Library Student Workers and their Acacemic and Social Integration

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UNDERSTANDING THE INTEGRATIVE ROLE OF AN ACADEMIC LIBRARY FOR UNDERGRADUATE LIBRARY STUDENT WORKERS. This study explored how undergraduate library student workers at an urban, 4-year public institution perceived their work experiences in an academic library as contributing to their social and academic integration in college. Tinto’s (1993) model on student departure formed the basis for this study where academic and social integration work together to influence institutional commitments ultimately leading to the decision to remain or leave the college. Undergraduate library student workers from various library departments were interviewed and it is from these interviews that a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of an academic library’s effect on undergraduate library student workers was gained. The study revealed that the undergraduate library student workers perceived experiencing many socially integrative and academically integrative experiences which they would not have had were they not employed in an academic library. After the data are discussed, the theoretical implications, policy implications, and suggestions for further research are offered.

Transcript of Library Student Workers and their Acacemic and Social Integration

  • Definitions
    • Formal and Informal Social Integrative Experiences: Tinto (1993) defined formal social integrative experiences as those social experiences arising out of extracurricular activities within the college and the informal social experiences as those arising out of the day-to-day activities among differing members of the institution over matters not formally addressed by the colleges rules and regulations.
    • Formal and Informal Academic Integrative Experiences: Tinto (1993) defined formal academic integrative as those activities that occur in classrooms and laboratories and the informal as those faculty and staff interactions that take place outside the classroom or formal academic structure.
  • Background of the Study
    • Idea for the study.
    • Argument.
    • Literature.
    • Research Questions.
  • Idea for the study.
    • Persistence Studies (Abbott, 1996; Kramer & Kramer, 1968; Kuh & Gonyea, 2003; Smith, 1993 ) library use as part of the measurement of academic integrative in these studies. Library was a significant factor in the persistence of students (women/minorities Abbott, 1996). Why? What is the library doing that helps these students?
    • Literature about on campus jobs promoting persistence (Astin, 1998; Cermak & Filkins, 2004; Cuccaro-Alamin & Choy, 1998; Murdock, 1987; Terenzini, Yaeger, et al., 1996). That working on campus part time may facilitate social integration, as defined as community membership (Cuccaro-Alamin & Choy, 1998). Is working in the library particularly beneficial?
    • Personal experience as an undergraduate library student worker, experience as a library paraprofessional supervising students, and my observations as a professional librarian. Do these student workers recognize the benefits of working in a library in a socially or academically integrative context?
  • Argument for this Study.
    • The academic library has not been explored as a context for social and academic integration despite meeting all the criteria in Tintos (1993) persistence model. (Both the social and academic integrative can occur)
      • Academic libraries are often the largest employers of undergraduate student workers on university campuses. (Largest concentration)
      • In prior studies, the library has only been examined in an academic integrative context. (Only categorized as academic why?)
  • Literature
    • Models of Persistence. (Tinto)
    • Library Literature on Student Workers.
    • On-campus employment Literature.
    • Student Learning.
  • Models of Persistence.
    • Tintos (1993) model was used. Other models were examined and most included elements of Tinto (1993) or focused exclusively on one aspect, like financial reasons (Cabrera, Nora, and Castaneda,1993; St. John, 1990).
    • Tintos (1993) model was general and focused broadly on both the academic and social integrative aspects of student persistence. Academic library had not been explored & breadth of the model important. Other studies (Abbott, 1996; Kramer & Kramer, 1968; Kuh & Gonyea, 2003; Smith, 1993) that mentioned the academic library as being a significant academic integrative influence used Tinto model as framework for study.
    • Tintos (1993) model was used to explore the library as a context for both the socially integrative and the academically integrative experiences; it was not assumed to be either one or the other . Do academic and social integrative experiences occur and are these experiences perceived by the student workers?
  • Tintos Model
  • Library Literature
    • Student Workers Management and Training. Library literature concerned with the management and training of students, and the literature has only peripherally been interested in the persistence of student workers academically, mostly as it relates to not having to train new student workers (Kenny & Painter, 1995; Wilder, 1990). The literature does speak to the breadth of technical skills that these library student workers are having to be trained in now, unlike in the past. It is taking longer to train the students and departing student workers do place a strain on the academic librarys ability to function efficiently.
  • On Campus Employment Literature
    • There is a large body of work that exists to support the idea that campus jobs, generally, promote persistence (Astin, 1998; Cermak & Filkins, 2004; Cuccaro-Alamin & Choy, 1998; Murdock, 1987; Terenzini, Yaeger, et al., 1996).
    • There is a positive relationship between on-campus employment and persistence (Astin, 1975; Astin & Cross, 1979; Stampen & Cabrera, 1988). Socio-economic factors? Social and Academic Factors?
    • How this is related to Social Integration and Academic Integration? Well, both part of Tintos (1993) Persistence Model and a number of these studies suggest that working on campus promotes persistence by increasing opportunities for student involvement in campus life (Informal Social) and student interaction with faculty members and other professional staff (Informal Academic)( Astin, 1975; Ehrenberg & Sherman, 1987; Wenc, 1983).
  • Student Learning Literature
    • Is working in the library a valuable learning experience, whether or not it is socially or academically integrative? How is this experience perceived, social or academic, if at all? The student learning literature provides another lens with which to examine the data.
    • Integrating outside learning into the classroom can be an important tool with which to make student learning experiences more active and beneficial (Chickering, 1974, 1977).
    • Kuh (1993, 1996) suggested taking outside experiences and integrating them into the classroom in order to create seamless learning.
    • Nathan (2005), studying university life from the perspective of a student, found that 65% of undergraduate students surveyed expressed that they learned more outside the classroom than in the classroom.
    • Student learning literature is considered in possible future library policy; however, it allows us to speculate about the larger role of the academic library in its student workers education.
  • Research Questions
    • How do undergraduate library student workers at an urban, 4-year public institution perceive their work experiences in an academic library contributing to their social and academic integration in college?
        • How do undergraduate student workers think about the library?
        • How do library undergraduate student workers use the academic library?
        • What are undergraduate student workers work, academic, and social experiences in the academic library?
        • What do undergraduate student workers perceive as possible benefits of library employment?
  • Methodology
    • A phenomenological approach was used which is a qualitative research methodology. Explore a phenomena.
    • The primary rationale for using this approach was that the area of study to be explored has previously not been examined. The objective of qualitative research is to develop an understanding of the underlying reasons, motivators, and values for peoples attitudes, preferences, and behaviors (Lloyd-Jones, 2003). Additionally, McMillan and Wergin (2002) contended that qualitative methods are well suited for investigations such as adult education since the ultimate goal in this field is to improve practice. (Both in Education and Library Science we are in Applied Fields)
    • A semi-structured interview approach was used, which allowed the dialogue to be unrestrictive, conversational, and exploratory (Holstein & Gubrium, 1995).
    • The Interview was the method used to collect the data. Ultimately, the aim of the interview is to obtain descriptions of the life and world of the interviewee with respect to interpreting the meaning of the described phenomena (Kvale, 1996). More simply, an interview is a conversation that has a structure and a purpose going beyond a spontaneous exchange of ideas and involves careful questioning and listening. Allowed for greater control and flexibility on the part of the researcher.
  • Who was interviewed?
    • 17 interviews were conducted.
    • For a phenomenological study with a small population this is adequate to achieve information saturation.
    • Purposeful selection was initially used to identify the research participants. To increase the number of participants in the study, chain referral sampling was used to gain further access. (Access issues)