21 Dec 2011

Using the library does the trick

Research suggests that going to the library and actually dipping into resources on offer (rather than sleeping off a hangover) helps one doing better academically. Our place (narrowly) looked at the correlation between the number of books borrowed and grades achieved; a trend was identified showing that students who borrow “more” tend to do better. The question is whether any statistical significance can be applied to this finding.

Well, the University of Huddersfield conducted a longitudinal study over a period of four years (2005/6 – 2008/09) for the purpose of substantiating a reliable link between library usage and student attainment. Surprise, surprise: a strong correlation between library usage and degree results was suggested. Huddersfield took a broader view by including the number of e-resources accessed, the number of books loaned and the number of accesses to the University Library.

So the idea is to see to what extent ‘user activity data’ (= a record of a user’s actions on a Web site or software system or other relevant institutional service) and ‘attention data’ (= the record of what a user has viewed on a Web site or software system or other relevant institutional service) affect academic performance in a student.

Importantly, Huddersfield acknowledges that library usage is not the one and only factor influencing overall student attainment. Various variables affect the reliability in user data analysis. For example, some courses do not require extensive borrowing of library materials, which in turn does not say anything substantial about quality of academic performance.

For results see presentation below:

Huddersfield has since hooked up with a bunch of other universities (JISC funded initiative) to prove the hypothesis that ‘there is a statistically significant correlation across a number of universities between library activity data and student attainment’.


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