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An Exploratory Study Librarians’ Understanding of First Generation Students’ Concerns and Needs: Karina Miki Douglas, MLIS 2007 The University of Western.

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Presentation on theme: "An Exploratory Study Librarians’ Understanding of First Generation Students’ Concerns and Needs: Karina Miki Douglas, MLIS 2007 The University of Western."— Presentation transcript:

1 An Exploratory Study Librarians’ Understanding of First Generation Students’ Concerns and Needs: Karina Miki Douglas, MLIS 2007 The University of Western Ontario

2 Acknowledgements I would also like to thank Dr. Anabel Quan-Haase, Faculty of Information and Medias Studies and Dr. Ron Hansen, Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario for co-supervising this research project.

3  What does “first generation student” imply to you? Question

4 ERIC Thesaurus Definition “Students who are the first in their families to attend an institution of higher education - more strictly refers to students whose parents have attained education at or below the high school level.” Note: The Controlled Vocabulary Term is First Generation College Students.

5 Some Characteristics… Around 1/3 rd of all students Lower income backgrounds Often older than 18-23

6 Some Characteristics… Part-time Enrolment Commute to School, rather than live in residence

7 Some Characteristics… More likely belong to a visible minority More likely to have experienced racial discrimination (Terenzini et al., 1996; Grayson, 1997; Tyckoson, 2000; Choy, 2001)

8 Not Just Undergraduates…  First generation status still poses challenges for students at the graduate-level  An even smaller minority carry on to graduate studies

9 Keep in Mind… These are just a few common tendencies, far from serving as a template applicable to all first generation students

10 Identity as a Group…  The defining characteristic of being first is intrinsic  First generation students are a hidden minority

11 Challenges… “Research shows that being the first member of a family to go to university is the hardest barrier to break.” The Times (UK): University Squeeze on Children of Graduates, March 16, 2007

12 Academic Challenges Did not prepare enough in high school Other commitments besides class Time management May feel intimidated Drop in grades; risk for academic probation Do not know where to get help

13 Assimilation Challenges Socio-economic differences Cannot fall back on familial experience Limited/Conflicted support from home Expectations and pre-conceived notion versus reality of higher education Age and experiential differences in the lifecourse

14 First generation students have a much higher risk for attrition than their continuing generation peers. Consequently…

15 Influences on Education  The strongest influences on a child’s educational aspirations include: Parents’ level of education attained Parents’ attitudes towards higher education  HRDC (2004), Aspirations of Canadian Youth for Higher Education

16 Hope for Success…

17 Making Gains…  Academic success relates to better assimilation

18 Making Gains…  Using the school library on a regular basis led to more academic gains (Eg: Terenzini et al, 1996; Grayson, 1997; Pike & Kuh, 2005)

19 “Library Experiences”  Most literature available comes from Educational Studies  Behaviours defining “library experiences” convey a document- based view of the academic library

20 “Library Experiences” A quiet place to read/study Browsing Asking for help Reading extra materials for class Using an index/database Developing a bibliography Reading a cited reference Pike & Kuh (2005)

21 Basis of the Present Study: “Library service for the first- generation college student.” David A. Tyckoson HEAD OF PUBLIC SERVICES, HENRY MADDEN LIBRARY AT CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, FRESNO.

22 Present Study: Perspective  This study explored the perspective of library staff, who work directly with all students

23 Participants… o Main criterion: working one-on- one with students o Four subject librarians and one library technician took part o 2 Males, 3 Females

24 Interview Questions 16 questions on three themes: Librarianship Educational Background First Generation Familiarity

25 Objectives  Determine participants’ understanding of first generation students’ as a unique user group  Learn what the library has/offers to help these students in their work

26 Professional Experience  All participants had worked in other library settings  Experience in the academic library ranged from 7 months to 24.5 years.

27 Participants’ Education o Education ranged from a 3- year Bachelor’s Degree with a postgraduate diploma to a Doctorate

28 Familial Education  The 4 librarians had at least one parent with a university education  1 librarian's mother had been an off-campus student  The library technician was a first generation student

29 First-Generation Familiarity  The actual term “first generation students” could imply more than one meaning

30 Estimated Demographics  Estimates reflected geographic locations of schools and knowledge of current social trends in higher education pursuits

31 Estimated Demographics  Geography was also implied in Familial social-economic status and occupational background: local industry base rural versus urban settings inner city versus suburban accessibility and resources

32 Perceived Challenges o Lack of familial support (i.e. experience) o Separation by distance o Uncertainty about academic expectations

33 Perceived Challenges o Anxiety, “fear of the unknown” o Seek guidance outside the family o Financing the education

34 In the Library...  Technology played a major role in library services and instruction: o Access to equipment for students without their own o Using materials from online sources creates a greater need for instruction

35 Bridging a gap?  Technology may actually place first generation students on similar footing: o High schools have similar equipment o Older students may have used same technology at work

36 Recollections of the Library  The library technician recalled the academic library seemed alien, compared to the public library: o Size of library o Did not know where to go for help

37 Recollections of the Library  The librarian whose mother was educated off-campus found the adjustment a little easier o Had worked in a public library o Experience as a staff member may have helped

38 Services and Outreach Today  Two of the librarians work with students in their study environment o Sessions held in first-year residences o Working with recent medical graduates on-site

39 Services and Outreach Today  Remote access, and availability during “off peak” times: o Phone or reference desk o Instant messaging (popular, but limited subject speciality)

40 Getting Noticed...  All 5 participants admitted they had been “self-reliant” in the library as undergraduates o One had even skipped the “instruction session” days in class

41 Getting Noticed...  Participation in creative ways to let the university community know what they have to offer  The fall orientation period is a major time to be involved

42 Other Suggestions to Help...  Ideally, the library would be involved with other campus services, and collaborate with departments...  Targeting initiatives for specific groups is useful

43 Discussion  Location was another underlying theme in the interviews  The 4 subject librarians represented the 2 largest libraries (out of 6)

44 Discussion  The Library Technician worked in a subject library, but actually apart from the main system  Communications on services between the main system and outlying libraries is limited

45 Discussion  Service availability also varied by library o E.g. Instant messaging only for science/medicine o The subject-specific library was on a separate LAN, which required students to be on-site

46 Conclusion  The participants interviewed recognise challenges facing first generation students  Many services and outreach (especially in the first year) can help these students adjust

47 And Finally...  Whatever the means to improve chances of a first generation student succeeding, the experiential benefits go beyond the time spent in school

48 And Finally...  As one participant noted, her experience as a student has been passed along to her children, such that they now have an idea of what to expect in their higher education endeavours


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