sessions made better judgments about the authority of the resources and had better/more sophisticated justifications of their judgments
• Students demonstrated that they were transferring the skills and using these techniques in more personal, casual searches

Martha asked:
• How can we incorporate these findings in how we approach instruction?
• Are there any interesting concepts that are not being addressed?
• What did people think of the study’s methodology?

Kristen shared that there is often not enough time in these sessions to cover evaluating information.

Michele said that we know that one-shots are not enough, but that’s all we have.

Cindy questioned whether we could use these findings to demonstrate the need for more library instruction and the case for selecting relevant, non-library resources later in life

Martha stated that the study shows that library sessions are more than databases and tools: they are about critical thinking and information literacy.

Kristen stated that there is something to be said for teaching students that there is proprietary, subscription-based information.

AJ said that this is the other side of libraries promoting open-access, promoting that Libraries have access to proprietary information.

Cindy said she thought the Libraries should do more to promote the public library and access.

Janelle pointed out that it is often difficult to find academic research at the public library and that she recommends that graduates join professional associations to access those associations’ journals.

Roxanne uses a pre-class survey to determine students’ exposure to info-literacy and previous library instruction.

Many spoke of increased library usage and questions from students who had information literacy sessions. The study showed that students ask more, and more complex, questions after information literacy sessions.

The group discussed that students often do not know what kinds of questions to ask. We may need to provide examples. What can you Ask a Librarian?

RIOT: Information Literacy, A Faculty View

RIOT: Information Literacy, A Faculty View

Saunders, L. (2012). Faculty Perspectives on Information Literacy as a Student Learning Outcome. Journal Of Academic Librarianship, 38(4), 226-236.

When interacting with students, library jargon is avoided in favor of natural language and a clear presentation of ideas, however, when we interact with faculty members, this rule sometimes falls by the wayside. We often think of faculty members “knowing better” and having a good idea of what information literacy is, how important it is, and who is responsible for it, when conversely, faculty members are often at a loss on these points. This can often lead to a lack of faculty buy-in when attempting to approach faculty members with collaborative IL instruction or course integration ideas.

In the article above, the authors conducted a qualitative and quantitative research study focusing on  asking discipline faculty how to define IL, how important they believe it is, and who the is the main person responsible for IL instruction, among other questions. When asked to define IL and explain how important faculty members believe it is, the faculty members overwhelmingly agreed that it was critical to students’ education however, a universal definition of IL could not be found. Additionally, several participants confused information literacy with technology or computer literacy while others were unfamiliar with the term but knew the concepts.

Furthermore, when pressed on when and by whom IL skills should be addressed participants again where unclear with a majority stating that IL skills should be learned in junior or senior high school and were unsure if it should be brought up in higher education or relegated to first year courses only. Most faculty members agreed that IL is a shared responsibility but were unsure of ways to incorporate it in their classes due to several factors like: Large class sizes, no research component for the course, pressure from department to focus on another skill (writing.) Moreover, while IL is seen as critical and librarians were viewed as experts on the subject, most participants viewed any librarian class time as an “add on” to use if there was any available class time they could give up or need covered. No faculty members mentioned or showed experience in working with librarians to design assignments, co-teach classes, or develop learning outcomes.

Based on this information, here are some questions for our discussion:

  • Are there any strategies we could incorporate to increase understanding of IL to discipline faculty?
  • Are we treating or should we be treating faculty members as collaborators/peers or users/patrons? Or both?
  • Are there other avenues of IL instruction discipline faculty could utilize other than traditional one-shot sessions?
  • How can we obtain faculty buy-in in regards to IL instruction when their course doesn’t have a research or writing component?

RIOT: One-Shot Library Instruction, does it work?

Like most librarians, I would love to be able to integrate library instruction in to courses working collaboratively with faculty but the reality is that, for the most part, I only get to do single sessions for various courses so I was quite interested and encouraged by the findings of this article:

Spievak, E. R., & Hayes-Bohanan, P. (2013). Just Enough of a Good Thing: Indications of Long-Term Efficacy in One-Shot Library Instruction. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 39(6), 488-499.

The authors asked undergraduate students to evaluate the results of a Google search for genetically modified foods. “Participants were asked to consider the initial Google search page as well as the content, layout and usefulness of individual web pages in the context of a one of the following hypothetical situations: freshman-level writing assignment, upper-level research assignment, or personally relevant search.”  The researchers had an interesting approach to obtain unbiased responses by not explicitly indicating that they were trying to find out if library instruction was effective. Instead, they advertised the study “as an investigation of reactions to and attitudes about web pages.”

Spievak and Hayes-Bohanan found that students that had library instruction were significantly more likely:

  • to choose the US Government webpage as the best source and to choose Wikipedia as the worst source
  • to continue searching for more information for their project
  • engaged in more elaborative thinking about the sources and their choices was indicated by the open-ended request for suggestions for improvements to the presented materials
  • to be more efficient in evaluating sources and engaged in more complex information processing
  • to evaluate the sources critically
  • ask reference questions, and also more sophisticated questions

These results, not doubt, are encouraging: library instruction is an effective tool in building information literacy and critical thinking.  Here a few questions to start our discussion:

  • Are there particular strategies that we can incorporate in to single library sessions that can further encourage the development of these skills?
  • Can we create support materials (guides, tutorials, etc) that complement what is working in these sessions?
  • Are there significant information literacy concepts that we can see missing in the findings of this study?  And if so, how do address those gaps?

Aside from the content of the article, I also think the research methodology that the authors used is worth a closer look and can be a source for discussion:

  • Are there any issues with their methodology?
  • Can we incorporate assessment in less obvious ways?
  • Can this approach be scaled up to more complex research tasks?

Discussion: It’s not just an event…It’s a classroom

Kristen kicked off the discussion by asking the group about collaboration with student organizations.
Benson has been involved in a student led anthropology conference. They have also worked with student groups such as a Spanish and Portuguese group who wanted information about the Benson. AJ will go to a classroom to talk to a group of students, in this case there were 15-20. This again is student initiated.
Teaching and Learning Services (TLS formerly LIS) works with student groups. RAs will ask them for a study break or pre-Law student groups will ask for a presentation about the Libraries. The Welcome Tables were also mentioned. Michele considered the learning outcomes for the welcome tables and thought relieving library anxiety would be one. Peer mentors were also mentioned.
When Roxanne puts on a Science Study Break she always makes time for information about the library and relevant to the study break to the attendees.
For Poetry month, Kristen partnered with students including a Design class who designed a broadside for an upcoming event. She has also been considering classes in the library about poetry led by students.
The art history undergraduate symposium was mentioned, both assisting students in preparing their visuals and the FAL co-sponsoring the event. Laura plans to mention the FAL and its resources at the event.
April mentioned the student entrepreneurs group and assisting the students in their 72 hour marathon. She helps the students get started with their projects and research.
PG mentioned vendors coming to campus and looking to students as their audience. Vendors have considered having experts come and lead a discussion. This is primarily motivated by marketing.
There are so many student groups, some are stable and some are fleeting. They are looking for space to meet and connect, so the Libraries has an opportunity. But we must offer more than space. We must offer the value-added service. We need to find partnerships that are related to student learning.
In the media lab focus groups, creating newsletters for student organizations came up as a need. A workshop in the space could consist of creating a newsletter and a design faculty or grad student could lead it.
The Archives workshop was mentioned. This is coming up next month. Elise steered the conversation to the Archives Week programming that she wants to do in the Fall. She is trying to work with the Society for American Archivists student group. She is hoping for a faculty panel about how archives are used in the classroom or possibly students talking about how they have used archives in their class projects.
Kelly mentioned the K-12 Mapping Workshop led by Julianne at the Benson. Two grad students who worked on mapping and worked with Benson maps presented. This was partly student led.
The conversation then moved to student initiated or student curated exhibits. Martha talked about the exhibit currently being mounted at Architecture and Planning. She also wondered about engaging students in much smaller exhibits, for example students could work on a display of special collections objects they came across in their research. She also mentioned that she was giving her end of semester presentation in the Alexander Architectural Archive for the class she was taking this semester.
The discussion then moved to engaging students in pulling materials for exhibit or display. And we talked about the difficulties of setting something up that is driven by someone else and the difficulty of doing something regularly or committing to anything these days.
AJ mentioned the Benson student photo exhibit which is not student led but students are the authors of the work on exhibit.
Brittney discussed the Library Guru idea which is to train students to go out and let other students know about the Library. This works because students tend to be more comfortable with a peer than with a librarian. These trained students should receive compensation for their work.
Building relationships with the Marketing campaign and Advertising campaign classes was also mentioned.
Martha also wondered about leveraging resources for a student competition to redesign how the journals are displayed at the Architecture and Planning.
Janelle talked about Education students and engaging with them about publishing and the publishing process. This is a service that we can grow and that will be of interest to graduate students across disciplines. A library class could be developed and recorded and learning objects could be created around it.
The Texas Teen Book Festival was discussed and its relationship with the Youth Collection. This may be the first step in moving the Texas Book Festival on to campus.
Kristen thanked everyone for contributing to the discussion.

RIOT: It’s Not Just an Event… It’s a Classroom

This is, as usual, a lively month for events at the UT Libraries – I know many of you are organizing events, and PCL events are also part of the vision-in-action of the Learning Commons. This past month I’ve been working (with a lot of great collaborators) on planning for the April 10 National Poetry Month event (yes, that’s a shameless plug!). I wanted to take a look at how we describe/use programming in the library – and, in particular, in collaboration with students – as information literacy education/engagement. And then, of course, how we can raise awareness about this benefit.

I took a look at this article:
Margeaux Johnson, Melissa J. Clapp, Stacey R. Ewing, and Amy Buhler, “Building a Participatory Culture: Collaborating with Student Organizations for Twenty-First Century Library Instruction,” Collaborative Librarianship 3.1 (2011): 2-15.

The authors make a connection with Partnership for Twenty-First Century Skills’ “Framework for 21st-Century Learning” and, in particular, their focus on “collaboration and communication skills” as well as on information literacy (2). While they see lots of literature about librarians’ collaborations, one missing piece is analysis of librarians’ connection with student organizations.

I like the framework of the “participatory culture”: “Twenty-first century learners not only create content, but they also contribute content to their community. This practice of community membership, creation, and collaboration can be seen as building a participatory culture” (5). Libraries, they point out, are testing grounds for new skills for building participatory cultures. While I hardly think this is limited to the 21st century, I do think that we are drawing on student interests and participation in the classroom as well as in our outreach. How are we making explicit connections between the two?

The examples the authors offer from the University of Florida indicate that to them collaboration focuses on getting students into the library. I wanted more discussion of what the negotiation part of the collaboration looks like – more on this after the overview.

Two of the examples are, I think, particularly useful and relevant to our context. The authors describe the first as an example of inviting students to peer-teach information literacy at the library. A student organization focused on understanding and promoting student creation of Open Access materials approached the library to hold an OA week event in their learning commons. The students selected four open-source media creation programs to load onto learning commons computers, then held an open classroom where the students taught other students how to use the programs to create media mash-ups. (In case you’re interested, the four programs were: Gimp for image editing, Blender for 3-D animation, Audacity for sound editing, and Inkscape for vector drawing.)

For each example, the librarians offer learning objectives. For example:
Learners attending the “Mind Mashup” workshop will be able to do the following:
1. Select Creative Commons licensed images, movies, and music to reuse, remix, and construct new creative products.
2. Identify Gimp, Blender, Audacity, and Inkscape as high quality open source software programs available for media creation.
3. Recognize the library Information Commons as a place for high-tech learning and play.
4. Create their own multimedia projects using images, video, and sound clips.  (7)

In other examples the library participated as a Human v. Zombies site and the Student Government partnered with the library for their first year student recruitment event.

The article closes with an inviting framing for these collaborative events: “Developing collaborative experiences with student-led organizations not only increases turnout at events, but also creates opportunities for students to develop twenty-first century skills, practice new media literacies, and attain higher levels of cognitive engagement” (12).

I’m interested in how we do or can think about our events in these terms, and market them as such to update faculty and student ideas about information literacy.

Here are some questions to consider for our discussion:

  • How do we/can we frame ongoing library programming as information literacy education?
  • How do/could you partner with student organizations within your liaison departments?
  • How can we build information literacy education into the collaboration itself? For example, how can we engage students in the ethics of representation (the Humans v. Zombies event relied heavily on “zombie trances in Haiti” (9))?
  • How could/does this event-based collaboration inform our classroom instruction?

Discussion: Talking Research Data Management

At our February 25 RIOT, Robyn started with including us all, reminding us it’s not just the sciences requiring data management: the NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) and the IES (Institute of Education Sciences) require data management, too. (Tellingly, perhaps, the NEH data management plan executive summary is a PDF. The IES offers a detailed data sharing implementation guide.)

In her post, Robyn outlined a dream workshop building graduate students’ information literacy through data management skills. At the session, we worked through how to move towards such workshop.

Start with a small, focused group: One starting point would be to focus the workshop by working with a small group of graduate students in one lab, or starting with one Principal Investigator, or doing a drop-in session at the Pickle campus. Then, move outward to a department or area. Research says data management education gets too expansive in interdisciplinary groups, so it’s best to focus on a small group.

Perspective of scale: Schools doing this well have teams of dedicated data curation librarians. Purdue (linked to in the original post), for example, has money to invest in infrastructure like this. So, we need strategies to make this scalable as we get started.

So what does this look like? From the librarian’s perspective, data curation might start with a website or online modules teaching students how to organize and manage their files, preparing students to think about and create effective metadata so that the data is truly shareable.

Starting where we are: Structurally, we can start by sharing what we have. Let’s let students know about Box and the UTDR. We also have data sets available through subscription to ICPSR (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research); using this tool, we could build data literacy.

Then build skills: The critical scaffolding for using Box and UTDR effectively includes issues like copyright and the ethics of open data. These conversations open up space to think about how graduating students leave data behind, how well-structured data can increase citation.

Sharing data: This approach could build capacity within UT, since people want free data sets to use with undergraduate classes, particularly with the growth of digital humanities. Building UT awareness of data management frameworks and metadata best practices would allow UT classes to use UT student and faculty data sets, an exciting prospect.

Connected to Learning Commons Initiative: During focus groups for the learning commons, students and faculty said they wanted help using Excel to manage data. This would include both help using Excel and help understanding data analysis (as well as understanding that changing how we analyze the data can change our results).

Next steps:

  • Build data management discussion/awareness into graduate student orientations.
  • Add data management resources to research guides.
  • Curriculum mapping to find out where students are using/creating data.
  • Get started with small, scalable groups.

Our role is in building best practices, connecting researchers with data networks for the future.

RIOT: Research Data Management (aka Data Management, Data Curation, and Data Stewardship)

One of my goals is to provide a workshop on data management for engineering graduate students.  Instead of presenting on a particular article, I’d like to highlight some of the initiatives done at other universities.  Many of these schools have dedicated library staff working, to some degree, on data management instruction and/or outreach.  Many of my engineering colleagues are working on this issue, but this is not solely an engineering topic, librarians from the natural sciences and social sciences are often part of an interdisciplinary team.  I’m curious if others are working in this area with your students/faculty?

Why would students want our help with managing their data?

  • Prevent data loss (preservation)
  • Continuity among rotating graduate students
  • Providing unusable data is not nice.  In other words, if a dataset is made available in an acceptable format other researchers, educators, and the general public can benefit from your work.  [Of course, personal/private information, patent and proprietary issues are taken into account.]
  • Funding requirement*

*Data Management Plan: This is a requirement of funding agencies including the NSF, NEH, NIH, IMLS and the Institute of Education Sciences.  Straight forward(ish) – a data management plan demonstrates to the funding agency how you will make your datasets freely available to the public.  Colleen has a helpful page and the DMPTool is a service that provides step by step instructions for researchers.  Not a place to re-invent the wheel.

Big data: So I’m not talking about managing “big data”. This is the type of work being conducted by the likes of CERN, the federal government, and Target.

Why should we be interested in providing Research Data Management services?

  • There is a definite need among graduate students and post docs.
  • This is an important trend within our profession.
  • This with be a topic for a future UT Strategic Initiative.

Sample of ARL institutions:

MIT – Data Management and Publishing: MIT has a great website, one that I will use as a model in creating my own research data management web page.  While they don’t have a dedicated position for data management services, they do have a team of 5 librarians from various departments including engineering, economics, and biosciences.

Purdue – Research and Data Services: Data Curation Profiles

University of Minnesota – Managing your data: Another great website, I will borrow from these guys as well.  They also have videos of previous workshops.

University of Virginia Library – Data Management Consulting Group: U.Va. has 4 data consultants! In addition to having a great website they have a Library Research Data Services Newsletter, provide Data Services office hours, and conduct a series of data management workshops.

Potential Modules:

  1. Overview (i.e. why managing your data is important)
  2. File organization best practices/standards
  3. Metadata
  4. Data storage and security protocols
  5. Data sharing options (i.e. Institutional repositories vs subject based repositories)
  6. Copyright and Ethics
  7. Funding requirements/Data Management Plan (DMP)

Resources/Toolkits for Librarians: