McBryde-Wilding, H. and Rose, H. (2011) Scaffolding librarians: enhancing student success. Invited Presentation presented to: SOLSTICE Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) and Centre for Learning and Teaching Research (CLTR) Conference 2011: Effective Practices: Enhancing Learning, Teaching and Student Success, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, UK, 08-09 June 2011.
This presentation details a successful change in learning and teaching practice by the librarians at the University of Northampton, following the findings of an action research project involving the Early Childhood Studies undergraduate course. The Librarians and Course Leader were concerned about low Internal Student Survey (ISS) feedback from students and therefore sought ways to improve practice and enhance student learning. Findings of an initial student questionnaire in September 2009 revealed a mismatch between staff expectations and the reality of the students’ educational histories. For example, a much lower than expected use of libraries prior to starting university, limited previous guidance on how to search the Internet, continual formative support with assessments, model answers and revision guides. Subsequently, library support moved from a traditional model of a library induction followed by a one-hour practical information skills sessions in year one, to a scaffolding approach. This involved short drop-in sessions at key points in the course to introduce new concepts, or to refresh knowledge prior to assignment setting and to maintain the librarians’ profile with the students. Assignment specific support sheets were created, which used a tapered approach designed to scaffold the students’ developing information skills as they progressed through the year. A focus group was conducted at the end of the first term to track progress, as well as an end of year questionnaire. Transitional scaffolding was positively evaluated, students reported greater confidence levels in accessing appropriate resources, the course had a raised grade profile, and higher ISS scores compared to previous years, and higher levels of student retention. The practical outcomes are now being applied to other courses across the School of Education at the University, with plans to transfer to other subjects in 2011-12.