Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 290 2017
There are some limitations
to this study that are
noteworthy; for instance,
data utilized in this
study were drawn from
a large, public, research-
extensive university, a
factor that may limit
generalization to other
institutional types.36 Although we used propensity score matching
analyses to achieve a degree of balance in the covariates, it is indeed
possible that important unobserved covariates were not included
in analyses that may contribute to students’ use of academic
library resources, their completion of the SERU survey, or their
learning and development. Without inclusion of variables such
as academic motivation, estimated treatment effects of library
use may be biased and should be interpreted with caution.37
Additional limitations are related to the sample size: 472 students
reflects only 8.5% of the entire 2014 first-year class (n = 5,530). The
sample was also skewed significantly in terms of students’ sex—in 2014,
52.5% of the first-year class was female and 47.5% was male—a trend
that we have observed in our surveys on this campus. We were not
able to capture additional variables related to students’ use of libraries
that may be important markers of their libraries experiences such as
study rooms or other physical spaces in the library.38 These limitations
should be taken into consideration by readers and future researchers.
Recommendations for future research include studying a
different type of university population, using a larger sample
that is equally composed of females and males, and including
students’ self-ratings of their academic motivation and students’
use of specific types of library spaces as covariates.
The results of this study suggest that
first-year students who used a library
resource at least once were significantly
more likely than their peers who did not
use the library to report development
of critical thinking and analytical skills,
written communication skills, and
reading comprehension skills.
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