Positive correlation between academic library services and high-impact practices for student retention

S W. Herman, Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell

Abstract

© 2016 Herman. Objective - To investigate the perceived alignment between academic library services and high-impact practices (HIPs) that affect student retention. Design - Survey questionnaire. Setting - Public comprehensive universities in the United States of America with a Carnegie classification of master's level as of January 2013. Subjects - 68 library deans or directors out of the 271 who were originally contacted. Methods - The author used Qualtrics software to create a survey based on the HIPs, tested the survey for reliability, and then distributed it to 271 universities. Library services were grouped into 1 of 3 library scales: Library collection, library instruction, or library facilities. The survey consisted of a matrix of 10 Likert-style questions addressing the perceived level of alignment between the library scales and the HIPs. Each question provided an opportunity for the respondent to enter a "brief description of support practices" (p 477). Additional demographic questions addressed the years of experience of the respondent, undergraduate student enrollment of the university, and whether librarians held faculty rank. Main Results - The author measured Pearson correlation coefficients and found a positive correlation between the library scales and the HIPs. All three library scales displayed a moderately strong positive correlation between first-year seminars and experiences (HIP 1), common intellectual experiences (HIP 2), writing-intensive courses (HIP 4), undergraduate research (HIP 6), diversity and global learning (HIP 7), service learning and community-based learning (HIP 8), internships (HIP 9), and capstone courses and projects (HIP 10). The library collections scale and library facilities scale displayed a moderately strong correlation with learning communities (HIP 3) and collaborative assignments and projects (HIP 5). The library instruction scale displayed a strong positive correlation with HIP 3 and a very strong positive correlation with HIP 5. Each of the positive correlations was of high significance. As the rating of library alignment with each HIP increased, so did the total rating of each library scale. Along with the quantitative data, various themes for each HIP relating to the library's support practices emerged from the qualitative feedback. No significant trends were noted from the demographic questions. Conclusion - Library deans or directors can utilize the conceptual framework presented in this study to connect the impact of library services to terminology and practices commonly understood by university administrators. Further research using the conceptual framework would benefit future discussion on how academic libraries measure impact or success of their library services.