Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 290 — 2017
Student Focus Group Shows Issues with Scaﬀolding
Even though the hypothesis of “presence of research assignment
results in higher levels of satisfaction” might appear to have been
conﬁrmed by the results above, there still remained untested variables.
Does time influence the memory of library instruction negatively?
Does the presence of the instructor while the survey is administered
impact students’ perception of its helpfulness in a positive way?
In order to understand better what might be behind the contradictory
results, we decided to use a self-selected student group, the
standing Student Library Advisory Council (SLAC) and discuss
the results with them. The students on SLAC are representative of
the student population at Cornell in the sense that each college or
school dean nominates two representatives to serve on the council.
However, they are not a representative sample in that they have
been nominated precisely because they are invested in the library
and its engagement with the academic enterprise in one way or
another. Their investment in the success of the library, as well as
the fact that we already had experience working with the group
(the university librarian and the associate university librarian for
research and learning services meet with the group monthly) and
were familiar with how vocal and frank with their concerns they
could be, suggested to us that we would get useful feedback.
We presented the results of the faculty and student surveys and asked
the members of SLAC to brainstorm reasons why such considerable
diﬀerences in perceptions of helpfulness and value existed, as well
as suggest ideas of how library instruction might be improved.
The reasons proposed as an explanation of the low ratings
library instruction received on the COFHE survey, included:
• Library instruction is forced
• Many students have gone through library instruction in high school