20 August 2021 Blogs, Academic, Librarian, Faculty, Student/Researcher

Managing, Accessing, and Using Course Materials

Survey reveals opportunities for libraries to collaborate with faculty, reduce cost of course materials and contribute to student retention

Selecting and managing course materials is a significant balancing act for faculty members. On one hand, faculty select materials that meet academic and diversity standards to ensure students receive the best learning experience. On the other hand, faculty try to align their selection of course resources with student preferences for easily accessible and interactive content that’s available at low or no cost.

To understand the practices, experiences, and challenges that faculty members and students face in managing, accessing and using course materials, Ex Libris commissioned Alterline, an independent research agency, to survey faculty and students in the United States.

Results revealed numerous opportunities for libraries to be a key partner for faculty in selecting course materials, supporting student access to low or no-cost resources, and bolstering student engagement more involved in supporting faculty and driving student retention and success. However, improvements to the way in which faculty and library staff work together are needed.

Here are the key takeaways from the survey report:

  • Faculty members are bearing the administrative burden of managing course resources. Only 15% of faculty members reported that they receive help from a teaching assistant, instructional designer, or someone else in managing tasks related to course materials.
  • Academic libraries are underused by the faculty in the search for new course materials. Faculty members use web-search results, recommendations from peers, and other sources more frequently than the library to find new course materials.
  • Faculty members are using a diverse range of resources, sometimes relying on print. Links to online resources and PDF files of books, book chapters, and articles are regularly used by faculty for their courses. However, resource lists still contain numerous references to physical books and textbooks, perhaps suggesting a lack of alternative online texts.
  • Measures of student engagement with course materials are lacking. Faculty members continue to use mostly traditional methods of monitoring student engagement, such as quizzes, tests, and the level of class participation, and tend to pay little attention to statistics on students’ use of course materials.
  • The move to online learning has created new pressure on the faculty to assist students in accessing course materials online. Key difficulties involve finding digital versions of physical resources, managing broken hyperlinks, and obtaining resources that are behind paywalls.
  • Faculty members are trying to reduce the cost of course materials. The report shows that 64% of faculty members have revised their choice of course resources because of cost. A substantial minority of faculty members (34%) went one step further, selecting only those course materials that are free for students.
  • Libraries can increase their involvement in teaching and learning by applying their expertise. Faculty members are primarily interested in obtaining the library’s support for the purchase, licensing, and digitization of course materials; the reduction of costs for students; and copyright clearance when necessary.

Learn more about this survey and how advances in technology, specifically designed for course material management can address these issues. Leganto can help improve student engagement and retention and facilitate better collaboration between libraries and faculty.