Ask-a-Librarian Transcript Analysis to Improve Student Online Research Instruction

Submitted by Christopher Zagar on

Faculty librarians from all of the Maricopa Community Colleges cooperatively staff a real-time instant messaging service called Ask-a-Librarian (Ask). Through the Ask service, these librarians assist students from all colleges with research during the day and contract with a cooperative of librarians for additional support 24/7/365. A district-wide committee of librarians oversees the service. To ensure that this service provides Maricopa students with consistent and quality instruction that addresses their research needs, the committee performed annual rubric evaluations of session transcripts over 3 years on topics that research suggests are best practices for this type of service. As a result of these evaluations, professional growth workshops were created to help Ask monitors improve the research instruction provided. The attached results demonstrate a notable improvement in the first two years, but a slight dip from year 2 to 3 suggested an on-going need to reinforce the service standards which was answered with a new workshop offered in Spring 2013 that will be repeated in Fall 2013.

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Peter Turner Mon, 04/08/2013 - 12:03pm

Chris - that's a wonderful service offered to our students. I found it interesting that there were fewer respondents to the survey, on average, in 2012, than in prior years. One statistic missing was the total number of students using the Ask services. That aside, the continual use of data (as evidenced in the attachment) to shape future trainings is a perfect example of data-driven decision making! Kudos to faculty librarians in Maricopa!

Christopher Zagar Mon, 04/08/2013 - 7:22pm

In reply to by Peter Turner

Pete - since the service is anonymous, we don't have a count of students, but we do have a count of chat sessions year by year broken out by institution which speaks to at least part of your question. I have attached a copy.

Erik Huntsinger Tue, 04/16/2013 - 1:37pm

Chris, I'm really impressed by the scale of data collection performed in this study.  I can't think of a better way to catalyze change on such a wide scale over a sustained period time.  However, I think that the data isn't being fully utilized yet.  How has EMCC's librarians do on a sub-analysis?  Where are we relatively strong and weak compared to the District?  We might even find that one particular librarian may need specialized training (or just a reminder) in order to see these numbers improve substantially over the years.  With that said, the District librarian should be proud to not only offer such a comprehensive and personal experience, but to also be a role model in the collection and use of data to improve how we do our jobs!

Christopher Zagar Wed, 04/17/2013 - 9:16am

In reply to by Erik Huntsinger

Eric, Ask is coordinated by a faculty librarian named Karen Dochert who was hired specficially to oversee this service at the District-wide level. In addition to this project which informs us on issues of the service at large, Karen has a standing offer to all Ask monitors to review their transcripts with them on request. When she does this, she provides specific recommendations regarding what the transcripts show versus best practices to help people understand how they can make these online instruction sessions stronger. There are also Maricopa librarians who have engaged in self-analysis of their Ask instruction as part of their FEP. Thus, we're addressing things at the very wide and the very narrow, but not necessarily in-between at the college level.  This is definitely something I'll keep in mind as we move forward.  Thanks!

Nikol Price Wed, 04/17/2013 - 8:33am

Chris - this is a wonderful reflection of the work that our District librarians do to help students every day through ASK. I especially appreciate how the ASK coordinator uses this data to create specific training workshops that target weak areas that are found through the analysis. Thank you for making this available to the campus!

Terry Meyer Wed, 04/17/2013 - 8:43am

I am also impressed by how the ASK coordinator uses the data to create training workshops.   I attended a one of the training  workshops this year and found it very helpful in improving my ASK sessions.