Student library blues. An investigation into low NSS library scores for selected courses, methodologies, actions, student behaviours and expectations (2014)

Peter Gledhill & Olive Nyaga

Students’ experiences of library resources and services, both on and off-campus has a considerable impact on most students’ time at SHU.  Their rating of this experience in the National Student Survey is publicly available information prominently displayed on each course’s Key Information Set data.

Although students rated library resources and services highly in the National Student Survey for 2013 (averaging 89% across the University), there were a few courses within some programme areas that had low satisfaction scores.  After some initial discussions within a selected programme with course leaders no obvious reason for these scores was identified.  The project aims to identify reasons for low scores, establishing a methodology for similar investigations in other courses and putting in place appropriate actions.

The paper will outline the results of our analysis of;

  • NSS data for library resources and services across the university and in particular for courses in the Faculty of Development and Society including student comments
  • other student surveys such as PTES
  • students’ perceptions of learning resources questions (questions 16,17,18)
  • Comparison of courses within the selected programme area with courses that recorded high satisfaction ratings in the  NSS
  • comparison with competitor institutions’ scores for equivalent courses
  • focus groups for current level 4, 5 and 6 students
  • student questionnaires
  • library stock and expenditure analysis
  • students’ behaviour in accessing library resources on and off-campus
  • course structures including common modules across the programme
  • possible impact of course assessments
  • information literacy content, timing and delivery
  • student expectations of library services
  • messages and information given to students about library resources and services

We will discuss a range of actions that have been put in place and are planned for the coming year including work on setting and managing expectations of students.  We will address methodological issues and practical difficulties.

Reference will be made to the literature on university libraries’ responses to student feedback and students’ understanding and interpretation of NSS survey questions.

Our conclusions will be offered including the relative importance attached to each factor in the student experience. We hope that the paper will foster further discussion and ideas from the audience and potential future collaborations.