Library instruction & statistics

I just started a new job at what could turn out to be a really exciting time for my library. One of the hot topics on campus now is RPG — retention, progression, & graduation. Our stats are not impressive, partly because we’re a smaller regional cog in a large state university system. We lose some students because either they realize that college isn’t the path for them or they’re just not ready yet or they couldn’t afford it. However, we also lose a lot of students because they worked hard, got their grades up, and transferred to one of the more prestigious universities in the state system.

In the library, we offer several options for library instruction. We do plenty of one-shot instruction sessions for classes and are trying to get into as many of the freshman orientation classes and freshman comp classes as we can. We also offer a 2 credit hour, semester-long course. As you might imagine, you can cover a lot more ground in teaching information literacy and library research methods when you get them twice a week for the whole semester!

The part that could conceivably make this an exciting time is the fact that my wonderful colleagues have been tracking statistics on the effects of this class for a decade. One of the librarians has been through several rounds with the IRB to get permission to track retention and graduation rates of students that did and did not take our 2 credit hour library course. She can show a statistically significant correlation between taking this one course as a freshman and increased retention to the second year, as well as improved graduation rates. (Right now, I don’t know of anything published on this study, but I will update when it comes out!)

So, now, when meeting with people in a position to decide how to allocate funding to improve RPG, we can show hard numbers, along with qualitative data from student evaluations, to prove the value of this course. I think that’s awesome! It’s an amazing way to show return on investment and hopefully get more funding funneled our way.

So my question to you is: who else is doing this? What sorts of instruction do you offer — just one-shots, or do you also do credit-bearing courses? And what kind of stats do you keep on these classes? Is anyone else out there tracking things the way we are?

And, while I’m at it, do you know of any universities that include a credit-bearing library instruction course as a required part of the core curriculum? Ours is included as an option in the core curriculum but is not required — we don’t have the staff or physical resources to even think about trying to make it a required course at this point. But I’d love to know if you do have a comparable course as a required course and, if so, how that has worked out!

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