Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 290 2017
propensity score matching techniques to estimate the effects of
first-year students’ use of academic libraries on their development
of three learning outcomes: critical thinking and analytical skills,
written communication skills, and reading comprehension skills.
We drew the sample used in this study from the 2014 entering class of
first-year undergraduates at the University of Minnesota (n = 5,368).
During spring 2015, all students at the university were invited to take
the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) survey,
a multi-institutional, comprehensive census in which students are
asked to report upon their experiences in higher education, including
their satisfaction, involvement, and development. Of the 472 first-
year students at the University of Minnesota who responded to the
SERU survey and were paired after matching techniques, there
were more females (n = 346, 73.3%) than males (n = 126, 26.7%).
Additionally, 1.9% were international students (n = 9), 4.7% Hispanic
(n = 22), 1.5% American Indian or Native American (n = 7), 13.1%
Asian (n = 63), 3.2% Black (n = 15), 0.4% Hawaiian (n = 2), 74.8%
White (n = 353), and 0.2% (n = 1) did not specify race/ethnicity.
Covariate measures. The independent variables utilized for
propensity score matching analyses were intentionally selected
because of their known relationships to students’ use of academic
library resources. The covariate measures included students’ race/
ethnicity,19 sex,20 on- or off-campus residency,21 first-generation
status,22 participation in an honors program,23 college of enrollment,24
socioeconomic status as measured by Pell Grant,25 and incoming ACT/
SAT scores.26 All indicators were derived from institutional records.
When ACT scores were missing, we converted SAT scores to ACT
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