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Libraries exist to support the academic mission of the institution. So it was interesting, during our recent webinar series on information literacy, to hear a few of our presenters go outside the discussions about search strategies, interfaces and the mechanics of search, and cut right to the chase. What are the tangible results of implementing the Summon service? Could it even have a direct impact on student achievement?

Rosie Croft of Royal Roads University shared the results of research conducted shortly after the Summon service went live. As Rosie related, “We asked our students ‘Did using the Summon service improve your ability to research effectively?’ We found that 61.4 percent or 484 students said that Summon improved their ability to do their research. And that’s significant. We did our survey not that long after implementation. Only 10 percent said Summon did not improve their research, while almost 30 percent simply hadn’t used the service yet.”

What about the ultimate impact on academic achievement? Allison Sharman of University of Huddersfield  shared stories of students who had struggled with the former federated search system, while Summon made it much easier to find journal articles. They included this anecdote: “One student said that before Summon came on board, he had never really used journal articles at all. This student, I’m happy to report, got first. So obviously, his use of journal articles affected his final grade.”

Alison then went on to back up the stories with some hard data. “The research we’ve done at Huddersfield shows a strong correlation between resource use and final grade,” she revealed.  “We’ve been analyzing the grade the student ends up with, and looking at how much they use the library, how many times they visit, how many times they take books out, and the e-resources that they use. The students who get the higher grades are using e-resources the most, and books are secondary. For those who get the lower grades, it swaps around; they’re using books more, and using some e-resources but not very many.”

Alison indicated that the results of her research cuts across disciplines, and that it “shows a real need to show students how to use e-resources in an effective way. Before the Summon service, students were looking for things, just getting abstracts, and we had to show them how to acquire the full text. Summon did away with all that. Now there is just one place to search for journal articles, including getting full-text content.”

So far, the data tells us the Summon service can positively impact student achievement. Can we also use data to improve on the service it delivers? We’ll share the answer in our next post.

If you’re interested in hearing from the presenters themselves, all webinars in the series are available for on demand viewing.  Also, register now for our upcoming session with a librarian from Wake Forest University.  We’re sure you’ll want to hear the presenter’s unique perspectives on the topic of information literacy and the Summon service.

11 Mar 2013 | Posted by Eddie Neuwirth

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